John Redwood’s contribution to the European Union Bill, 11 Jan 2010

Mr Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): The Crown was sovereign once. It is intriguing that we are more than two hours into this debate but so far we have talked only about parliamentary sovereignty, even though the sovereignty technically still belongs to the Crown in Parliament. We all know about the events that took place over several hundred years, particularly when they were accelerated during the 17th century revolution and crisis. There was a large transfer of power from the Crown to Parliament. When a sufficiently large transfer of power takes place from someone who was sovereign to those who would be sovereign, a point is reached at which that sovereignty passes because enough power has been surrendered and the arrangements have changed sufficiently.

As other Members have suggested, we need briefly to look at how that very big transfer of power occurred in the 17th century from the Crown to Crown in Parliament and, in due course, effectively to Parliament standing on its own. One important factor was that Parliament was very good at aggregating power to itself. In those days, it decided to be very nice to bankers, which worked very well for it, because it got the City of London and the men of finance on its side. In those days, the English Navy did not have French ships in it, and Parliament made sure that it responded to the English Parliament. Parliament also took the precaution of hiring and training and paying-something quite unusual in those days-the best army in the country. It got over the problem of competing armies and, in due course, established that it had military power and could command the Army.

Parliament also needed to deal with the judges. It was established during the revolutionary period that judges were necessary and that, according to our current tradition, they had to be independent and should not interfere in parliamentary matters by trying to make the law. They simply had to deal with the law as Parliament provided it. We therefore eventually ended up with a very powerful Parliament.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Parliament did something that everyone in the House is now united in admiring: it made the exercise of power by Parliament a democratic matter by extending the franchise until practically every adult in this country was able to participate in elections. That gave Parliament the authority of having a democratic voice and mandate. The question that we are debating today is whether that great democratic settlement, in which most Members believe, is now under threat from judge-made law, from European-made law and from other centres of power. Could parliamentary sovereignty come under pressure in the not-too-distant future? Is it being damaged because too much power is being transferred? These questions account for the nervousness, certainly on the Conservative Benches, about the degree of power that has already been surrendered by successive Parliaments over the years, particularly under the most recent Government following the treaties of Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon. Under those treaties, a large number of areas were transferred either to joint decision taking or to sole European decision taking.

That means that the exercise of power in many important areas of activity, including regulation, the expenditure of money and the provision of public services now emanates from the continent. Those powers are trying to establish their own democratic credibility through the European Parliament. They are also trying to establish their own judicial credibility through the European Court of Justice, and their own administrative credibility by strengthening the powers that are exercised around the various collective corporate tables that constitute the ever-evolving, and ever more powerful, European Union settlement.

The nub of our debate today is whether there is something that this Parliament could and should do, no matter how much power has passed, how many decisions are taken through the European Union and how much money it now takes to itself and spends on our behalf, to make it clear that, should we want those powers back, we can have them back. If we wish to change or moderate what the European Union is doing, do we have every right to do so because we are still the sovereign?

Some of us fought long and hard to keep the currency under British sovereign control. These arrangements involve a British sovereign and preserve the settlement of the Queen in Parliament, and the Queen’s face appears on the banknotes of the realm, but we all know that they are Parliament’s notes and that they represent an expression of parliamentary sovereignty. Indeed, it was this very Parliament that, by a majority, approved the previous Government’s decision to print a lot more of those notes-or electronic notes-as an expression of what that sovereignty can do for the people of Britain. We can argue about whether that was a good thing or a bad thing, but it was an undoubted expression of sovereignty.

Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North) (Lab): Wisely, Britain already has a number of opt-outs from the European Union. I am thinking specifically of the single currency; it was to the great credit of our former leader that he kept us out of the euro. Would not a test arise, however, if Britain decided to opt out of something that we currently opt into? For example, if we chose to withdraw from the common fisheries policy and to place our own historic fishing grounds under democratic British control, would not that represent a test of our sovereignty?

