I say this with great respect to the Foreign Secretary. I know that Tory Ministers arguing a pro-European cause are like a wagon train surrounded by hostiles, and that they therefore have to pitch a certain type of argument. My hon. Friend the Member for Ochil and South Perthshire (Ms Ahmed-Sheikh) observed that the Foreign Secretary had begun his speech by using the language of scepticism and suspicion to show that he was still a Eurosceptic at heart, despite his conversion to the “in” cause. An argument of that kind may be useful in fending off the hostiles, but it will not necessarily grip the attention of the bulk of voters who have to be convinced by the European argument. For the Labour party and ourselves, the achievements of social Europe are hugely important—the achievements that have come and those that still could be. For the Green party, ourselves and the Labour party, environmental issues are of huge moment. These are things that have to be decided—even more decided now—on that continental scale. On the arguments on refugees, those of us on the progressive side of politics want to see the country do more in terms of solidarity with the refugee crisis that has beset Europe, in addition to being positive and confident about Europe’s achievements—the peace that the right hon. Member for Mid Sussex spoke about; the prosperity of the single market; the achievements on workers’ rights which converted so many on the progressive side of politics in the ’80s and ’90s to the European cause. This argument cannot be presented as if it was

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just about the largest faction in the Conservative party; it has to be presented to command majority support across the country.

Mr Stewart Jackson (Peterborough) (Con): The right hon. Gentleman is making an eloquent speech, as ever, but may I ask a simple question: does he think left of centre voters across the UK and in Scotland really support a political construct that has inflicted penury on millions of people in southern Europe in pursuit of a discredited monetary policy driven essentially by Germany? Is he proud of that; is that socially progressive?

Alex Salmond: The hon. Gentleman allows me to say it is exactly the sort of area we want to debate, because we want to see a Europe that builds recovery, not, as he puts it, that enforces penury. That is exactly the sort of argument for why we want to change the focus of Europe in terms of how it achieves things.

Sir William Cash rose

Alex Salmond: If the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, I shall certainly give way to him slightly later.

I wanted to reflect on one point where I have particular experience and I think a bit of honesty is called for. I was the First Minister who lost a referendum and then resigned the next day. I did that because I do not think it is credible for a First Minister or Prime Minister to continue in office in these circumstances. I do not believe the Prime Minister—and I do not think probably the majority of his party and certainly of the country believes him—when he says he would sail on in office with a negative vote, to negotiate out of the EU, after telling people it was essential to the security and prosperity of the country, as he put it last week, for us to be in it.

There is evidence to suggest the Prime Minister has form on these matters. On 17 September 2014 he said in a statement that the question in the Scottish referendum was not about his future, but was about the future of Scotland and that he would continue regardless of the result, but by 28 September—11 days later—he confided to Scotland on Sunday the following:

“If the vote had been for Scotland to have left the UK, I genuinely would have been heartbroken. I would have felt winded and wounded. Emotionally, one would have thought, ‘I’m so saddened by this. I find it difficult to go on’.”

By “difficult to go on” I think he meant in office rather than anything more substantial.

That attitude has been confirmed by a number of sources since. I suspect that the idea that a Prime Minister could continue in office having lost such a vote is, to coin a phrase, “for the birds”, which is exactly why the hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson) is right in one bit of his apparent calculation: that an opening would allow a new Prime Minister, as then he puts it, to negotiate our way back into some sort of European construct on better terms. The second half of that probably is “for the birds”, but at least in the first half about a vacancy being available the hon. Gentleman’s calculation may be right. I think the Prime Minister should own up, because I think his current position lacks some degree of credibility.

The nature of this debate is already having big impacts on politics. Earlier this week, while people in this place were understandably fixed on the contest between the

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hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip and the Prime Minister in the European debate, there was the settlement of the Scottish financial position. Huge tribute should be paid to the First Minister of Scotland and the Deputy First Minister, and indeed to those on all sides of the negotiating team, on bringing that settlement about. But I wondered about the rapid change in position that was taking place, where only a couple of weeks ago the Treasury position was to arrange a £7 billion reduction from Scotland’s finances, which became last week £3.5 billion, £2.5 billion earlier this week, and then ended up at zero by Tuesday afternoon. I am prepared to suggest that one reason why that change of heart may well have come about is that if it had not come about—


The Foreign Secretary says there was no change: believe me, the dogs in the street in Scotland know there was a substantial change over the last few weeks, and one reason why it may have come about, I suspect, is that if the Prime Minister was in the position of not being able to deliver his pre-referendum promises or vows to Scotland, he would perhaps find it difficult to sustain the argument that 27 other European leaders might be delivering their pre-referendum vows to him. We are already seeing aspects of this debate having a very substantial influence on politics.

