REFORM OF THE EUROPEAN UNION – 18 September 2012
Mr Philip Hollobone (in the Chair, Westminster Hall): I will now impose a time limit, otherwise the wealth of talent before me simply will not fit into the time available ... the time limit will be three minutes ... [After Peter Bone,] I call Julian Lewis, then Bill Cash and Alec Shelbrooke. ...
Dr Julian Lewis: Mr Hollobone, thank you for announcing the batting order in advance. I have waited many years to find myself between a Bone and a Stone, and today I have achieved that poetic distinction. Having said that, I deeply resent the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) has just made the speech that I was about to make, particularly the remarks about my hon. Friend the Member for South Northamptonshire (Andrea Leadsom) – the Front Bench’s loss is the Back Benches’ temporary gain – and my hon. Friend the Minister (Mark Simmonds), who worked extremely hard in opposition as a Shadow Minister and richly deserves his belated promotion.
That great Eurosceptic Tony Benn would not thank me for saying that he has something in common with the arch-federalists, but I am afraid he does. Whenever Labour lost an election for being too extreme and left-wing, he would always say that the result of that election showed that the Labour Party had had not enough Socialism in its manifesto, rather than too much. That, I am afraid, is what we are experiencing with Europe at the moment: the worse it gets, the more federalist it wishes to become. History owes a debt of gratitude to the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Gordon Brown), without whose intervention the previous Labour Government would have signed us up to the European single currency. That goes to show that everybody is good for something. It is only a pity that the modern Labour Party does not subscribe as firmly to the blocking tactics that former Prime Minister employed so successfully, to the benefit of the country.
I do not mind looking back a little, because the longer one is in this place the more one sees the same things going round and round. Again and again, people such as my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Bill Cash) are derided as being in some way on the fringe of politics, as outlandish, extreme and wrong; they are then proven to have been right, and the people who were actually wrong always end up carrying on as if nothing had happened. I am a little concerned that our current Chancellor of the Exchequer seems to accept that there is a “remorseless logic” to fiscal union for the people on the Continent. Fiscal and political union on the Continent is not in Britain’s interests and we should oppose it. We should not allow ourselves to be drawn down that route. Our benefit lies in a system of free, interacting nation states within Europe.