Mr Redwood: Indeed; the hon. Gentleman makes a powerful point. I, too, would like us to opt out of the common fisheries policy. I would like us to elect a Government in this country who had the necessary majority to go off to Brussels and say, “It is now the settled will of this Parliament that we want different arrangements for fishing, and if you will not grant them through the European Union arrangements, we would like to negotiate our exit from the common fisheries policy.” That is exactly the kind of renegotiation that many of my hon. Friends were elected to achieve, and, had we had a majority, we would have wanted our Government to do something like that. There are a number of other policy areas, some of which are more politically contentious across the Floor of the House, where we think we can make better decisions here than are being made in our name by the European Union.

If such renegotiations could be achieved, we would clearly have reasserted, or asserted, the sovereignty of our Parliament. If, however, they can never be achieved, it is difficult to see how Parliament could still be sovereign. If we are saying that nothing can ever be changed once it has been agreed under the various procedures in Brussels-including the many measures that the British Government did not want or on which they were outvoted-we cannot say that we are sovereign any longer. We would then be in a relationship with the European Union that would fall short of our preserving parliamentary sovereignty.

Tonight we are discussing a narrower, but crucial, legal issue that has been well highlighted by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr Cash) and the European Scrutiny Committee, whose perception is first class in informing the debate. I do not need to repeat all those arguments. Suffice it to say that I support the important amendments proposed by my hon. Friend. As I understand it, we have a Government who say that they wish to do all they can to reassure people in this country that we are and intend to remain sovereign. They do not wish to pick a fight with Brussels, and we are not asking them to do so tonight. They say, however, that should a disagreement arise in future that cannot be resolved through the usual channels, it will be settled here. I am very much in favour of that; it seems to me to be a wholly admirable and sensible place to take the debate. If that is the intention, it proves that Parliament is still sovereign.

We are arguing only about the words used to carry out that intention. It is one of those rare magic moments when the Conservative party is completely united on its intentions. The Government’s intention to reassert parliamentary sovereignty warms the cockles of Conservative Members’ hearts. It is wonderful to know that in another debate we can have a referendum when anything important happens. There may be some arguments about what is important, but we welcome the spirit. Again, we are at one with our Government.

When eminent lawyers and colleagues who have studied this matter at much greater length than I have say to the House that they have studied it carefully, that they have what sound like moderate and sensible words that basically repeat the Government’s policy and that it would be helpful if those words were written into the legislation, my feeling is-unless the Minister has a very powerful speech coming up-what is wrong with that? If the Minister wants to reassert parliamentary sovereignty, why cannot we just say that in the Bill? It is exactly what my hon. Friend says -it does not seem difficult, so will the Minister please humour us on this occasion?

The fact remains that if we succeeded in amending the Bill in this way, we would not be truly sovereign in future unless we had the will and determination to shape our own destinies, should the need arise. I hope we can do it by agreement. Any sensible person wishes to do it by agreement, given how far we are in this thing with our European partners and what a mess they are in.

Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) (LD): The right hon. Gentleman makes an eloquent case. He and I might disagree on whether we want to withdraw from the common fisheries policy, but would he have seen any constitutional bar to that taking place had a Conservative majority Government taken office? Surely, if this was in the manifesto, he must have believed that it was possible to achieve it under the present constitutional arrangements.

Mr Redwood: Withdrawal from the common fisheries policy was not in the manifesto, although it might have been in the personal manifestos of some of my right hon. and hon. Friends. I gave it as an example because I believe it has a great deal of cross-party support. Most people think the common fisheries policy is extremely badly run and is not in the interests of the fish or the fishermen. Casting all those dead fish back into the sea is not my idea of conservation and it does not bring cheap fish to the fish market either, so it does not seem to be good news.

Successive Governments have always said that they quite agree with those of us who make such points, but they have never managed to negotiate a better deal. Would it not be wonderful if the Government said, “If we cannot negotiate a better deal next year, we will use British parliamentary sovereignty to pull out of the CFP”? I would like to do that and I do not think it would be tantamount to leaving the European Union. It would be pretty cross, but it would probably do a deal with us because it would be more embarrassing to have a sovereign Parliament taking unilateral legislative action than to do a deal. I hope the EU would do a deal; it would be sensible for it to do so.

