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 Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Conservative, Rushcliffe 12:48 pm, 3rd February 2016

Feelings are obviously getting roused on this subject.

The Prime Minister has achieved more on the big issues in this negotiation than I ever expected—and, I suspect, more than the hard-line Eurosceptics ever expected, which is why they are denouncing it so fiercely—but, as he says, he still has to deliver it. Does he accept that he will have great difficulty in persuading Governments in central and eastern Europe, in particular, to accept that their citizens lawfully working here alongside English people in key sectors such as the health service and the construction industry should have lower take-home pay in the first few years than their English workmates?

If the Prime Minister has to offer something in exchange for that, could he perhaps consider underlining our NATO commitment to those countries, as their biggest concern is future military adventures by Putin’s Russia? To underline our role as one of the leading military contributors, if not the leading military contributor, through NATO to the European alliance would be a very good offer to make—by deploying more troops, perhaps—in order to get what is a difficult concession for our partners in those countries to make.