I asked the Foreign Secretary earlier about the circumstances that would arise if the vote went for out and when article 50 would be invoked, and I have been reading the Library paper in preparation on exactly that issue. The Library paper suggests that the likely formulation would be that there would be a vote in this Chamber before the Government invoked the position, but the Government could say it was an Executive decision and just go ahead anyway. What it then goes on to argue is of great importance.

Mr Philip Hammond: I wish to clarify something. I answered the right hon. Gentleman on this point earlier, but I have taken advice since. It is the Government’s position that if the electorate give a clear decision in this referendum to leave, the Government will proceed to serve an article 50 notice; there will be no need for a further process in this House.

Alex Salmond: The Foreign Secretary says now, “No debate, no decision in the House”—right, fine. And I think that could be defended on the basis that it would be a brave person who took the position that the electorate had voted in a referendum and would attempt to gainsay it. But what I was going on to say to the Foreign Secretary is that perhaps he should pay some attention to what is in the Library paper, which goes on to put the position of what might be happening in the devolved legislatures. It says:

“As noted above, the competences of devolved legislatures and executives are circumscribed by EU law, and some positive responsibilities are placed upon the executives to implement that law. An argument could be made that the removal of these features on leaving the EU would prima facie alter devolved competence, and, insofar as it involved UK legislation, would require legislative consent from the devolved legislatures under the Sewel Convention.”

Emma Reynolds: I would be interested to know what case the right hon. Gentleman’s party will make in Scotland in favour of our membership of the EU; which does he think are the most powerful arguments that he will be deploying in this campaign?

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Alex Salmond: They are the ones I made at the start of my speech in suggesting that the debate should be focused on the importance of Europe in terms of social policy, the environment, why we should have solidarity in terms of refugees, and the achievements of Europe in keeping the peace in Europe, ensuring prosperity and workers’ rights. These are the arguments we are going to focus on.

It is important to pursue the end of my current point, however. The Foreign Secretary has just said no further process or vote in this Parliament would be necessary for the Government to invoke article 50, because what Parliament would gainsay a referendum vote across the UK? But in the possible circumstance that Scotland has just voted in favour while the UK has voted against, what self-respecting Scottish Parliament, having a vote, as is indicated through the Sewel convention procedure, would not vote in the way the Scottish people had voted in such a referendum, by exactly the same argument?

Mr Jenkin: Even if Scotland were to vote to leave the EU, the case the right hon. Gentleman is making for proper consultation and a proper constitutional process would be just as powerful. Does he agree that whatever the outcome of the referendum, the Government remain answerable to Parliament and they should not proceed to any precipitate or even self-harming action, which a precipitate move to article 50 might be, unless they have consulted Parliament and gained its consent for the next steps? In my view, that might require some discussion with all our European partners and consultation with other parts of the United Kingdom.

Alex Salmond: I was pointing out that if the Government’s position that such a process would not be necessary because there had been a referendum vote, where does that leave the Scottish Parliament, if, under the conventions I have cited from the Library document, it was to have a parliamentary vote, having had a positive popular vote—a yes, an “in” vote—for Europe, using exactly the same argument as the Foreign Secretary now deploys to announce the democratic short-circuiting of parliamentary convention? The Foreign Secretary should think through the implications of this argument.

Someone else has thought through those implications. This is another first for me as having agreed with the right hon. Member for Mid Sussex (Sir Nicholas Soames) for the first time in 30 years, more or less, I now find myself agreeing with the former Prime Minister Tony Blair for just about the first time—certainly for the first time in the past 10 to 15 years. He made the following comment in a French radio interview—we hope the translation is good:

“In my opinion…if the United Kingdom votes to leave Europe, Scotland will vote to leave the United Kingdom.”

As I say, for once I think the former Prime Minister has put his finger on the heart of it.

The First Minister of Scotland has also alluded to these possibilities and she is well justified in doing so, because during the referendum campaign of 2014 one of the arguments made by the no side was that we would jeopardise our position in the European Union if Scotland voted yes. That sounds ironic now, given the process we are going through, but none the less that was one of the key arguments. Secondly, she is justified because during last year’s general election, she described

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exactly these circumstances as being a change in material circumstances which would justify another referendum and she then received a mandate of 56 out of the 59 seats in the House of Commons from Scotland. When the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn), from the Labour Benches, says that we will vote as one United Kingdom and dismisses this point as if it was of very little consequence, he should remember that it is exactly that attitude which resulted in the Labour party not only being part of one United Kingdom, but having only one Member from Scotland to represent it in that United Kingdom.

