Neither Parliament nor people will decide the EU Treaty: the government offers a done deal.

The government has failed to give us the promised referendum on the EU Treaty.
Now it is failing to give us the promised full Parliamentary scrutiny.

Yesterday we had a bad tempered debate on how much time would be made available to go through all the powers transferred and the complexities of the EU proposals.

The 20 days floated in the newspapers has come down to 14 days including 2nd Reading and the debate on the timetable. The ability to probe and examine amendments on every part of the Treaty and Bill, has transposed into just one and half hours tacked on to the end of themed debates to consider amendments. Today that is just one and half hours for any amendment covering cross-border crime, justice, policing, human trafficking and asylum and migration policy.

This is not Parliamentary scrutiny, this is a government riding roughshod over Parliamentary accountability. Normally MPs can table and debate a wide range of amendments on each Bill, with time in committee to consider each amendment and each clause on a line by line basis. That will be quite impossible on this most complex of documents, with so little time for proper committee discussion.

Why can’t the government cancel one of the weeks of holiday pencilled into the Parliamentary diary? Why can’t it remove some of the Topical debates on Thursdays, which are always on subjects the government wishes to highlight, and give the time to this issue? Why do we have to pack up at 7pm on a Wednesday, when we go on to 10 pm as on Mondays and Tuesdays?

The truth is there are plenty of ways of finding the time, if they wanted to. There are plenty of us wishing to debate a wide range of amendments and new clauses.

Yesterday the government showed they do not want Parliament to do a proper job on this Bill, any more than they want the people to have a vote on it. Clearly the government is worried about this Treaty, and knows it is unpopular. That may be why Mr Brown did not wish to be in family photo at the signing ceremony, why he did not have the 2 nd Reading on a day he could be represent and voting, and why now his business managers are artificially restricting the time for amendments.

In one sense the government is right. Because Parliament is debating it after the government has signed it, it is take it or leave it. The Opposition has voted against the whole thing, but lost thanks to the support of both Lib Dem and Labour MPs. The battle now over the substance of the Bill is to expose just how much power the government is giving away, in the knowledge that from here the Lib Dems are going to support the government when it matters, making the government casual about needing to explain itself to Parliament and people.

I do hope all those who voted UKIP in the General Election, helping federalist candidates to become MPs, now wish they had not. We need votes now in the House of Commons. Splitting the anti Constitution vote in 2005 has damaged our cause.

PS: Today. Tuesday the government made a small concession – we now have two and half hours for an amendment and three and a half hours for the general motion each day.

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20 Comments

  1. Posted January 29, 2008 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    “I do hope all those who voted UKIP in the General Election, helping federalist candidates to become MPs, now wish they had not. We need votes now in the House of Commons. Splitting the anti Constitution vote in 2005 has damaged our cause.”

    The number of marginal seats lost by votes for UKIP (i.e. those in which the number of UKIP votes was greater than the difference between the Tory candidate and the winner) was in single figures.

    Apart from the lack of any decent reason to vote Tory at the last election, it was not solely UKIP that denied you your seats, but the rise of small parties in general: support, in some polls, has been as high as 16%. It is a percentage that has been growing more and more rapidly over the last couple of decades: it is the reason why the Tories still have a derisory lead even after ten years of the most corrupt government in at least a century.

    And what is “our cause”, precisely?

    Whilst I have the greatest respect for your personal views (I supported your leadership bid, many years ago), the vast majority of your Tory colleagues are not people who I — as a economic and social libertarian — support.

    Further, they are pro-EU. Your Chairman wants to remain in the EU. Your leader wants to remain in the EU. Your head of policy groups wants to remain in the EU. I remember the Maastricht betrayal (an event that ZanuLabour are using against you to great effect).

    Here is an idea: the Tories should offer something radically different. It is time to accept that the Lisbon Treaty battle is lost (unless some miracle happens in the Lords). All of us know that any referendum after we have ratified the Treaty — and certainly after the other 26 have ratified — will be meaningless. If the Conservative Party really is against the Treaty and wants it repealed, ultimately we are going to have to consider our position in the EU (something that the treacherous LibDems have realised).

    Perhaps now is the time for the Tory Party to start articulating what a Britain outwith the EU might look like. A Britain that is a free trading hub of the world; a Britain that can not only survive but be considerably more prosperous when freed from the yolk of EU regulation. A more liberal Britain, in which the government does not seek to regulate the day-to-day life of the people; or, rather, is not forced by EU directives to regulate the daily lives of its citizens.