If we are not prepared at some point to assert our power, we lose our sovereignty. Just as the Crown lost its sovereignty, became the Crown in Parliament and eventually lost practically all its real powers, so this Parliament is losing its powers. If it goes on losing them, without sensible provision being made of the kind proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr Cash) and without at some point standing up for a better deal for Britain, this Parliament, too, will no longer be sovereign.

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39 Comments

  1. alan jutson
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    John

    Did not have a chance to listen to the debate yesterday, so thank you for making your point so very clearly.

    A phrase comes to mind “use it or lose it” !.

  2. Alte Fritz
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    The onnly point with which I would not agree is that if we sought to withdraw from the fisheries policy, that would not amount to an election to leave the EU. Kelvin Hopkins raised a good question which almost answers itself.

    It puzzles me that very few advocate outright a federal Europe in which member states expressly renounce their sovereign rights. Such a position is understandable, albeit abhorrent. Substantial majorities in parliament over several decades have asserted that we remain a sovereign nation, although not to the extent that they would support Mr Cash’s amendment.

    Have they properly redefined sovereignty? Are we all wrong in our understanding of our own history as well as what makes a sovereign state outside the EU?

  3. A David H
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Mr Redwood, very clearly argued. I wonder which country will be brave enough to test whether they do still have sovereignty and what the result might be.

  4. Tom
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Last night Hugh Fearley-Whittingstall went to sea in a trawler and showed how 50% of the catch had to be returned dead because of expired quotas. He then interviewed Richard Benyon, the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Fisheries. His heart is very much in the right place and he promised that at the review of the CFP in 2012 the government would insist on abolition of the quota system and push for an alternative policy, such as a limit on days fished.

    Unfortunately virtually every Conservative manifesto (perhaps every manifesto) for the last 20 years has promised “reform”. It will not happen, and one good reason is blatant cheating by others, particularly the Spaniards.

  5. lifelogic
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    If only you were put in charge of banking the EU and everything else. I cannot see why Milliband is so personally critical of you at QT today when you are clearly one of the few talking any sense.

    Ed Milliband just sounded like a pathetic school boy against the professional PR line of Cameron today just a shame Cameron lacks your sense of direction and so will end up in the swamp anyway. Can you do any more to make Cameron/Clegg see sense and explain the urgency to him for action if the Tories are to win again.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted January 13, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I heard Milli (minor) with his dated ad hominen attacks sat next to the shadow Chancellor who doesn’t actually know what the NI rate is (sic). We don’t expect much from Labour these days but this was poor stuff even by their standards.

      I see now the Shadow Cabinet have decided (collectively) to admit to some mistakes from 2002 onwards. Can’t wait for this one.

  6. oldtimer
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Well said!

  7. Derek Buxton
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear, I was so hoping that you had caught up, but it seems not. I see your point that Parliament would appear Sovereign if, a big if, it stood up to the EU. It will not and has no intention of ever doing such a thing. Over the last few months many things have been given away, fast before this Bill no doubt, but nothing has been taken back in exchange. It is a one way street, as was always intended. The three “main parties” are all agreed, Brussels rules, ergo we are no longer a Sovereign state. And this is all the doing of our own politicians. I would even suggest that they had no right to take such a course of action without the consent of the People. The original change you refer to was with the consent of the People, this one is not. One might even think that it is unlawful as our Constitutional Documents still stand.

  8. Robert K
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    It is mind-boggling that with arguments as cogent as this that our Parliament has handed over so many of our freedoms to an un-elected bureaucracy, not to say tyranny.