The arguments I have made about Scotland could also be applied to Wales. Certainly, the Welsh opinion polls show a much less clearcut position on the European issue. This Library note also points out that in 2011 the people of Wales voted in a referendum massively for part of a referendum settlement that included the instruction that members of the Welsh Executive were to be compliant with EU law. They already have a pre-existing referendum mandate which could embrace parts of the European cause.

In summary, I would say two things to the Government in this campaign. First, they should recognise that in order to build an “in” majority, which is the objective, there will have to be a great deal more reflection and emphasis on the arguments that are likely to inspire support from a range of political opinion, as opposed to arguments that will fend off the remaining Eurosceptics who have decided to vote no. Secondly, in particular, the Government should have a great deal more sensitivity to that range of arguments than has been displayed thus far. In the space of the past week, since the referendum was announced, the Prime Minister has disregarded the Leader of the Opposition, and the views of the First Ministers of Wales and Scotland on the timing of the referendum. That is not an auspicious start in having the sort of broad campaign that can result in victory.

Mr Nigel Evans: I find it interesting—fascinating, almost—that the right hon. Gentleman wants to have a veto for Scotland over Brexit yet is very happy for Scotland to be part of a European Union where we have qualified majority voting and the vote can go against our interests time and time again. That really does happen, so how can he marry the two?

Alex Salmond: I can do it in a number of ways, one of which I shall now describe. Independent countries in Europe that are outside the euro area control 99% of their taxation base—everything except the VAT contribution. The figure for Scotland within the United Kingdom will be 25%, even after—if it is implemented—this week’s settlement. I regard 25% control of the tax base as not being independence in any meaningful sense, whereas I regard 99% control as meaningful independence and therefore worth the sacrifice in sovereignty that is inevitably made to achieve objectives such as peace, environmental protection and having solidarity when we face a continental crisis. That, in essence, is the difference between a country being independent in the European Union and being a devolved entity within this United Kingdom.

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I hope that the arguments we put forward in this campaign will reflect the complexities of the coalition which is going to be required and which will have to extend far beyond the ranks of the Conservative party if we are to have a resounding in majority come June and the referendum.

2.6 pm

Sir William Cash (Stone) (Con): It is a great pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Sussex (Sir Nicholas Soames), because both of them have sought and achieved a level of debate that this subject certainly deserves. I wish to say something to my right hon. Friend, and I am sure he would agree with me on this. As he knows, I have utter admiration for his grandfather, being one who was born on 10 May 1940, when he assumed the prime ministership of this country and when Hitler invaded Holland and France. However, many of Sir Winston Churchill’s pronouncements on the issue of Europe changed as time progressed. In particular, he said at one point, much later than 1948, that we should be “associated but not absorbed”. The movements that were taking place and which were apparent to Sir Anthony Eden and to others in the late 1940s and early 1950s did have a significant impact on the thinking of our great, great former Prime Minister Sir Winston himself. In saying that we should be associated but not absorbed, he had understood that there were movements afoot that were not in the interests of the United Kingdom.

Sir Winston also said that we should tell the truth to the British people. He went on to make it clear that what he meant by that was that the British people will follow you if you tell them that truth. Sadly, I believe that what has been happening in the recent months, and in the whole of this debate, is just as I indicated in my response to the Prime Minister’s statement on 3 February, when I said that he was bypassing not only his promises, but his principles. I also said that I thought there was a problem with this expression “legally binding and irreversible” and with the stitch-up, as I put it, with respect to the political decision that I anticipated would be taken in a few days’ time and which of course was taken on 10 February. I thought this expression “legally binding and irreversible” would lead on 23 June, which has turned out to be the referendum date, to something on which the voters would not be able to rely. It is strong words to say that I believe the voter is already being cheated in this respect.

I say that for this reason, and with prudence and with care: right at the heart of this is voters’ trust. I also said that on 3 February. The truth is that, for all the arguments that have developed over these words “legally binding and irreversible”, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary very carefully avoided using the word “irreversible”. He mentioned “legally binding”. Indeed, the conclusions to the summit on 17 to 18 February specifically referred to “legally binding” and specifically did not refer to the word “irreversible”. There is a good reason for that, as we have said on numerous occasions in the European Scrutiny Committee. We have said it in our reports recently and in our cross-examination of the Foreign Secretary the other day. This is all about voter trust.

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Let us take as an example the removal of the words “ever-closer union” in respect of the United Kingdom. As I had to point out to the Foreign Secretary, that is not in the preamble; it is in article 1 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Therefore, any removal requires treaty change, but we are not being given treaty change. We are relying on an international agreement. I will not say that such an agreement does not have a certain legal character, but it does not bind the European Court of Justice. It does not guarantee that other member states may veto any treaty change that might follow. It also does not guarantee what the European Court of Justice may say about it. It does not take into account the fact that other states will be holding referendums on this subject, of which Ireland is one such example, the outcome of which cannot possibly be predicted—not as said by a Member of Parliament on the “Today” programme yesterday.

