The Prime Minister is off to Brussels today in an attempt to secure a juicy job for his new man in Europe, Jonathan Hill, who was appointed European Commissioner yesterday during a big government reshuffle.
Apparently the best roles for Britain’s European Commissioner would be trade, competition, or internal market – as our brand new Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told the Today programme this morning, “it would certainly help us” if Hill were to be handed one of these three briefs. “These are portfolios of interest to us, but not just for the UK… we want to see the EU get back on the right track,” Fallon continued.
There’s just one problem for Cameron. It’s the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker who is the person who gives roles to European Commissioners, and it was Juncker about whom the PM kicked up such a fuss before he was about to take the presidency.
To add to the PM’s popularity problem in the EU, there is also the fact that Hill – the ex-leader of the House of Lords widely described as a “backroom” operator – is not a high-profile figure, particularly not in Europe. This and the fact that he is an unelected figure has caused rumblings in Brussels corridors (as reported by the Today programme) that the UK just doesn’t take its European Commission place seriously.
As the BBC’s James Landale writes:
The big question now is whether the new Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will consider him [Hill] senior and experienced enough to win one of the big economic portfolios that Britain wants.