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Its so blatant...This is obviously all about David positioning himself for a future contest. A spokesman for Mr. Brown said the PM would be relaxed about
this. That should concern the Foreign Secretary, because that was the official line of the Prime Minister when he was Chancellor and Tony Blair hung on to office for several extra yearshe was meant to be relaxed about it.
The Foreign Secretary has received the endorsement of the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott), the former Deputy Prime Minister, who says he is a brilliant man and a future leader of the Labour party. The right hon. Gentleman asked for the Foreign Secretary to be one of his junior Ministers. How the Foreign Secretary must regret that that did not happen, as all the right hon. Gentlemans administrative skills would have rubbed off on him.
The Foreign Secretary should go to Bury, Southampton and Nuneaton. He might call in at Crewe and Nantwich. He could take a trip down river to city hall. He will find the British view, which is that the country at large does not think that the Government have a very good idea of the British view and wants a different Government instead. If he really wants to be leader of the Labour party, he would do better to stand up for the British view that Lisbon should not be ratified and that European
political integration has gone far enough. Instead of opposing in government the settled will of the British people, he should support the settled will of the British.
Keith Vaz: I am most grateful to the shadow Foreign Secretary for giving way a second time. Does he recall his roadshow, which was launched in 1999 on the back of a lorry? I think it lasted about a month.
Mr. Hague: It lasted, to my huge inconvenience, a lot more than a month and took me all over the country, including to places held at the time by the Labour party. I recommend that the Foreign Secretary do the same and I look forward to his embarking on it.
We face the position of ratification being decided in the other placeindeed, during this afternoon. It is out of the hands of the House. Of course, the casting votes down in the other place belong to the Liberal Democrats. That is why I have to say a word.
Mr. Hague: No, let me discuss this point. I have written twice to the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. Clegg), asking for an explanation of the position taken by the Liberal Democrats in the other place, and in particular why they differ in almost every respect from the position taken by the Liberal Democrats here. I have yet to receive a reply. I am looking forward to the hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey) setting those matters out in his speech.
Future students of our politics will be intrigued by some of these questions, such as why Liberal Democrat peers abstained on a vote on an in-out EU referendum when Liberal Democrat Members here were so angry at not getting such a vote that they stormed out of the House in great fury at the decision of Mr. Speaker. The Liberal Democrats said at the time that that was the real debate the country wanted, yet when the debate took place in the other place, they decided to abstain.
The Liberal Democrats also voted in this House to increase parliamentary control of what we call the ratchet clauses, yet in the other place the Liberal Democrats voted against increasing parliamentary control. Otherwise, the amendment would have been carried. In this House, an amendment on parliamentary scrutiny of the internal market was tabled in the name of the hon. Member for Twickenham (Dr. Cable). When an identical amendment was tabled in the other place, the Liberal Democrats voted against it.
Those future students will be intrigued to see that Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords voted against a referendum on a three-line Whip, although Liberal Democrats in this House were on a three-line Whip to abstain. Several leading Liberal Democrat Members had to resign over it. Those future students will also be intrigued as to whether it was worth having a Liberal
Democrat leadership election or whether the Liberal Democrats should just have left the post vacant, because there is no sign of any decisiveness.
we should not just somehow airbrush out of history the Irish vote. I really hope that the European elites wont behave with the arrogance that a lot of people think they should,
the Government should not proceed with the final stage of ratification.
We have previously discussed the sad journey of the cojones that were thrust into view by the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam in his article of some time ago, and we concluded that they had been impaled on a distant fence. It now appears, after what the Liberal Democrats have been doing in the Commons and in the Lords, that those cojones have been separated from each other. This is the new agony in which the Liberal Democrats have been placed. No doubt everything will become clear in a few minutes.
I get the impression that the right hon. Gentleman does not really like the treaty of Lisbon, that he is quite happy with the Irish decision and that he hopes that it will lead to the killing of the treaty. I think I have that right. Now, to take it on from there, will he tell us what he wants to happen? Is he content with the EU carrying on with the Nice treaty? Would he like to unpick that or would he like to have Nice plus, or very Nice, as it is sometimes called?
Mr. Hague: I shall conclude my speech, if I am able to get to the conclusion, with what I think the EU should focus on now. I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his perceptiveness in realising, after all these debates, that I am opposed to the Lisbon treaty and am glad that the Irish have indeed rejected it.
Irish no... less serious than the previous French and Dutch noes,
after which the EU at least decided to drop the constitutional treaty in its original form. To do otherwise would send the clearest message that the views of small countries do not count in the EU and that when their voters object to a treaty the EUs preferred answer is to bully them into voting again until they get the answer right.
Mr. Davidson: I want to raise the point relating to recognition of the views of small countries. I refer the right hon. Gentleman to the excellent early-day motion 1828, which quotes the Polish Prime Minister, who said that
irrespective of the results of the referendum in Ireland... Europe will find a way of implementing this treaty.
Does the right hon. Gentleman not feel that that demonstrates clear contempt for the Irish vote? Indeed, to show that it is not only right wingers who take that view, Axel Schäfer, leader of the SPD in the Bundestag, said that
with all respect for the Irish vote, we cannot allow the huge majority of Europe to be duped by the minority of a minority of a minority.
Mr. Hague: I very much agree with the hon. Gentleman. Of course, those remarks are not in accordance with the position expressed by our own Government, who say that the result should be respected, even though they have not taken any action to respect it. We have heard a lot about respecting the Irish referendum result, although those comments are wholly in conflict with that.
