It is always difficult to follow someone whose oratory is so difficult to follow, especially as someone who was educated in Tottenham and Essex. Most of my friends probably would not have understood a single word Stephen Pound said. He is a good friend, however, and I take in good faith his feeling that we should continue to be friends with Europe. Actually, I think that they have learned an awful lot from us, especially about universal suffrage, which we were doing long before we joined the European Union.
You might hear me refer to you, Mr Speaker, as I tell the history of my involvement in this particular subject. I started Conservatives Against a Federal Europe, which damaged my career enormously—it prevented me from coming into this House for many years—because my party was not hugely supportive of people like Sir Teddy Taylor, whom my hon. Friend James Duddridge referred to. I vividly remember having to hold a fringe meeting about Europe at the Odeon cinema in Blackpool because we were prevented, profoundly, from holding it in the conference area. I asked Michael Prescott, the then political editor of The Sunday Times, to chair the meeting, and you might remember, Mr Speaker, that some chap called Norman Tebbit appeared on that platform alongside a young upstart called John Bercow. Talking about oratory, John Bercow made Mr Tebbit look a bit left wing—I think I am absolutely right about that. Following that excellent fringe meeting, which was packed to the gunnels—mostly by Government Whips trying to find out what we were up to—I got a phone call from the then said John Bercow, saying, “Could you make sure that I am on your fringe next year?” I remember that very vividly. It is in my diaries—for future publication.
Mr Speaker, I know that you will not take it the wrong way when I say that I have not been on a journey since then and I am still as Eurosceptic. That is because of my mentor and my beliefs—my mentor was Sir Teddy Taylor and he is the reason why I am in this House today. I did get blocked at parliamentary boards, as Mr Speaker knows, because he was actually at a certain weekend parliamentary board—