Future Relationship Between the UK and the EU

Part of Domestic Gas and Electricity (Tariff Cap) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:59 pm on 18th July 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 5:59 pm, 18th July 2018

My hon. Friend is slightly missing the point. I am talking about the legal framework of the EU itself, which imposes on us a requirement, through the 1972 Act, to accept the rules. I will come on to that in a moment, because I believe that what is happening under the Chequers proposal and under the White Paper will, in many respects, make it worse than it is already.

The big picture is about why we had to leave the EU to regain our democracy. The decisions imposed on us through the 1972 Act—those decisions are imposed through the Council of Ministers—as my Committee exposed a few years ago, will in practice be continued under the common rulebook and will continue to be taken by a majority vote of the 27 without our being there. The Prime Minister even wrote a pamphlet about that in 2007 in which she said

“Parliament is supposed to be Sovereign but in practice it is not.”

That will be made even worse under the White Paper. We will have no voting rights, no blocking minority and a mere useless consultation.

The White Paper mirrors the EEA arrangements, which slavishly follow the decisions of the EU Council of Ministers. Furthermore, given that the Government will already have agreed to the international obligations it will have entered into, it is absurd to suggest that under the “threat of consequences” during the scrutiny process, the MPs appointed to a Committee run by the Whips would ever overturn the Government’s agreed rules. The manner in which the common rulebook will absorb European rules and European jurisdiction through the creation by the UK Government of international obligations binding of itself, with the deliberate connivance of the Government and the Whips, will predetermine the outcome of the parliamentary scrutiny when it reaches the Committee. In other words, it will fictionalise real sovereignty. This White Paper is a sovereignty car crash.

As for the European Court of Justice, the former president of the EFTA court—I have just put this to the Prime Minister in the Liaison Committee—clearly stated only a few days ago:

“the UK would recognise that the European Court of Justice is supreme on the interpretation of EU law.”

He went on to say that under the independent arbitration we would agree

“to refer questions to the ECJ”.

The White Paper itself concedes that the UK makes an

“upfront choice to commit to ongoing harmonisation with the relevant EU rules and requirements”.

Thus, the ECJ will determine not only the interpretation, but the outcome of any disputes, so it will be calling the shots.

I wish briefly to turn to the issues of foreign policy and of Germany, which has been very much underplayed for many, many years in this context. Of course we want to work with other neighbours in Europe—I have no problem with that. However, this problem, which has been with us for so many generations—over the past 20 or 30 years—has simply been ignored to far too great an extent. It is clear that Germany calls the shots, and everybody knows it. To see that we have only to look at what has been going on in Greece; what went on in Ireland when it had the crash; and what happened to Italy, whose EU Affairs Minister recently described the euro as “a German prison”.

The reality is that Germany tore up the Dublin regulation, which led to this incredible surge or refugees, some of which were justified and some of which certainly were not. We have seen how Germany broke the stability and growth pact with impunity, but ensured the manner in which it is applied to other European member states. The result has been that the people of Europe are voting with their feet, and it has also led to the rise of the far right, not only in Germany, but elsewhere. That is one of the things I have argued against ever since I first wrote about this in early 1990. Anyone who believes we could remain in the present EU, from which we have escaped in the nick of time, is simply living in cloud cuckoo land.

I wish to add something about those who would want to reverse this process, although I am not pointing the finger at anybody or any group of people in particular. I have heard of rats leaving a sinking ship but never of rats trying to sink a leaving ship. We really must leave this EU, above all else. We need to regain our democracy and our self-government, and not be dictated to by qualified majority vote, which we have mistakenly accepted for 40-odd years. We live in a world of massive change. We now have the opportunity to decide our own history, our own future, our own economy and our own destiny. People have fought and died for this over generations. We wish to co-operate, but not to be subservient.