Mr Jackson: Like many Conservative Members of Parliament, we wished the Prime Minister well as he went forward with negotiations. Obviously, we are very disappointed with the gossamer-thin substance of the agreement with which he came back a week or so ago. Is not the offence compounded by the fact that we were led to believe in the Bloomberg speech in January 2013 that we were looking at a fundamental renegotiation of our relationship with the European Union, and that clearly and sadly has not happened?

Sir William Cash: I totally agree with my hon. Friend. In fact, I made that very point on 3 February in my response to the Prime Minister’s statement. The Prime Minister also said that our democracy in our Westminster Parliament was the root of our freedom of choice—that was the essence of what he was saying. I also have fears about the framework of this agreement and the developments by successive Governments in successive treaties. For example, I voted yes in 1975. While I pursued the Government and harried them over the Maastricht rebellion, the situation changed dramatically when the Maastricht treaty was brought into being.

Alex Salmond: I know that some of the hon. Gentleman’s colleagues are less surprised than I am, but am I right in hearing that he voted yes in 1975? What measure of responsibility does he take for all that has happened since?

Sir William Cash: Very little. As I have said, these were decisions that were taken in 1972 on the basis of a White Paper, which said that we would always retain a veto. That is the difference. In fact, it has been whittled away by successive Governments and I have opposed them from the moment that I saw the Maastricht treaty to the present day, as the right hon. Gentleman knows only too well.

I want to go back to this problem of voter trust. The current Eurobarometer poll suggests a minus 60 factor in trust throughout the whole of Europe. Only 43% turn out in the European parliamentary elections. There is no connection between the citizen and the European Union. This is not about Europe. Many of us on the Conservative Benches love Europe. As someone who has two Spanish grandsons, one Spanish granddaughter, a Greek granddaughter, a daughter born in France, and a son once married to an Italian, I simply say that we do

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not have to be anti-European to be pro-democracy. That is a very powerful and important point for us all to bear in mind.

I am deeply worried about this refusal to engage with this word “irreversible.” It cannot be guaranteed. It is like buying a shiny second-hand car on a post-dated cheque with a dud guarantee. That is what we are being offered on 23 June. Unless the voter knows that they are actually going to get what the Foreign Secretary described as the “whole package”, and that they can be guaranteed that it will be given and that it will come into effect, they have no reason to have any confidence in answering the question of whether to remain in Europe or to leave. That is a severe indictment, which is why I say that the Government are effectively cheating the voter on that day.

There is also the issue about the democracy of this country. We agreed in our vote in 1972, and in subsequent accession treaties and other treaties that were added into the European Communities Act 1972, that we would voluntarily accept this as a diminution of our sovereignty in the sense that it was being put through the parliamentary system. The other day, the Prime Minister referred to an illusion of sovereignty. I do not wish to elaborate on that other than to say that it is not an illusion. Sovereignty is about the right of the people to choose, in general elections, the kind of laws under which they wish to be governed. In this House of Commons, it is not illusion. It is a fact as well as being a question of jurisprudence. That is why it is so important. People fought and died—as my own father died in the last war—fighting for the right of the British people to resist tyranny. It is a great mistake to talk about sovereignty in terms of an illusion.

There is also the question of how much influence we actually have in the European Union. I could give some further description of the voting system, but much of what happens is decided in smoke-filled rooms and not by voting itself.

2.18 pm

Mr Pat McFadden (Wolverhampton South East) (Lab): Let me begin by saying that, while I have enjoyed all the speeches so far in today’s debate, I pay particular tribute to the right hon. Member for Mid Sussex (Sir Nicholas Soames) for a most moving speech, which I think the whole House found pleasure in hearing.

The first week of this referendum campaign has been dominated by the positioning of members of the Cabinet and the more Godly members of the Conservative party. It is of course of interest—we are in politics so we know that it is of interest—when a political party is divided. The first point that I want to make today is that, however interesting that may be, this referendum and the decision facing the country are far more important than the position of any individual politician, the share price of any individual politician, the career ambitions of any individual politician, or indeed divisions within any single political party. It is about the future of the country. The question on the ballot paper, of course, is whether we remain in or leave the European Union, but beneath that question lie layer upon layer of fundamental issues. It is to a few of those that I shall address my remarks.

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The first is the tone in which this referendum campaign is conducted. I am clearly in favour of the UK remaining in, but I want also to understand the impulse of some of those who want to take us out. I speak not principally of the leading and familiar advocates of Euroscepticism in this House, but of my constituents and many of the constituents of other Members who have concerns about this. It is important for those of us who want the UK to remain in to acknowledge the sense of loss about the changes wrought by globalisation that have made many people feel that they do not have a stake in the country’s story. It is important to acknowledge with respect that sense of loss.

