Future Relationship Between the UK and the EU

Part of Domestic Gas and Electricity (Tariff Cap) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:06 pm on 18th July 2018.

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Photo of Steven Baker Steven Baker Conservative, Wycombe 5:06 pm, 18th July 2018

I agree with my hon. Friend, but I would extend his remarks by saying that it is clear, across the European Union, that the project is running into the problem, as its proponents have said, that it lacks democratic consent for what is being done. This is a profound problem that should alarm all of us.

If we look at Hungary, we see that almost 70% of the vote share is for parties that could be considered populist. In Germany, Alternative für Deutschland has risen from obscurity to be the third largest party, forcing Frau Merkel into a coalition—an unwanted coalition—to keep it out. In the Netherlands, the major parties have announced that they would do everything they could to keep the so-called Freedom party out of power, refusing to form coalitions with it despite the Freedom party getting the second largest share of the vote. I am very grateful to those in the Italian Parliament for passing a helpful motion, but I hope they will not be offended if I say that their parties are not necessarily considered mainstream. The rejection of the status quo in Italy is indicative of a trend right across Europe where, politically, the project is being rejected.

On the economy, I would just say that, according to the House of Commons Library, the European Central Bank has, in total to date, purchased €2.5 trillion of assets, which includes €2 trillion of Government debt. By the end of 2018, the figure is scheduled to be €2.6 trillion. That is equivalent to about 23% of annual eurozone GDP. This is the most extraordinary economic and monetary period in history. I personally believe that the distortions sown by quantitative easing on such a scale will unwind, and will do so in a very harmful way. That is the first problem faced by those who propose a high-alignment scenario such as this one. It seeks to cling on to institutions and a kind of political economy that are running out of public consent and have economic difficulties.