  9. JoolsB
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you wholeheartedly as I’m sure do most of the population of this country. It is about time we were asked whether we want to be in Europe or not but disgracefully no Government will do this as they are afraid it will not be the answer they want to hear. How democratic is that? Talking of sovereignty and democracy, when, if ever are we ever going to hear MPs with English seats, especially Conservative MPs, get as passionate about the asymmetrical devolution act which discriminates against their constituents as they do about Europe? They could start by questioning the right of non-English MPs voting on matters which apply only to England. Brown and Blair deliberately left England out of devolution because they needed the Scottish vote to push through leglislation on English only matters, this is how England got tuition fees in the first place and yet we never hear one word of protest from our elected MPs. Why are they not angry that it is only children in England who will be saddled with crippling debts into middle age, that’s the ones who aren’t deterred from going to university, which many will? Why are they afraid to even mention the word England, is it because they are afraid England will become aware of the discrimination against it which it is already beginning to do. Unlike the rest of the UK, why were we not asked if wanted our own parliament? England voted unanimously Conservative last May but unlike the devolved nations, England does not have the luxury of getting the Government of it’s choosing, but one chosen for it by the whole of the UK before they then go on to choose their own parliament/assembly. In fact we could well have ended up with a LabLibNats coalition. Who is standing up for England and demanding an end to this discrimination as clearly our elected politicians are not. They should be ashamed of themselves. Yes the UK should not be dictated to by the EU and nor should England be dictated to by MPs with non-English seats.

  10. Jamess
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for that – very insightful. Good to see some MP’s are still concerned about Britain.

  11. lojolondon
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    John, you make a very good point and the common fisheries agreement is would be a great test – especially because it is bound to pass in parliament because it is such a failure from every aspect. But if you really want to be a proper Tory then you need to keep the promise that was made, for a referendum on the EU so that we can withdraw from the EU and save the £50million per day that is WASTED on it. That is why all proper conservatives are now voting UKIP and will continue to do so until the UK regains our rightful sovereignty.

  12. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Very good. Only one small criticism: when you listed the European treaties that surrendered some of Parliament’s powers, you failed to include Maastricht, perhaps because it was a Conservative government that signed it.

    Please now follow your arguement where it leads, which is that the next Conservative manifesto will promise to recover some of the powers already surrendered, whether or not other EU member states approve.

  13. Bernard Otway
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    What I want to ask John is WHY have all three parties given so much away,I cornered the libdem candidate in my constituency at a meeting of all candidates[minus the UKIP one sinister ? } in my constituency Banstead before may 6,about several issues and especially the EU,I can honestly say I eviscerated her,Much to Crispin Blunt,s discomfort,she could not give me any justification for staying in,I did exactly the same thing with the LIEBOUR candidate
    on their record and the economy,but attacked him savagely about Brown,s giving our gold away for a pittance giving in front of the audience the FIGURES,you see I was in South Africa from 1981 till 2008 so I know everything about Gold ,peoples eyes went like saucers when I told them how much was lost at the gold price in april 2010.I believe there must be some kind of mist that descends in pro europe mp,s brains which addles them.I predict this issue unless it is resolved with us out could be as epoch making as the events you talk about from the 17th century,europe is a giant ponzi scheme to bleed us dry,the polltax riots will look like a tea party,except we will have our own TEA PARTY movement centred around this issue which GLUES all the others and prevents proper action,like immigration,law and order,human rights,political correctness etc etc.I am a conservative since 1960 BUT
    now am UKIP it is my only option,they have even taken my advice about tomorrow,s
    bye election and how to fight it, just look at their posters and literature I predict a big increase in their vote,enough I hope to scare David Cameron,he should be ashamed of himself to have lost me my ancestors must be spinning.Given my experiences in defying Apartheid and marrying a non white for which they dared not touch me in case of the bad publicity ,I am not an opponent to take lightly as I never give in .In my block of 21 flats
    I have converted all to UKIP and all were labour,and all over 55 who make up the biggest
    voting age group.I am retired and have all the time and inclination to push this hard.
    I will email you personally with other details about me in South Africa concerning recent current events there to show you even more.

    • Ken
      Posted January 12, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      I too can foresee the formation of our own Tea Party working in parallel with current parties. This would allow certain MPs to stay in their respective parties while lending their support to the new movement. I cannot see the prospect of any whipping on this. In fact, as it could help vent some pent up opinion from the Conservative Party it may actual help to preserve the coalition.