Another issue underlying the question on the ballot paper is our economic and trading position. I will not go through the statistics, but we are part of a single market of 500 million people. It is the main destination for our exports. That is a big reason why as a country we are successful in attracting inward investment from both inside and outside the European Union. I believe in a UK economy that champions the activity of making things, as well as our great services. Let us consider one product, for example—a Ford car. These days such a car is likely to have its engine made here in the UK, but the rest of the car made elsewhere in the European Union—one product that contains both imports and exports. This is how modern manufacturing works. It is a supply chain and a product brought together across different borders in the European Union, with no tariffs, according to a single set of rules.

Nigel Adams (Selby and Ainsty) (Con): I am pleased that the right hon. Gentleman has brought up the issue of trade. Given that the economic powerhouse, Iceland, has managed to negotiate a free trade deal with the world’s second largest economy, does he not share my confidence in Great Britain’s ability to negotiate free trade deals with growing economies around the world?

Mr McFadden: I have looked at some of the trade agreements negotiated between individual countries and China, and I recommend that the hon. Gentleman does too. Those trade agreements often allow complete and free access for the Chinese end of the operation, with severely limited and tariff-imposed access for the smaller country, so I disagree with the view that we should have a choice between trading with the rest of the world and trading with the EU. We should do both.

Sir William Cash: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr McFadden: Given the time limit, I shall make progress, if I may.

Another issue underlying the question on the ballot paper, and to which my right hon. Friend the shadow Foreign Secretary referred, is that of employment rights. The EU is not just a trading relationship or a market. There is a social Europe aspect. Six million workers in the UK have gained new or enhanced rights to paid holidays. Around 400,000 part-time workers, most of them women and many of them low-paid, gained improved pay and conditions when equal treatment rights were introduced. I repeat the point I made in my question to

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my right hon. Friend. When people attack red tape and bureaucracy from the EU, it is very often those things that they mean—the right to decency at work. As my right hon. Friend said, parents’ right to enjoy time with their newborn baby is not needless bureaucracy. This is part of a decent, civilised economy. That, too, is on the ballot paper when the issue is debated.

Then I come to the question raised most eloquently by the right hon. Member for Mid Sussex—the question of security. I will not repeat in a less eloquent manner the argument that he made. We ignore at our peril the achievements of peace that the European Union has helped to guarantee. This is an argument not just of interests, but of values. We should not underestimate the importance of resolving conflicts peacefully and of common commitments to democracy, human rights and respect for one another’s borders. Compare those with the way that conflicts in Europe were resolved before the European Union was in place. Of course, the European Union is not perfect. I have served on the Council of Ministers and the patience even of a pro-European like me can be tested by several hours in the Social Affairs Council, with the headphones on, but I always stopped to check myself and say however frustrating this might be, compared with the way that decisions used to be reached or conflicts used to be resolved in Europe, it is a great improvement.

On security, we have to ask ourselves who outside the European Union would be pleased to see a British exit or pleased to see a wider break-up of the European Union. The answer most clearly is President Putin. No one would be more pleased than him to see our security compromised in that way.

Mark Pritchard: The right hon. Gentleman is right to suggest who would benefit from a UK exit from the European Union. It would, of course, be Russia, but does he agree that Russia would also benefit from Scotland breaking away from the United Kingdom?

Mr McFadden: I will come to Scotland shortly.

I want to quote General Sir Peter Wall, the former Chief of the Army General Staff, who said on the BBC last year:

“Unlike the Cold War when things were more binary . . . in a modern interconnected world it’s not just the defence capability that is going to be fundamental to our security. It’s going to be a number of other issues too.”

In today’s world, security is a combination of hard power and soft power, so when we speak of security in the European Union, we are not talking about a European army. We are talking about the values associated with being a member. Anyone who doubts their importance should talk to the members that live close to Russia’s border. They will confirm that being part of the EU is important to their security.

The hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mark Pritchard) asked me about Scotland. As we have heard already in the debate today and in comments in recent days, the integrity of the United Kingdom is also on the ballot paper when we cast our vote. That is clear. It seems to me a great pity that those who profess to be the most committed to the United Kingdom are cavalier about the future unity of the country, which is at stake through the referendum.

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Whatever the actual words on the ballot paper, I believe that underlying them are fundamental issues for us. Perhaps the most important of all is what kind of country we are going to be. The easiest thing in the world is to look at some of the issues that we see on our television screens—the flow of refugees, the economic problems that have afflicted Europe in recent years—and to conclude that the best thing we could do is to walk away, pull up the drawbridge and say it is all too difficult. Though an answer that might be, I do not believe that it is leadership. In the end, this is a question of leadership, and that is why I believe the most important response to those issues is to resolve to play a full part with our partners and allies in facing up to them. That is why I want to see us remain in the European Union and to see the UK continue as an outward-looking, open, confident, engaged player in the world.

