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UK’s Relationship with the EU

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:36 pm on 2nd February 2016.

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Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe 12:36 pm, 2nd February 2016

What my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is seeking through these negotiations is to secure a better deal for the United Kingdom in Europe and to secure agreement to measures that will make the whole of Europe better at creating jobs, growth and prosperity than it has been in recent years. The British people will then be given their say over our future in Europe, which they were denied for 13 years while the right hon. Gentleman’s party was in government, despite three different treaties being enacted in those years which transferred further powers from this House to the institutions of the European Union.

It has always been my right hon. Friend’s intention to make a statement, subject to permission, after Prime Minister’s questions tomorrow. The timing of the release of the documents was in the hands of the President of the European Council. The draft text of those documents has been changing over the weekend, and as recently as yesterday. Clearly, until President Tusk published, we could not come to the House to answer questions on them.

I have been at debates and in evidence sessions before Select Committees when I have listened to complaints from Members from all parts the House that they were being given insufficient time to look at the detail before they had the opportunity to question Ministers about it, so the Prime Minister’s approach has been deliberately to give that opportunity to right hon. and hon. Members and then make himself available to answer questions. The fact that the right hon. Gentleman focused entirely on the choreography of this morning and asked not one question on the substance makes that point for me.