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 have great respect for my hon. Friend, but I have to say that, on the issue of whether it is legally binding, I really do believe he is wrong. If this document is agreed, it would be an international law decision and, as an international law decision, the European Court of Justice has to take it into account. I would make the point to him, because he follows these things very closely, that Denmark negotiated the same sort of legal opt-outs and, 23 years on, they clearly stand and are legally binding. Those are the facts.

My hon. Friend asks whether we are meeting what we set out in the promises we made. We made very clear promises in our manifesto: get Britain out of ever closer union—that is a promise that we kept; make sure we restrict immigrants’ welfare benefits—that is a promise that we are keeping; real fairness between euro-ins and euro-outs—that is a promise that we are keeping. In every area—more competitiveness, making sure subsidiarity means something—we have met the promises that we have set out.

I understand that there will be those who say, “We didn’t ask for enough”, or, “We need more reform.” I believe these are the reforms that go to the heart of the concerns of the British people. People feel that this organisation is too much of a political union; it is too bureaucratic; it is not fair for non-euro countries; and we want more control of immigration. Those four things are largely delivered through this negotiation.

I would just say this to colleagues from all parts of the House. I have sat on the Benches on this side and that side and I have heard about the Maastricht treaty, about the Lisbon treaty, about the Nice treaty and about the Amsterdam treaty, but I have never seen a Prime Minister standing at this Dispatch Box with a unilaterally achieved declaration of bringing powers back to our country. That is what we have got. That is what is within our grasp.