    In short, a Britain that trades with the world, a proud and independent nation in its own right, and in which the mother of all Parliaments is more than just a regional administrative unit of the federal EU government.

    DK

  2. mikestallard
    Posted January 29, 2008 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Hands up! Yup, I voted UKIP in the European election, but Conservative in the General election. We have a super MP – Malcolm Moss who is about to be replaced (I hope) with another excellent one.
    Fair dos too, to the Lib Dems, ever since I can remember, they have been in favour of full involvement in the EU. They are simply saying what they have always said.

    I myself do not understand why Brown is allowing this to go on – do you? He obviously isn’t happy with the EU – hence the signing fiasco. On the other hand, he is ramming it through as an unpopular bill and forbidding a referendum.
    Is it that, as on so much else, he wants to have his cake and eat it? (Treatment of Frank Field/Charles Clarke).
    Is it that he made (another) secret pact with Blair?
    Why doesn’t he just come out and say what he thinks?
    I would love to hear your views on this.

    (para left out -ed)

    It does look as if Eurosceptic Brown changed his tune at the time he became PM – maybe there was a secret deal with Blair to honour the Treaty. There was certainly no oppositon to this outrageous loss of soevreignty, which just happened to go through on the eve of Brown taking over.

  3. Posted January 29, 2008 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    If the Conservative party had a realistic policy regarding Europe ie get out now while we can, it would romp home at the next election. It would probably have won the last.
    I have had a quick look at some of the 2005 results and it would seem to me that UKIP had little effect on the outcome; to save me the chore of analysing each result perhaps you could say which federalist candidates were helped by UKIP. If there were a couple of candidates that slipped through, well they are countered by the three federalist traitors from your party that voted to deny me my rights..
    There is no point in scrutinising the wretched constitution now ( some of it hasn't yet been written in any case ). It is a done deal, you cannot change a comma or full stop, so why bother. The Government have it all sorted, 3 line whip and the prospects of offers of snoutroom in the EU trough for any waverer no doubt.

    I could suggest you would be better occupied by reading through the UKIP constitution. There will be no democracy in the EU, it is not that sort of institution.
    There was a Tory, Timothy Kirkhope MEP who voted to shut up any democratic protest in the European Parliament…. not a UKIP member; Perhaps that is why people voted UKIP and not Conservative, at least they knew what they would get.

  4. Alison Saville
    Posted January 29, 2008 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood,

    I respect you immensely, and believe that if you had become Tory leader we would not be in the mess we are now in. You rebuke people for voting UKIP, but we clearly need to extricate the United Kingdom from the EU as a matter of urgency, and the majority of Conservatives do not appear to understand this. What is your remedy? What can we do to rescue our country?

    Reply: We need a majority in the Commons which reflects the Euro scpeticism of the country. My view is we need a government which will negotiate a better deal for the UK – trade, friendship and co-operation, not centralised Brussels government and powerful Court – which it should then put to the people in a referendum. Then the people could decide whether to stay in the revised arrangement or not.

  5. Ian Evans
    Posted January 29, 2008 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    We all know what Churchill said about democracy – I just wish we could have some!

  6. Posted January 30, 2008 at 1:36 am | Permalink

    One just hopes that the Human Rights Act, opt-outs, and police competencies are to be the main points against the treaty, as each of these have been protected by negotiations, with the UK patriating its own version of the HR Act, and the majority of opt-outs kept, and an exemption from the common policies on policing and judiciary.

  7. Steven_L
    Posted January 30, 2008 at 2:45 am | Permalink

    Kilroy gets my vote, he not only tells the EU what we all think of them(word left out -ed).

  8. Posted January 30, 2008 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Because it is signed, the debate will always be a "take it or leave it" affair.

    The Federal EU starts as it means to go on.

    Question: Can an MP accuse another of Treason in the House?

    Question: Why cannot MPs accuse those voting FOR the Bill as violating their oath of office?

    Reply: We have used strong language within Parliamentary rules to make our case.

  9. APL
    Posted January 30, 2008 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    JR: "We need a majority in the Commons which reflects the Euro scpeticism of the country. My view is we need a government which will negotiate a better deal for the UK – trade, friendship and co-operation, not centralised Brussels government and powerful Court – which it should then put to the people in a referendum."

    John, why do you make the case as if it was a matter of concern only for Tories. There are eurosceptics patriots on the Labour benches too you know.

    The problem from my point of view is that the Tories 'top brass' will essentially say anything to get elected then abandon the position in the face of opposition from the likes of Clarke or Hestletine or the BBC. My experience tells me I cannot trust the Tories to deliver on their promises (or even make any promises) on this issue.