2.29 pm

Mr Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden), who made a very thoughtful contribution. In response to his comment about Britain walking away from Europe, let me say that clearly the United Kingdom will never do that, simply because of our geography. Also, we will reach out to the rest of the world. We talk about migration, and clearly we are not going to walk away from our responsibilities in that regard. As a member of the International Development Committee, I am delighted that we are now spending 0.7% of our GDP on international development, much of which is going to Syria and to help with the refugee crisis.

In many ways I feel sorry for the British electorate. I am glad that they will get a vote, because that is important from a democratic point of view—we are talking about something huge here—but at the same time they are going to have to pick out what is true and what is not. Over the next few months they will hear a lot of propaganda, and from both sides of the argument, whether from those who wish to leave the European Union, such as myself, about how wonderful it will be, and they will have to work out how much truth there is in that—I genuinely believe it—or from those who want to remain. They are using all sorts of arguments to promote their cause, including saying, “It’s going to be Armageddon the next day, if not worse.” Clearly that is not true either. As the Prime Minister said on Monday, we are a great country, and we will remain a great country whether we leave the European Union or not.

I am delighted that the Prime Minister has given the British people an opportunity to vote, because I think that their not having such an opportunity has been one of the great denials of democracy. I have been an MP for 23 years, and I remember sitting on the Opposition Back Benches when Tony Blair explained to the House from the Dispatch Box that the Lisbon treaty had been changed and was a dramatically different document and that therefore the British people would not get a referendum, despite having been promised one.

Jim Dowd: First, the only party that has ever given the British people a choice in a referendum on our membership of the European Union, or the EEC as it was at the time, is the Labour party. Secondly, the promise

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to which the hon. Gentleman refers was on the EU constitution, not the Lisbon treaty; it was an entirely different issue.

Mr Evans: I looked at both documents, and the funny thing is that about 98% of it was the same; they cut and pasted it and it was virtually the same document. I was a member of the Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe at the time, and I remember European Commission officials telling us, “Don’t worry; it’s virtually the same document.” They had one message for the people of the United Kingdom and a completely different one for the European Union.

Mr Baker: It was a think-tank—possibly Open Europe—that made available a consolidated version so that one could see, by putting the documents side by side, that there were no substantive differences. The only purpose of that treaty was to get it through without asking the people whether they wanted it, and that, I am unashamed to say, was the trigger that brought me here.

Mr Evans: If Tony Blair thought that he was doing this project any favours by denying the British people a referendum, he was greatly mistaken. I think that the reason he withdrew the promise of a referendum was that he thought the British people would vote no. Ireland regularly has referendums on treaties, and they sometimes have a second one, but normally after another discussion with the European Union in which they change parts of the treaty to make it more favourable to Ireland. Had we voted no to the Lisbon treaty, I suspect that there might have been a different project for the United Kingdom in—a third way, to use Tony Blair’s favourite phrase—in a more associative relationship with the European Union, based more on trade than on the political entity that we know a number of European Union leaders want. I think that Tony Blair did this project no favours whatsoever.

I will vote to leave the European Union because I love my country, but I respect those who will vote to remain, because they love their country too; both sides believe that they are acting for the betterment of their country. My grandfather fought in the first world war and my father fought in the second world war, and they did so to give democratic rights to countries within Europe, and indeed across the rest of the world. Devolution is a keystone of British policy, bringing power closer to the people, but I believe that the leading elites of Europe might as well be from another planet. Most normal people in this country, and indeed across the rest of Europe, cannot name a single member of the Commission. We have scores of these faceless governing elites, many of them on salaries way above the Prime Minister’s.

That reminds me of this great red card that we have been told will allow us to stop legislation we do not like, so long as we join together within another 14 countries to block it. The idea was ridiculed by William Hague in this Chamber when it was first suggested. Even if the legislation we were trying to block proposed the murder of the first born, he argued, we would be unlikely to get 14 other countries to come together in the timescale that we would be given. Remember what happened—this is a measure of how influential we are in the rest of Europe—when we tried to stop Juncker becoming President. We went on a great salesmanship deal throughout the

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rest of the European Union, and how many countries did we get to support us? The answer is one—Hungary—out of 27.

Mr McFadden: I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has raised the Government’s failed attempt to stop Mr Juncker. That was not because the European Union is some evil organisation; it was because the Government were completely useless at finding allies. When Labour were in government, we made a similar effort to stop a candidate and we were successful. The answer is to make friends and do the job better.