      However, I see two hurdles (both jumpable, I’m sure): (i) the BBC will try its best to ignore, trivialise or mock it; (ii) within such a movement there would be a fault line between the UK-wide parties and the English-only parties.

  14. Iain Gill
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    its needs someone like bob geldof to ask to PM in front of the cameras why we are throwing so many fish away when we have folk needing the food, that would make good TV

    it needs small chipping away at the bigger issue and reform of how MP’s get selected and whipped because they are not reflecting the people

  15. Mike Stallard
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for actually doing something about the encroachments of the Commission of unelected and unpopular Eurocrats.
    The fisheries policy scandal was first exposed by Christopher Booker about ten years ago. It still goes on.
    Dan Hannan usually speaks to an empty chamber. so much for democratic accountability.
    Marta Andreasen has exposed the accountancy scandal.
    What are we waiting for?

    And WHY wasn’t it reported on any news channels? Any ideas?

    • APL
      Posted January 13, 2011 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      “The fisheries policy scandal was first exposed by Christopher Booker about ten years ago.”

      Fleetingly, there was a Tory policy to address the issue too. David Cameron dropped that policy.

      That would be the EU sceptical David Cameron.!

  16. Ken
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    There were some excellent speeches in the debate but I was stuck by this point from Bernard Jenkin:

    “If it had been explained to Parliament in 1971, when the European Communities Bill was progressing through the House, that in future a UK court would be able to strike down an Act of Parliament in the name of the European Union, there would never have been any possibility that we would have joined.”

  17. Ken
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    I think it was sad that the the media virtually ignored a debate over who is in charge of our country.

    • alan jutson
      Posted January 13, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      Ken

      Your point highlights exactly why the vast majority of the UK population do not think Europe is an important topic in politics. They simply are unaware of how much influence, how much power, how many laws and regulations are made by Europe, and the cost of such Membership.

      At last one Newspaper, the Daily Express is now attempting to promote the subject, but so far it is a lone voice. Until the BBC and others report on these subjects many of the population will remain starved of facts.

  18. Anoneumouse
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    Bill Cash’s amendment was defeated by 39 to 314. (353)

    Ok, lets do the maths. There are 650 members of parliament, that means 297 members didn’t give a dam about UK parliamentary sovereignty and didn’t turn up to vote.

    Oh the irony, In 1940 the R.A.F.’s Fighter Command began the Battle of Britain with about 650 Hurricanes and Spitfires.

    It’s just as well the Luftwaffe didn’t have a pairing arrangement with the RAF eh.

    Reply: Labour were asked to abstain by their whips.

    • alan jutson
      Posted January 13, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      John

      You reply

      “Labour were asked to abstain by their Whips”

      Sums up exactly what is wrong with our System, “Lobby Fodder”.
      Sheepish MP’s of all Parties, frightened to speak their mind, or vote according to their beliefs.

      We may as well have puppets in Parliament.

      We need to introduce some sort of rule.

      If you do not attend a debate, you cannot vote on it. Aware it causes problems for Government Ministers, but at least all Mp’s voting get to hear the arguments in full, and do not just simply turn up to vote having heard nothing.

      Mp’s seek to represent the people when they want to be elected, but most do not when they are elected, it seems its Party at almost any cost.

    • norman
      Posted January 13, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      What those numbers do is lay the lie to rest that the Conservative Party at large is pro-British / EU sceptic. With Labour abstaining, and thus removing the largest block to the EU sceptic vote, this was the perfect opportunity for the EU sceptic Tory Party to back Bill Cash’s amendment. What was so bad about it (other than the fact it came from Bill Cash who comes from the detested right of the Party)? It simply reinforced what the main Bill alleges to do – time will tell whether this Bill is a cast-iron lock on future power shifts or not.

      At least 39 MP’s do back Parliament over Europe. Which probably about the right number of EU sceptics in the Party, so diluted has it become by centrally appointed shortlists and the rest whipped into submission.

