By Ray Fleming

5 03 for, 89 against, 4 abstentions. That was the support which the German Chancellor Angela Merkel got from her parliament yesterday morning for her plans to strengthen still further the eurozone bail-out stability fund.

Although the cases are not the same, the backing which Merkel commands from her own party and allies on Europe contrasts noticeably with the revolt that David Cameron had to face from his own backbenchers in the debate on a referendum on membership of Europe. He must be given credit for rallying the rest of his party, just as Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband are entitled to do so for backing Mr Cameron, but the fact remains that Britain will never be able to speak confidently and effectively on Europe while the influential eurosceptic hard core rules the Conservative backbenches.

Angela Merkel's address to her parliamentarians was impressive: “The world is watching Europe and Germany; it is watching whether we are ready and able in the hour of Europe's most serious crisis since the Second World War to take responsibility.” Last week she said, more concisely: “If the euro goes, Europe goes. We cannot let that happen.” Germany's reliability on the bail-out stability fund has not wavered since the issue was first mooted about a year ago. It is not the only problem in the eurozone's recovery but it is a key factor.

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