This week-end 100 Conservatives have expressed their support for an important letter to the Prime Minister. We are impatient at the way the Coalition is prevented from renegotiating or giving us a referendum this Parliament on our current membership. Conservative MPs are pressing the government to deal immediately with the worst pinch points of EU policy like immigration and energy prices by legislating in the UK. We are seeking to reassert Parliamentary sovereignty. Once we have used the formula of passing an amendment or repeal of an EU measure “notwithstanding the 1972 European Communities Act” we are in a strong position to gradually correct the damage EU policy is doing. This would be good law in the UK. We would not accept any legal challenge from the European Court, and rule that out in our UK law. Such action could of course trigger the political renegotiation the UK needs with the other member states, and allow us to explain from a position of strength that we wish to trade with them but not to be governed by them.
The argument that such a veto would make a single market impossible is untrue. The so called single market programme has been hijacked by federalists who have used it to produce a massive extension of EU government. Changing that would not prevent a profitable trade between EU nations. As the rest of the EU sells us much more than we sell them they would of course wish to keep sensible tariff and other arrangements to allow the trade to continue.
The letter says:
“Dear Prime Minister,
Each time you have stood up for British interests in Brussels, you have achieved a great deal. We would like you to consider adopting the ideas put forward by the European Scrutiny Committee, which would re-establish a national veto over current and future EU laws and enable Parliament to disapply EU legislation, where it is in our vital national interests to do so. This would transform the UK’s negotiating position in the EU.
This would reinforce the point you made last week in your FT article, in which you suggested that the right of “free movement” in the EU should be a “qualified right”.
It is clear that that is a direct challenge to the existing ‘acquis’, and indeed your article prompted EU Commissioner Reding immediately to claim such a step was “non-negotiable”. However, we believe you are on to something fundamental and which must be pursued.
You have similarly talked about “the return of Britain’s opt-out from social and employment legislation in those areas which have proved most damaging to our economy and public services”; “a complete opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights”; and “limiting the European Court of Justice’s jurisdiction over criminal law to its pre-Lisbon level and ensuring that only British authorities can initiate criminal investigations in Britain.”
Your Bloomburg speech also made clear your challenge to the status quo in the EU when you justifiably asserted: “It is national parliaments, which are, and will remain, the true source of real democratic legitimacy and accountability in the EU.”
In making these statements, you have the fullest support of the Conservative Party – and the majority of voters. Most importantly, you are also speaking in the national interest. However, clarity about how we will achieve these objectives is vital for our credibility. The European Scrutiny Report provides precisely that.
Last week European Scrutiny Committee agreed a unanimous report.
The report cites the existing Article 4(2) of the Treaty on European Union, which requires that the EU “shall respect the essential state functions” of its member states, and that this means respecting the democracy of the member states. Accordingly, the Committee’s report recommends that “there should be a mechanism whereby the House of Commons can decide that a particular legislative proposal should not apply to the UK”. Further, it recommends “parallel provision should be made to enable a decision of the House of commons to disapply parts of the existing acquis.”
This proposal would enable the Government, for example, to recover control over our borders, to lift EU burdens on business, to regain control over energy policy and to disapply the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (which is set impose enormous costs on British business and taxpayers) in popular and sensible ways.
We would urge you to back the European Scrutiny Committee proposal and make the idea of a national veto over current and future EU laws a reality.