I want to pick up on a point that was made earlier to the Foreign Secretary by one of my hon. Friends, which is that respecting the result should mean not only dropping, or at least suspending, ratification here, but ceasing preparatory work on implementing the treaty, because to carry on with that would be disrespectful to Irish voters. It should mean ending the work on the European external action service, including on which Commission departments are to be transferred to the service, how the Commissions directorates-general relate to it and so on. It should mean ensuring that the Fundamental Rights Agency works on the basis that the charter of fundamental rights is still only a political declaration and not legally binding. It should mean that preparations for the establishment of the new permanent post of President of the Council are stopped, which should at least save some money. It should mean that all legislative proposals are strictly based on current treaty provisions. We could have much firmer guarantees from the Government on those points than anything we have heard so far in the debate.
There is so much for the EU to do. The Foreign Secretary rightly spoke about a broader agenda, and the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Rob Marris) asked what the agenda of the EU should be. I think that the EU could quite happily drop the treaty and get on with the job in hand of getting the EU to deliver on the proper priorities of global warming, global competitiveness, global poverty and, as the Foreign Secretary rightly mentioned, the millennium development goals.
There is much to do on global warming, such as putting a real price on carbon to get the emissions trading scheme working properly. On global poverty, we should do the one thing that would do most to empower the poorest people in the world and reach a successful conclusion on the Doha trade round, or we should sort out the severe failures in EU aid programmes caused by bureaucracy and administrative shortcomings. On global competitiveness, we need to keep working at the nuts and bolts of success: the timely transposition of internal
market directives, the completion of public procurement rules and the need to ensure the free movement of goods by mutual recognition of standards.
Those are not glamorous or far-reaching political institutional projects, but they are indispensable to success, including success in the full liberalisation of EU energy markets and improving the valuable but compromised services directive. The EU should be leading the fight in the world to ensure that we do not heed the sirens calling for protectionismvoices that Lisbon would make it harder for the European Court of Justice to ignore by downgrading the importance of undistorted competition in the treaties.
The Government should be urging such an agenda at this weeks summit and on the forthcoming French presidency. It is such an agenda that the people of this country want to stand for. It is a tragedy that we do not have a Government who are prepared to speak for Britain, to say, Forget these institutional changes, and to adopt the agenda of which I have just spoken. The Governments approach is to muddle along, never challenging a conventional wisdom or a prevailing orthodoxy, striking a brave posture for The Sun or The Sunday Times and then shuffling off to Brussels to betray anything that they said that they would stand for.
There is also the possible fiascoI call it that for the moment, because I await further responses from the Governmentshown by the Iranian sanctions on Monday. The Government do not even have the excuse that their approach with other European nations is, when the Prime Minister comes out to speak, competent, efficient or effective. His Administration have had an undistinguished role in European affairs over the past year, conniving in every attempt to frustrate the people of Europes having their sayfrom breaking the commitment to a referendum in Britain to helping to bully other countries, such as Portugal, into not having one either. The Government have been caught out and exposed by one country, which has rightly consulted its own people.
Faced with the logical choice between abandoning the treaty and saying so and conniving in some way in getting the Irish to vote again, the Government are going along with what is necessary for the latter while denying that they are doing so rather than showing the merest sign of courage. It is a miserable spectacle which only adds to the sins of a now discredited Government. I believe that it will elevate our politics and our country when these Ministers are removed from office by the very British people whom they have been determined to ignore.
Mike Gapes (Ilford, South) (Lab/Co-op): It is always a pleasure to listen to the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague), even though I have heard many of the things that he said before. However, that does not mean that they are not still amusing.
I wish to begin by saying a few things about the reasons the Irish voted as they did. The commentator Tony Kinsella wrote an interesting piece the other dayhe is a strong advocate of the Lisbon treatyin which he referred to the Irish people retreating under their comfort blanket. He referred to the impact of globalisation, migration and other changes in the worldissues that were not specifically part of the Lisbon treaty.
For whatever reason, Ireland has voted and has rejected ratification of the treaty. Personally, I regret that because I believe that some important proposals in the Lisbon treaty would have made the EUs international presence and action more effective and would have been of benefit to member statesparticularly to some of the larger member states, including usand to co-operation with other international organisations.
the potential to encourage more coherent and effective foreign policy-making and representation
without in any way undermining the intergovernmental nature of common foreign and security policy or the UKs position in the United Nations. Given that, I suggest that as part of the process of considering the options following the Irish vote the Government should ensure that consideration is given to whether any elements of the Lisbon treatys foreign policy provisions could be put into effect by means other than treaty change, as long as that is done completely transparently and with full explanation to the public of the benefits of those relevant steps. It might be that those elements are few or that it will not be possible to do that, and I shall come on to the implications of that.
correct to argue that political positions and political will among the Member States are more important than institutional changes in determining the quality of EU foreign policy.
There are several cases where the EU has taken a coherent and effective position or has chosen not to do so for reasons that are entirely unconnected with its formal structures and are entirely to do with the political positions adopted by member states rather than the institutional framework. For example, both the Foreign Secretary and the shadow Foreign Secretary referred to what we are doing with regard to Iran. The EU effort, led by High Representative Solana and operating with the EU3or the EU3 plus 3, as it is now calledis defined according to the current treaty provisions and has been effective. That will continue regardless of whether the Lisbon treaty is ratified.
Russia has also been mentioned. The EU took 18 months to agree a common view on the opening up of the new partnership and co-operation agreement discussions with the Russians. Individual member statesPoland, Lithuania and our countryhad serious issues about relations with Russia and were able to stop effective EU progress. That will continue under the existing treaties.
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