Deal over Trade Union Bill

Philip Davies has demanded answers from government over claims it backed down on parts of proposed legislation to secure money for the campaign to stay in the EU. The Shipley MP called for a yes or no answer to an allegation made by fellow Eurosceptic MP Bernard Jenkin that the Government “watered down” the Trade Union Bill in return for a “considerable donation” from unions to the Remain campaign. Shipley MP Philip Davies said to the Minister: “This is a very simple issue, on which the Minister could give a very straightforward answer. The allegation is that the Trade Union Bill was watered down for the benefit of the trade unions on the understanding that they would then make a considerable donation to the campaign to stay in the European Union.” Speaking in the Commons during an urgent question on the allegations, he added: “Will the Minister give us a clear denial, with the authority of the Dispatch Box, that any such discussions took place with Ministers or officials, and that in no way whatever was the watering down of the Bill done with any mention of funding from trade unions for the EU remain campaign? It is very simple for him to deny it if it is not true.” The allegations were made in the Commons today (THUR) after a letter jointly written by Prime Minister David Cameron and the former TUC general secretary Sir Brendan Barberwas published in a national newspaper. They claimed they had set aside political differences to ensure Britain remained part of Europe. Cabinet Minister Nick Boles refused Mr Davies' invitation to the deny the allegation, instead pointing to comments made by a Labour MP that trade unions would have supported the campaign “wholeheartedly and full-throatedly anyway, because they believe that it is in their interests and the interests of their members to do so.” Mr Boles added: “We went through a process of negotiation, not just with shadow Ministers but with members of other parties.”