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Banking Union and Economic and Monetary Union

Part of Free School Meals (Children Over the Age of 16) – in the House of Commons at 5:41 pm on 6th November 2012.

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Photo of Kelvin Hopkins Kelvin Hopkins Labour, Luton North 5:41 pm, 6th November 2012

I wish to speak briefly in support of the amendment, which I have signed, and to applaud everything Mr Cash said, apart from his comments about the Labour party. I believe strongly that banking regulation should be determined by national Governments and Parliaments and that, if there are to be international agreements, they should be bilateral or multilateral agreements between Governments and not determined by the European Union.

I am certain that my views on banking regulation are very different from those of Government Members, but I agree that we should determine what it is, not the European Union. The most damaging change for Britain was when Mrs Thatcher abandoned exchange controls in 1979, which was the most serious act taken by the Conservative Government in those years. Since then, we have seen all the crises arising from globalisation. We cannot put the genie back in the bottle, although I think that in time we might have to try, but it would take another massive crisis before that happens.

With regard to the euro, I have always been wholly opposed to economic and monetary union and wrote my first paper about it in 1979, when I opposed the European monetary system. I wrote another paper about the exchange rate mechanism and predicted its crash, and I opposed Maastricht. I have written and spoken thousands of words on these matters over many years, and I am afraid that I have been proved right. The crisis now affecting us is quite appalling. In Greece there is now a fascist party infiltrating the police and threatening to undermine democracy while the Greek economy disappears into a black hole, and that is the result of a mad economic policy and strategy. Countries should have their own currencies and should be able to determine their own parities relative to other countries.

The Government ought to go into the negotiating room at any time feeling strong, because the European Union needs Britain much more than we need it. We buy vastly more from the EU than it buys from us. With Germany and France now predicted to be going into recession, they will need our trade even more. Our exports, compared with our imports, are tiny. The German economy is heavily dependent on massive exports to Britain, so we can negotiate from a position of strength and say, “If you make life very difficult for Britain, we could make life very difficult for you as well.” We do not want to do that; we want to be comradely and internationalist. But let us not think of ourselves as a weak country, because we are very strong.