    • Simon
      Posted January 13, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      Says it all that they were whipped on an issue of conscience .

      As David Owen said twenty years ago :-

      “The notion that the House of Commons is made up of 650 MPs who individually reach carefully considered opinions and who act as a brake on the Executive is so far from the truth as to be ludicrous. The Whips are in absolute command. The Executive is in total control. What the government says goes.”

      What were the instructions from the Conservative Whips ?

  19. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    John, I was fortunate to hear your excellent speech live on the Parliamentary channel. How a man of your intellect and talents can be left out of government betrays so much about the parlous state of the current Coalition and its slim chances of success.

  20. Alte Fritz
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    I have just briefly read through volume 1 of the Committee’s report. Whilst much good work has gone into the report, there seems to have been little inclination to take the bold step of predicting what would happen if, for example, Parliament expresssly struck down a European measure having direct effect.

    The view that Parliamentary sovereignty is a common law creation of judges strikes me as a significant blow in a judicial attempt to take power from Parliament. Notwithstanding Mr R’s quite proper distinction between sovereignty and power, a power struggle is in evidence.

    I ask (rhetorically) what would happen if the British Parliament struck down, after a failure to negotiate, a signifcant EU policy. Where woould the judges stand? The EU would have no interest in academic opinions. There would be a tough struggle to determine who was master. For the UK to emerge sovereign would then not be a legal exercise but a revolution.

    If anyone is interested, I urge them to read Madzimbamuto v Lardner Burke which is on the web and is a 1969 Privy Council decsion on successsful revolutions.

  21. WitteringsfromWitney
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    Sir,

    A tad surprised to see no comment from you in respect of the reply you received in response to the question you posed to David Lidington:

    “(Hansard column 251):

    “Mr Redwood: Will the Minister tell the House that he wishes to assert parliamentary sovereignty and resist judicial incursions, even if he will not put that in the Bill?

    Mr Lidington: Yes. I am an elected Member of Parliament. I did not campaign for many years to come here to hand over the powers and privileges of the House of Commons to unelected groups of any sort.”

    I find Lidington’s answer both hypocritical and contradictory to his position as a Minister of State. Perhaps you would care to comment?

    Reply: I wanted to ensure that the Hansard record included the aim of the government to uphold UK Parliamentary sovereignty, even if they would not use those words in the Bill itself. That could be important later if these matters ever come before judges.

    • Anoneumouse
      Posted January 13, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Pepper v Hart [1993] 1 All ER 42

      It’s basically that Judges can look to Hansard in some circumstances in order
      to determine what the meaning of a piece of legislation is, but only where
      the meaning cannot be determined by looking at the statute itself. Only
      statements by the sponsor of the bill, or Government Ministers, made at the
      time that the legislation is going through Parliament, are relevant.

  22. Jonathan Stuart-Brow
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    When John Redwood is in the Cabinet, THEN we can hope for some traditional freedom and wise economic management which releases British creativity across The UK. Until then….!!!!

  23. Duyfken
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    I was lucky to be able to watch, and enjoy, the whole debate; my congratulations to you and to others who spoke so well on the subject. Despite the attendance being limited largely only to those who supported the amendment, I am sure the most cogent of the points have been registered by the Government (as indicated by their agreement to correct the “explanatory notes”).

    With Labour’s withdrawal of support, the amendment was obviously lost, but I am disappointed that few Tories, other than the usual suspects, dared to vote for it.

  24. The ESSEX GIRLS
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    We repeat a comment we made here 2 weeks ago.
    Do you have a response please?

    The ESSEX GIRLS
    Posted December 28, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Permalink
    John, why is it in your view that against the background of loss of sovereignty, costs and firm public opinion that the government of the day continues to back our membership? There does seem an illogicallity to the commitment and there must be a basic reason which escapes the broad public?
    They can’t ALL see themselves climbing aboard the gravy train can they?