Mr Evans: I think that the answer is for us to have a veto on things we do not like. That is what sovereignty is all about. When I fight a general election, I want to be able to deliver what is in my party’s manifesto. I raised earlier the issue of child benefit going to youngsters who have never set foot in the United Kingdom. One of our manifesto promises was to stop that, but now we are told that we cannot do that. That is the nub of the problem; we are putting promises in a manifesto that we cannot deliver because the European Union will not let us.

Peter Kyle (Hove) (Lab): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr Evans: I will not, because there is no more injury time.

This is all about sovereignty. We talk about the illusion of sovereignty. Well, if anyone wants to see it, they should come to the Palace of Westminster. If we cannot deliver the promises that we put in our own manifesto because a governing elite somewhere else will not let us, that is the illusion of sovereignty here in Westminster.

Emma Reynolds: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr Evans: I will not.

It is exactly the same for the abolition of VAT on sanitary towels. It should be something we decide at Westminster. It should have nothing to do with the European Union whatsoever. I believe that if my constituents vote for me and then they do not like what my party has done in government after five years, they can get rid of us so that the laws can be changed. That does not happen at the moment, and that is one of the reasons why I wish to leave the European Union. We talk about a seven-year brake. Would anybody buy a car when they had to get permission from somebody else to use the brake and when the brake was going to go after seven years? We would have to be bonkers to buy a car like that.

Trade is mentioned time and time again. Will hon. Members please read the House of Commons paper that was mentioned? It shows that the deficit in goods and services with the European Union is huge—with Germany alone, it is more than £27 billion. I assume that Mercedes will be the first to knock on Angela Merkel’s door if Britain decides to leave, and it will say, “Don’t you dare meddle with the trade agreements the United Kingdom wants with the European Union.” Of course, we are also members of the World Trade

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Organisation, which will give us protection. I simply do not believe that the other countries of the European Union are vindictive and spiteful and that they would want to cut their noses off to spite their faces; indeed, if they were, would these be the sort of people we wanted to associate with?

Security is mentioned time and time again, and this issue does worry me. More than 1 million people have come into the European Union over the last 12 months. It is predicted that, by 2020, 3.6 million people will have entered Germany alone. Even now, the chief of Europol estimates that 5,000 jihadists have managed to enter. At what stage will Germany give passports to the people who have arrived there, and where will those people go? Many of them will come to the United Kingdom; they will have German passports, and there will be little we can do to stop them. That worries me.

Sadly, I do not think the people of Paris—whether at Charlie Hebdo or the nightclub that was attacked—felt any safer last year because they were in the European Union. That is not security. I want us to secure our own borders. That will allow us to have the power to control who comes into the United Kingdom. As the razor wire goes up all over Europe, let us take this once-in-a-lifetime chance to take back control, put the security of our people first and put power back in the hands of the British people.

It is the British people I would like to end with. We have not had a referendum on this issue since 1975. The Foreign Secretary told us there will be no second referendum, and I believe him. This will be the only opportunity we get in my lifetime to take back control, to leave the European Union and, while still trading with it, to return sovereignty to this country. I hope the people of Britain will take that chance on freedom day.

2.41 pm

Jim Dowd (Lewisham West and Penge) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr Evans). Very little of what he said did I agree with, but I appreciate the way he presented it.

Like some Members around the Chamber, the hon. Gentleman will remember the late Eric Forth, who was the MP for Bromley and Chislehurst—he was a fellow Member for part of the London borough of Bromley. Very little did I agree with him politically, either, but he once said in this Chamber that when those on the two Front Benches agree with each other, we should start counting the spoons. That is a reasonable idea. However, when not just those on the two Front Benches but the leader of the third largest party agree with each other, we need to be very careful in our assessment of what is going on: they might be right, but we have to open ourselves up to the idea that they might not be. Once there is a consensus on these things, it becomes almost unforgiveable to deviate from it.

I do not normally take part in European affairs debates, because they have had a tendency in the past to become almost theological in their content and in the way they are conducted. However, I want to make a few observations. I was one of a small minority of Labour Members who were always in favour of a referendum; indeed, before the last election, I joined a group called Labour for a Referendum. I was in a minority among the members of Labour for a Referendum in so far as I

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did not join that group on the basis of a fixed position of wanting to get out of the European Union. However, I came to a conclusion some years ago—one Conservative Member mentioned this—that things had changed so much in the years since the last referendum that it was time the British people were consulted again on this issue. That is the only way to achieve any kind of lasting settlement.

Others in my party mistakenly resisted the idea, even though the Prime Minister brought forward a Bill in 2013 to make provision for a referendum. What happened in 2013 and what Harold Wilson did in 1975 were almost identical: 1975 was a device for trying to prevent the Labour party from splitting asunder, and 2013 served exactly the same purpose, but for the Conservative party.

