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Mr. Ancram: I am in middle of making it; perhaps the hon. Gentleman should wait until I have finished making the point before seeking to intervene on it.

I welcome this enlargement because it moves us towards the completion of Europe in a way that was impossible in the days of the cold war. As my noble Friend Lady Thatcher said in her famous speech 15 years ago:

Now those great European cities have regained their roots and are undeniably European again. I believe that everyone in all parts of the House will welcome that.

Mr. Bryant: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. He congratulated the accession countries on their determination to join the EU. Will he therefore distance himself from Conservative Members of the European Parliament who campaigned in several of the referendums in accession countries against their joining?

Mr. Ancram: We made it clear all along in this House that we believed in accession and wanted enlargement of the European Community. That was the position of the Conservative party and it is exactly what we have said all the way along.

I think that we should recall history. We should recall that Europe has never been the introverted, defensive and conformist entity that so many eurocrats like to paint it as. Europe is broad and varied, speckled and different, and combative and affectionate. To an historian, Poland, which is famous for its bravery, has always been a natural part of European history, along with the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It is not often remembered—it may be that not many people know this—that the Lithuanians were the first European people to defeat the Mongols.

Today, we welcome these countries, together with those other vital parts of European history and culture, the Czech and Slovak Republics and the Republics of Hungary and Slovenia. As Lady Thatcher recognised, they lie at the geographical heart of Europe. Like the Foreign Secretary, we welcome the accession of the Republic of Cyprus, although we regret that it is not possible for the island to join us whole. We delighted in the accession of the Republic of Malta, whose courage and resilience we in this country recognise and know well. Like the Foreign Secretary, I hope that we may one day welcome Romania and Bulgaria, and possibly, in due course and if European Union criteria are met, even Turkey.

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We are looking now not at an old, outdated fortress Europe, but at a new, vibrant and forward-looking Europe—a patchwork quilt of cultures, interests and values. We should now be turning our backs on a coercive, conformist Europe where power is increasingly drawn to the centre. That is yesterday's unenlarged Europe. We look to tomorrow's Europe as one that rejoices in diversity, recognises national rather than supranational interests and works on the basis of co-operation rather than coercion. That is what we believe is meant by a true partnership of sovereign nations.

Ann Winterton (Congleton): I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way. He is at a very important part of his speech. Can he confirm that the 10 applicant countries have without exception accepted the terms of all previous treaties in the European Union and have signed up lock, stock and barrel to the acquis communautaire, which seems to me to suggest that the Europe about which he is talking and which he hopes will come into place in the future is not actually on offer at present?

Mr. Ancram: My hon. Friend makes a very important point that I was going to mention a little later. The applicant countries know what they have signed up to, but they will now face an intergovernmental conference that will supersede those treaties. I shall deal with the issue later, but my understanding is that those countries will not have full voting rights in that process, although they will be bound by whatever comes out of it. That is a very important point and we need to come back to it.

I want to seek to clear up a little confusion—or perhaps I should say, given the turmoil in the Government at the moment on all matters European, a little of the confusion. The Prime Minister claimed last week that our call for a referendum on the new constitutional treaty had been made because we were against enlargement. As I said, he said that the constitution was necessary to make enlargement work. He has clearly not realised that enlargement can and will proceed now with or without a new constitutional treaty. Either he has not done his basic homework or he has done it but does not want an honest debate, as that is the position, as the Library has made perfectly clear.

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition remonstrated with the Prime Minister, only to be met by an hysterical and clearly rattled outburst of invective. Yesterday, in an extraordinary and intemperate letter, the Prime Minister turned fact and history on their heads and accused my right hon. Friend of jeopardising enlargement, claiming that he sought to take Britain out of the EU. I wish to make it clear that that is not only totally untrue, but black propaganda of the most cynical and disreputable kind. It was not my right hon. Friend who said that the EU

and was a reason for coming out; it was the Prime Minister in Beaconsfield in 1982. It was not my right hon. Friend who said that the EU had

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and that withdrawal should be negotiated. Again, that was the Prime Minister, in his election address in Sedgefield in 1983. I can tell the House that we will take no lessons from the Prime Minister on hostility to Europe and inconsistency in his approach to Europe.

While I am on this theme, may I ask whether it is true that the Foreign Secretary, who was happy to quote me—I hope that he will listen for a moment—called at the Wembley conference in 1980 for withdrawal from Europe? How strange that that seems to have slipped his mind.

Mr. Straw: I did not speak at the Wembley conference in 1980, as far as I remember. I may be wrong, but it was a long time ago.

Mr. Ancram: I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will wish to correct the impression given by a report on him by Andrew Roth, who seems to remember it well.

The truth is that we believe in enlargement and want to make it work. What is clear is that it will not work in an environment that forces the accession countries to conform and toe the line. There is too much variety in Europe for that. Yet that is what the Government and their centralising allies are concocting and proposing. For all the weasel words of the Secretary of State for Wales, that is what is likely to emerge from the Convention. The Prime Minister was wrong to say that the measures being considered by Giscard d'Estaing for the new constitution are vital for enlargement. They are not. He would have been nearer the mark if he had said that what is emerging from the Convention would make successful enlargement that much more difficult.

Mr. Tom Harris: Is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting that, with the accession of 10 new countries to the European Union, the existing constitution in its informal form needs no amendment whatever? Is that the position of the Conservative party?

Mr. Ancram: No. I do not know how many debates on Europe the hon. Gentleman has attended, but I have been arguing from the Dispatch Box that we want a much more flexible Europe precisely because enlargement is coming. I am now saying that the Convention will produce something that is even worse than what we have at the moment, move us away from a Europe of nations towards a supranational situation and make it even more difficult for enlargement to work.

Mr. Bercow: Does my right hon. Friend agree that, 60 years on, it remains impossible to improve on the position as it was articulated by Winston Churchill:

Mr. Ancram: I am grateful not just for my hon. Friend's perfect recollection of Winston Churchill's words, but for the point he has made.

Mr. Straw: What is the right hon. Gentleman's response to that eloquent intervention, though? The

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logical conclusion of what the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) has just said is that we should not be in the European Union. Is that the right hon. Gentleman's view?

Mr. Ancram: No. What it means is that we should be in a partnership of sovereign nations. That is what "sovereign nation" means. The Foreign Secretary frequently talks about a partnership of sovereign nations, but his intervention shows that he does not understand what sovereignty means, and is quite prepared to alienate it because he does not think it matters.

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