I welcome your establishment of a new group dedicated to reversing ever closer union. We need new thinking, new energy and new names in the cause. I also understand your wish to define new language and a new position for a new Parliament.
It seems to me this will in part be done for us by the rapid rush of events. We can indeed say we have a new cause for new circumstances. Never has the drive towards ever closer union been so fast or so furious, so desperate or so necessary, as the 17 battle to save their single currency. We can with George Osborne say we see their need to dash helter skelter for full economic and fiscal union. They in turn must understand that we as non members of the Euro cannot possibly join in such a move. We will need a different relationship with the emerging unified economic government of Euroland.
They need our support and approval to use mechanisms, money and people involved in the EU to run their tighter and more controlled central core. We in turn want more than a simple opt out from the more intrusive new measures they require. We need powers back to govern ourselves more fully, and this is the time and the chance to gain them.
Those of us who have urged a looser relationship for us for many years in Parliament have had two important victories on which we can now draw. The first was to keep the UK out of the Euro. This is fundamental to our current position, and is the origin of our need for a new relationship now they need to mend the Euro by stronger central controls. The second was persuading our party to oppose Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon in Parliament. In the case of each Treaty we strongly opposed the transfer of powers, the accretions of more areas to the acquis, and the surrender of a large number of vetoes.
My suggestion is we should make a very modest proposal to the EU, urging our government to use this moment to negotiate a long term solution to the UK’s problem. The proposal would be that we will happily allow the other members to do whatever they like without our seeking to block or veto it. In return we will be given the right to opt out of anything that the EU has agreed or may agree in the future, as Parliament sees fit. The rest of the EU would be spared the UK acting as the brake on the train, the wrecker at the unification party. The UK would be spared having law and regulation forced upon us with which we did not agree.
Normally we would go along with new and old EU legal proposals. We would still sit down to negotiate and draft with the others. We often might reach collective agreement with them and happily implement what was decided. We would not however, be able to hold them up or resist if they were determined to do something, and they would not be able to force us to do it. We would need to be able to go back over past agreements, but would do so sparingly and only after raising it with them to see if all EU members might like to repeal or amend the offending law.
The UK would be a democracy again, where one Parliament could not bind another in perpetuity by including the measure as an EU law. Moderate Eurosceptics would no longer feel oppressed by EU measures, as extreme ones could be suspended in the UK. Pro Europeans could relax that we have not tried to withdrawn from the EU – they are still in and they can try to persuade us to accept more not less. Those who want to come out completely can press for less, seeking to use Parliamentary channels to remove blocks of EU law which they do not like. It seems to me to be the best way to let us all have our views on how much Europe we want, and to channel them within a UK Parliamentary framework.
Is this negotiable? I think in the extreme circumstances of Euroland today it is. It can be presented accurately as the permanent solution to the British problem. The EU could be shown that it still means we make financial contributions and trade under most of their rules, advantages for them. What better offer could there be, when UK opinion is now so sceptical about our relationship with the EU?