George Parker wrote an insightful article a few weeks ago about splits at the top of government over the coalition’s plans for a cap on immigration. The reason the story was revelatory was that it was Tory ministers such as David Willetts and Michael Gove who were expressing concerns about the policy – not the Lib Dems.
Ed Davey, Lib Dem business minister, told me over a fish lunch last week that he was pressing hard to fight a new Brussels directive which could impose – in his view – £2.4bn of costs on business. A vote on this “pregnant workers directive” has just been deferred until the autumn, partly (I’m told by one EU contact) because of this British lobbying.
This is not to say that Davey is right or wrong; personally I like the idea of higher maternity pay. The point is that Lib Dems are proving themselves capable of hawkish behaviour in government, in contrast to their wishy-washy image.