UK-EU Renegotiation

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

Alert me about debates like this

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

My hon. Friend is extremely articulate and always speaks very powerfully, but let me take two of the points that he has made and explain why I think that, actually, he has got this wrong.

First, the principles that will be legally binding in terms of how currencies other than the euro are treated constitute a real advance. They mean, for instance, that never again can the European Union suggest that the clearance of euros is possible only in eurozone countries, which would have been disastrous for our financial services industry. I have secured that. The European Union cannot even promote that again, which is extremely important, because if we were not in the European Union, we would not have that protection at all. The EU could change the rule just like that. I do not think my hon. Friend understands the power of the principles of no discrimination, no disadvantage, and no cost, which mean that we cannot be forced to bail out eurozone countries as we nearly were last summer. Those are powerful principles.

On ever closer union, I encourage my hon. Friend to look at page 9 of section C of one of the documents, which states that

“the references to an ever closer union…do not offer a basis for extending the scope of any provision of the Treaties”.

As I have said, as far as I can remember—I was advising a Minister at the time of the Maastricht debates, and I sat through Lisbon and Nice and Amsterdam and the rest—the principle has never been set out in that way. This means that ever closer union cannot be used to drive a process of integration. If we in the House have the protection that we must have a referendum if any Minister ever suggests that we sign up to another treaty that passes power—protection one—and we have this too, we are well on our way to saying that our different sort of membership of the EU is not only safeguarded but is being extended, because not only are we out of the euro and out of Schengen, but we are out of ever closer union too.