CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

EUROPE – EMU – 16 March 2000

Dr Julian Lewis: According to one of the many best-selling biographies of the Leader of the House [Margaret Beckett], she was a distinguished member of the Labour Common Market Safeguards Committee. She will therefore appreciate the significance of yesterday's statement by the European Commissioner in charge of economic and monetary union, Mr. Pedro Solbes, who declared:

"In the longer term it's not possible to be in the [European] Union and outside EMU."

Will she find time for an early statement by the Foreign Secretary about those blackmailing tactics by unelected Commission officials, particularly in the light of the statement last October by the President of the Commission, Mr. Prodi, that the European Commission is in reality the Government of Europe?

[Margaret Beckett: I thank the hon. Gentleman, but I must slightly correct him: I do not think that there have been any biographies of me, but there are various biographical summaries of varying accuracy. They are correct in identifying that I was a member of the Common Market Safeguards Campaign. I understand the hon. Gentleman's point about the commissioner's remarks, but I would simply say to him that, not only do I not regard that as blackmail, but I do not even regard it as new. EMU has been a clear potential consequence of our involvement in the European Union from the very beginning, as those of us who urged caution at the time pointed out to the British people. I recognise that many Conservative Members were putting a different point of view at the time, and I hope that they are sorry, but it is too late.]