    Cameron has backpeddaled away from the fishing policy that was Tory policy (or nearly so ) under Howard, Cameron has refused to withdraw the Tories from the European grouping in the EU Parliament (The ONE firm promise the party got from him).

    Knowing all this and more, your claim that the Tory party is our only salvation has a very hollow ring to it.

    No one is more sorry about that than me.

    Reply: yes there are brave Labour Euroscpetics and I admire their stance on this.All Conservative candidates for the Euro Parliament will stand on a ticket of opposition to federalism and non membership of the Christian democrat grouping.

  10. Cliff
    Posted January 30, 2008 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    John you said
    "We need a majority in the Commons which reflects the Euro scpeticism of the country. My view is we need a government which will negotiate a better deal for the UK – trade, friendship and co-operation, not centralised Brussels government and powerful Court – which it should then put to the people in a referendum. Then the people could decide whether to stay in the revised arrangement or not."

    Is this Mr Cameron's position?
    From what I have heard from him it is not. I still long for the day we can have a true right of centre Conservative leading our party.
    I agrre with Alison Saville above, we would be in a better position today, had you been elected leader of the party that was Conservative in both name and nature.

    Reply: Our policy for the last election was renegotiation and referendum.

  11. Tim Hedges
    Posted January 30, 2008 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    'I do hope all those who voted UKIP in the General Election, helping federalist candidates to become MPs, now wish they had not'. Don't try to spread the blame for Tory indecision, John.

    You will recall that at the election we had no idea of the Tories' view on Europe. I speak as one of the founders of UKIP: if the Tories can show they are sound on Europe, and Cameron has made a start, and stay sound until the next election, UKIP will go out of business. If Cameron says he will repatriate crucial powers to Parliament and accepts Bill Cash's amendments on sovereignty, that would be enough for me.

    Reply: Good – he has said he will repatriate powers, and whipped the party to vote for Bill's amendments on sovereignty

  12. Elizabeth Elliot-Pyl
    Posted January 30, 2008 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    The problem seems to me that various governments over the last 30 years have promised that THEY would stand up to the EU and THEY would change things and stop us being pushed around by the EU for the benefit of France and Germany: yet each one when in power simply rolls over and allows the other members to walk all over us.
    How can you convince us that this time it would be different? Why should we trust David Cameron to be stronger than all the other leaders who promised that they would be different?

  13. Francis Codjoe
    Posted January 30, 2008 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    The critical question facing Britain is this: "Should we blindly follow Jean Monnet's blurred vison of a 'fused' Europe, a United States of Europe, or we should follow the etxraordinary bright vision of a a Forgotten Briton> This "unknown Briton" wrote about European integration: how it would be developed, its charcter and future before the Founding Fathers of the European Union, Jean Monnet and Robergt Schuman – were born in 1888 and 1886.

    Had British politicians, since the dfays of Heath and Wilson, read what this great Briton wrote about a poilitical alliance of European nations, they would NOT have applied to join the EEC, thus saving Britain from humiliation from de Gaulle. This Briton warned the British people that they would not be saved by joining the 'vile' European confederracy. According to this Forgotten Briton, the future of Europe is very dark. He even listed all the leading members of the EU. 100 years after his prediction that Greece would join the European confederracy, Greece joined the EU in 1981. He also predicted that Turkey and Austria would join.

    Had Gordon Brown and all politiciands have examined what th grea Briton published about Europe, they woulfd have torn the treaty into pieces, Sadly, because of ignorance British politicaions are following Europeans like sheep through a gap.

    This is just a summary of my 8-year work on European integration.

  14. Francis Codjoe
    Posted January 30, 2008 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Britain must examined what a forgotten Briton published about Europezan integration, how it would be developed, its charcterr and future before the founding fathers of EU – Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman – were born in 1888 and 1886.

    This "unknon Briton" warned the British people that they would not be saved by joining the European confederacy.

    Had British politicians studied the work of this Briton they would have torn the treaty into pieces. Had Heath and co. read his work about European political allaince they would not have applied to join the Common Market thus saving themselves humiliation from Charles de Gaulle

  15. Posted February 1, 2008 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    "Reply: We need a majority in the Commons which reflects the Euro scpeticism of the country. My view is we need a government which will negotiate a better deal for the UK – trade, friendship and co-operation, not centralised Brussels government and powerful Court – which it should then put to the people in a referendum. Then the people could decide whether to stay in the revised arrangement or not."

    Ah, the Global Vision idea, yes? Mr Redwood, you know as well as I do that this position would require effective withdrawal from the EU. This, of course, is a bit of a problem vis a vis Tory policy.

