UK-EU Renegotiation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:48 pm on 3rd February 2016.

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Photo of David Cameron David Cameron The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 12:48 pm, 3rd February 2016

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his questions. First of all, on the issue of making a statement today rather than yesterday, I felt that yesterday I was in possession of all the documents, but I did not think that every Member of the House would be, so I thought it better to give hon. Members a day to read the documents and have the debate today. It gave me the added advantage of being able to visit Chippenham, which, of course, is the town of the right hon. Gentleman’s birth. I was able to thank the people of Chippenham for putting him on earth and delivering him safely to this place.

The right hon. Gentleman criticises the issues that we put on the table: getting out of ever closer union, waiting times for welfare and guarantees for fairness between ins and outs. I know that he did not read the Labour manifesto, but I did, and actually all those things were in the Labour manifesto. Labour wanted a two-year welfare wait rather than a four-year welfare wait, but many of the other elements of our negotiation were supported by Labour, so Labour Members can feel they have a mandate for backing these measures.

The right hon. Gentleman asked about the detail on the emergency migration brake, because there are gaps in the text. He is absolutely right about that; we need to secure the best possible outcome at the February Council. He asked about the danger of the exploitation of migrant workers, and that is an area where I think he and I agree. That is why we have boosted the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, and we have put in place better co-ordination between it and the National Crime Agency. We are making sure that there are more investigations and more prosecutions.

TTIP is an area where we profoundly disagree. Other socialist Governments in Europe take my view, which is that TTIP will be good for jobs, good for growth and good for businesses. I am not sure that I ought to advise the right hon. Gentleman to spend more time with trade unions, but if he spends time with trade unions in Sweden and some other countries in northern Europe, he may find that they, too, support TTIP, because they want jobs for their members.

In the end, I would say to the right hon. Gentleman and to all Members across the House that this is an important moment for our country. Yes, there will be areas of disagreement between the Conservatives and Labour, but we are involved in trying to get the very best negotiation for Britain. The European Parliament plays a part in that, and the Party of European Socialists plays a part in that. I urge all hon. Members, if you want to have no more something for nothing, if you want to get Britain out of ever closer union, if you want fairness between those in the euro and those out of the euro, and if you want a more competitive and successful Europe, let us fight this together. [Interruption.]