European Affairs

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 5:28 pm on 3rd June 2010.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Shadow Minister (Europe) 5:28 pm, 3rd June 2010

No, of course my hon. Friend cannot! He knows perfectly well he cannot--he is a mischievous lad. The point I am trying to make is that there is an illogicality about the Government's position. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman--sorry, I mean my hon. Friend, I sometimes forget--will at some point want to make that point to the Government, rather than always doing so to us.

May I just ask the Minister some very quick questions? First, I urge him to be extremely careful about trying to reset the relationship with Russia. There are very big problems in relation to Russia, not only in its attitude towards Ukraine and Georgia, but with internal democracy and human rights--those who seek the bear's embrace all too often get hugged to death. On Cyprus, I hope that he will push forward as much as he possibly can. We can stand ready to help if there is anything that we can do. Britain obviously plays a key role in trying to develop a peace in Cyprus.

Likewise, Britain has over the past couple of years played a strong role in relation to Greece and Macedonia, trying to resolve something that to many people outside those countries seems completely illogical.

The European Union has got close to signing up to a free trade agreement with Peru and Colombia. When I was in post, I was keen to try to ensure that that would have to be ratified in the Parliaments of every member state. I hope that the Minister for Europe will ensure that it must be ratified in this Parliament.

The hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark said that the Liberal Democrats had never argued for the euro. Perhaps the party did not all the time, but the new Chief Secretary, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change did. It is good to see them on the road to Damascus, but it would sometimes be nice to hear a little less sanctimony from them.

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