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BSE

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 9:11 pm on 25th June 1996.

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Photo of Mr Tony Marlow Mr Tony Marlow , Northampton North 9:11 pm, 25th June 1996

My hon. Friend will make me forget my next point.

I have friends in the Labour party, and I have respect for it. Or rather, I had respect for the Labour party when it stood for something. There are still some people in the Labour party who stand for something. I have no respect for new Labour, which stands for nothing. Even worse than new Labour are the old Liberals or new Liberals, or whatever the mish-mash on the Opposition Bench call themselves. They criticise the Government and say that they could have done a better deal. How on earth could they have done that? All the power resides over there and yet the Liberals want to give Europe more power, so that we end up with no power over our country, our farmers and our future. How dare they put their argument in that way? How dare they try to deceive the British people?

We all know that it is an absurd deal, and that our beef is the best in Europe and in the world. We all know that it is wrong to kill perfectly healthy cows and take them out of the food chain when people around the world are starving. Why can we not use that meat in food aid? If someone has a one in three chance of dying from starvation, why can they not have that beef? We all know that the cull of cows is absurd and that it has gone too far, but there is nothing that we can do about it. The Government have been confronted with limits by our European partners and friends—or are they the people in Europe who are trying to steal a commercial advantage over us? That includes people such as Chancellor Kohl, who is in a flat panic about German consumers. Given the limits with which they were confronted—although it is an absurd deal—the Government have wrought a miracle, and have done far better than anybody else could have.

I have one final point—whither Europe? Europe will be with us, and we will be with it, only if we are at ease with it. Europe is changing; the country is changing. The Conservative party has changed and the understanding of the realities of Europe has changed. Europe may go for a single currency; there will be people in the single currency and people outside it. That means that there will be greater divisions in Europe than there are at the moment.

Britain has an opt-out from the social chapter and the single currency. Britain is going to have changes in the fisheries policy. Britain is going to become more different. Other countries are going to join Europe and they are going to be more different. We are going to have a Europe of variable geometry. That is the way of our salvation in Europe; that is the way that the Government are going. Going that way will set the British people free within Europe and give us more power and control over our affairs and more of the self-government that has been taken from us over the past few years. We shall get that only with a Conservative Government. The trash opposite would be on their knees; they would lie on their backs, kicking their feet in the air and asking for more.