    Your Chairman has stated that Tory policy is to remain in the EU.

    Your leader has said that no EU-sceptics would serve on the front bench.

    And your Head of Policy said that we should remain in the EU (when I challenged him on why this should be, he gave a derisory answer which I ripped to shreds, referencing considerable evidence. Mr Letwin then said, and I quote, that "I am sorry that you and I do not agree about this matter — but I fear that we shall have to agree to differ.").

    The majority of your colleagues may be EU-sceptic but, as Dan Hannan has pointed out, no government is ever EU-sceptic once in power. I remember the Maastricht betrayal.

    DK

    Reply: You have no positive idea – if you vote UKIP, you may stay pure, but you help lose your country to the federalists

  16. Posted February 1, 2008 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    John,

    "Reply: You have no positive idea – if you vote UKIP, you may stay pure, but you help lose your country to the federalists"

    I did advance a positive idea in the first comment on this thread. And I have never voted UKIP, as it happens.

    But I have had this debate with a couple of other Tory bloggers and it comes down to the same point: you say that I will lose my country to the federalists but, as far as I can see from the Tory actions whilst in government, the vast majority of your colleagues are no better than Labour on this issue.

    Who shall I vote for? The federalists or the arch-federalists? It's not much of a choice, is it?

    DK

  17. David Hannah
    Posted February 1, 2008 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Many of us already have a positive idea, and it involves elimination of the kleptocrats in Brussels from our system of government. It involves the restoration of free-trade with the Commonwealth, the repatriation of control over our fishing grounds, and the elimination of over 100,000 pages of legislation that we must adhere to as members of the EU. These ideas are, by coincidence, all UKIP policies. It is therefore hardly surprising that those who agree with these policies should vote for the party that espouses them.

    Unfortunately, the Conservatives offer no such vision. Your party abandoned the policy of the repatriation of control over our fishing waters, precisely because it would provoke a confrontation with Brussels that would call our membership into question. The federalists have already prevailed, to the extent that 80% of our legislation comes from a government that we do not elect, and with which, we have no affinity or allegiance. Despite this, your leader doesn

  18. Posted February 3, 2008 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    I come to this late, sorry I missed it at the time.

    Rather than the Conservative parliamentary leadership making their position clear on the Treaty after it has been ratified they have been particularly unclear

  19. Posted February 3, 2008 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    A simple statement that the Conservative party will not accept this treaty and will not recognise its ratification and will not be bound by the treaty, unless it has the clear backing of the British people will suffice to put the EU federalists on notice that the actions of this government will not be held as binding on the next Conservative government.

    Any renegotiation will then be based on the present situation and not on
    what will be considered a done deal.

    In the same manner as I believe the Conservatives although voting against ID cards have also made it clear that ID cards would be scrapped thus putting on notice all those companies who might decided to invest heavily in the scheme that a Conservative government would not be held by the actions of this Government. And they have called on the government to ensure that any contracts have get-out clauses, they have issues a formal notice to the government that the Conservatives would scrap the ID card and drew on the gentleman's agreement between successive governments that one won't tie the hands of its successor.

    David Davis has made it clear "As a matter of financial prudence, it is incumbent upon the government to ensure that public money is not wasted, and contractual obligations are not incurred, investing in a scheme with such a high risk of not being implemented,".

    Or are you suggesting that the agreement a successive government won`t be tied is no longer applicable in our parliament.

    Reply: I think voting No to the whole Treaty sends a very clear message. As far as I am concerned that means we cannot live with this Treaty.

  20. Freeborn John
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    It is clear to me that after the outright lies of the Labour & Lib Dem manifestos of 2005 I will not be voting for either of them again for the rest of my life. But can I bring myself to vote for the party of Maastricht? I am afraid that on the evidence of the weasel words I have heard so far from the Conservative Party that I cannot.

    The Conservative party needs to clearly articulate the case for leaving the EU. It is a strong case based on the restoration of democracy and the saving of vast sums of money now wasted on red tape and the CAP that should be put to better use in lowering business and/or council taxes. I do not believe any Federalists can answer this case when confronted with it. This however is a case that needs to be made by one of the main political parties in the country. Until then the BBC will continue to triangulate the position of the main parties and feed the resulting line to the country that we must stay in the EU no matter what. The Conservative Party actually have no long term future unless you make and win this argument because you will become a larger version of the CSU forever under the shade of the CDU in its Euro-guise as the EPP. But still you do not make it, staring instead into the headlights like a rabbit awaiting your fate

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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