  25. Steve S
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    It all began with Maastricht, a Treaty that Mrs Thatcher would never have signed. There is no getting away from the fact that it was a Conservative government that took us in, a Conservative government that signed up to the Maastricht three pillars, and that damage can only practically be repaired by our complete withdrawal from the EU. That is probably the only practical demonstration of Sovereignty we could exercise. This referendum lock bill isn’t worth the parchment it will be enacted upon.

  26. Javelin
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    The Irish have recently taken on $350 bilion (hard to be exact) but can only pay $30 billion per year. They simply can’t service their own debt – the question is whether the EU (i.e. Germany or UK) are going to service this debt for them or take a hair cut. I think it would be foolish to throw any more money at the Irish or this could end up looking like the afternoon of the ERM debacle in slow motion.

    So the question I ask myself is how the Irish are going to get out of their mess. If haircuts are given then I think this will raise the rates on the PIGS and possibly push Portugal into the same situation as Ireland. But if they don’t and the Germans agree to service the Irish debt then the PIGS will go begging to the Germans. This will weaken the EU and will probably cause the Irish and Portugese to be pushed out the ECB and hung out to dry.

    Having said this I still think Italy is the dark horse. The banking system is conservative – and very opaque. It’s still stuck back in the days of Lombards and the federate states. Italian banks have serviced quite a lot of Irish borrowing (so the bond salesdesks have told me) – so I wouldnt be surprised if the Italians will quietly be trying to figure out their exposure.

  27. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Excellent speech, and although the vote was lost so dismally and so shamefully there was no doubt in my mind that the argument was won.

  28. Javelin
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    John. I want to undermine your argument for a better one. As I understand the constitution in the Uk the monarch is STILL sovereign. They open and close Parluament and sign legislation. Of couse they have given up almost all power to Government and the judiciary and the crown is in Parliament AND the courts to show this. However the power of sovereignty still remains with the Monarch. Until the Monarch gives their final power to The EU the all and every bit of legislation is open and up for change with the Monarchs authorisation. We are subjects and not citizens.

  29. Andrew Johnson
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    An excellent speech Mr Redwood. You have been telling us that there is no majority in the Conservative party for a tougher stance on Europe, or an In/Out referendum. Do you have any advice for Euro sceptic Conservative voters now?

  30. AndyC71
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    I’ve read up on all this in more detail now, and it seems very simple: Britain either repeals the 1972 Act or accepts a permanent loss of sovereignty and steady reduction in scope for independent action.

    In this respect – though your speech was admirable and I support Bill Cash’s intentions – the whole exercise has been pointless because the only action that will make a substantive difference is repeal of the 1972 Act.

    The question now becomes who to vote for. Would a Conservative majority government repeal the Act? I doubt it. I simply don’t know where Mr Cameron stands on the issue, much as no-one ever knew where Mr Major stood. Mr Hague’s attitude I find even more puzzling, since his position used to be clear. My local MP – I don’t live in Wokingham – is not interested in the issue, which I also find a strange attitude in a newly-elected Conservative.

    So it’s got to be UKIP really for this former Conservative voter. I don’t find that a wholly appealling prospect, although having just read it, I disagree with very little in their latest manifesto. It would be nice to think that 30 or 40 Conservative MPs would also make the switch, because – despite best intentions – they are doing no good where they are.

    Prior to Lisbon, the situation was disagreeable but tolerable. It is now intolerable. We have no sovereignty; how many more powers will have been lost by the time of the next election? How will they ever be recovered, and by whom?

  31. Angry Saver
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Re: the power of the Whips

    This could be broken by making all parliementary votes by secret ballot.

    MPs should have these rules on any issue

    They represent the will of their constituents and have first responsibility to them when voting.

    If the will of the constituents clashes with an MPs personal conscience then they must stand down as an MP or nevertheless vote as constuents require.

    A right to recall by constiruents for a by-election if they do not represent their constituents views.

    Loyalty to Party for preferment would be replaced by demonstrating and proving ability.

    Let us take back our democracy and let us have binding referenda on Europe (in or out). capital punishment, and immigration.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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