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European Union Bill

Part of Safe Standing (Football Stadia) – in the House of Commons at 5:36 pm on 7th December 2010.

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Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Shadow Foreign Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities 5:36 pm, 7th December 2010

I beg to move an amendment, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question and add:

"this House declines to give a second reading to the European Union Bill on the grounds that, while the principle of referendums on significant constitutional and monetary changes is appropriate, the Bill is a flawed measure which would confuse the important issues at stake and make vital constitutional issues justiciable by the courts rather than resolved under the sovereignty of Parliament."

The Foreign Secretary has been on a long and tortuous journey to get here today. The man who voted for the Maastricht treaty without a referendum and the former party leader who put Euroscepticism at the heart of his unsuccessful election campaign now finds himself in government with what he has described as

"the most fanatically federalist party in Britain."

The Foreign Secretary's diary engagement from last night rather sums things up for him, and I am sorry that he chose not to share it with the House. Last night, he went back to Smith square, to the old Conservative central office. From the windows where once Margaret Thatcher waved on election night now waves a blue flag with yellow stars. Where once sat Tory party researchers working on the Bruges speech, there are now French, German and Italian officials. He was invited for the opening and renaming of central office as Europe House. It cannot be easy for him. He is caught between the realities and the responsibilities of government and the rhetoric of Eurosceptic opposition. He is caught, as they say, between a rock and Mr Cash.