Many Labour Members resisted the referendum. They said, quite rightly, that the period before it would create uncertainty. As others have said, uncertainty is bad for business—one need only look at the performance of the pound on the international exchange markets this week. I think foreign exchange traders must be somewhat nervous creatures, because the fact of the referendum has now been around for four years, and it was obvious that it would take place once the current Government won the last election. It was there for all to see that there would be a referendum sometime before the end of 2017.

Mr Jackson: I am sure the international finance community will be heartened by the hon. Gentleman’s solicitude about the operation of the international markets. On a serious point, does he agree that there is a gap in the market for the decent, patriotic, thoughtful Labour voters who are Eurosceptic and believe that our future lies outside the European Union as a global trading nation? Those people are being let down by their own Front Benchers, who are, in effect, ignoring those views.

Jim Dowd: If I have time, I shall come on to that, but I broadly agree with the hon. Gentleman’s point, because it does have validity right across the argument. As the hon. Member for Ribble Valley said, there are those who say they love their country and want to vote out and those who say they love their country and want to stay in. We have to give due regard to everybody’s position.

The other failure of leadership was not so much on the business considerations but came from those who said that the British public might come to the wrong conclusion, so the only way to protect against that was not to allow them the choice in the first place. That was a mistake. I am not saying it is the only reason the Labour party did not win the general election last year, but it would not have been an incentive for people to vote for Labour that we were standing against the referendum while the Conservatives were standing in favour of it.

Along with my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden) and the Minister for Europe, I served on the Committee on the original Wharton Bill, as it was known at the time. Everybody knows that it was not the Bill of the hon. Member for Stockton South (James Wharton) but No. 10’s Bill, and it was given to him when he drew the No. 1 position in the private Members’ Bill ballot. A very entertaining and illuminating experience it was, too.

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I remember the hon. Member for Stockton South standing up at the start of the proceedings and introducing the programme motion, quite properly as the promoter of the Bill, then sitting down and for the next five weeks not saying a word until we concluded our proceedings and he indulged in the usual civilities that we have at the end of every Committee stage to thank everybody for taking part.

The Minister for Europe was by far the most active person on the whole Committee, although I think my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton South East was the more convincing. The whole thing was a pantomime designed to save the Tory party from itself—or at least part of itself. The parallel I drew between Harold Wilson’s manoeuvrings in 1975 and those of the current Prime Minister works to some degree, but unfortunately Harold Wilson only kept the Labour party together for less than a decade, and then it split over this very issue.

I actually voted no in 1975. Conservative Members have been saying that they voted yes and Labour Members have been saying that we voted no, and I think for probably the same reasons—what we expected and wanted the then EEC, now the EU, to become. I am less inclined to vote no this time, although I am not entirely certain, because I have many concerns about how the EU operates. Strangely enough, I agree with the Mayor of London, the hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson) in this regard: I think that Britain can have a future outside the European Union. I just do not think it is the optimal future for the British people. Where I disagree entirely with him is on the risible and laughable idea that we can vote no today so that we can vote yes tomorrow. That is completely bizarre and untenable. I admire the attempt by the hon. Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin) to breathe life into the idea of a second vote by saying that the Government should not respond immediately to the result of a negative vote, but there will not be a second vote under any circumstances and we should have the courage to face up to that.

Mark Pritchard: My hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson) also wrote recently that the British people are always right, and I agree with him. Does the hon. Gentleman agree with me and the Mayor of London that, whatever the result—in or out—the British people will be right, and all of us, whatever school of thought we might hold to today, need to respect that?

Jim Dowd: I would not take such an absolutist view. The British people may or may not be right—that is a matter for a higher judgment—but, as a democrat, I believe that, whatever they vote for, it is incumbent on the Government and Parliament to abide by it. If in later years we discover that it was all a great mistake, well, c’est la vie. I cannot help feeling that the calculations of the hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip have more to do with the succession to the Tory leadership than with the best interests of this country or of Europe.

Martin Docherty-Hughes (West Dunbartonshire) (SNP): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Jim Dowd: No, I am in my own time now.

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I do not think that the deal that the Prime Minister came back with will be the key determinant of this argument. Rather, it is going to be about people’s overall impression of the EU and of Britain’s place in Europe and its family of nations. It will also be about the merits of the rival advocates, as well as of their arguments, as we attempt to clear the fog of claim and counterclaim. We currently have the strange spectacle of the Secretary of State for Justice being in open dispute with the Attorney General over the legal status of the agreement that the Prime Minister brought back over the weekend. That argument has been rehearsed again this afternoon, and I am sure it will complicate the issue for the next four months. Incidentally, I think the British people, rightly or wrongly, will be heartily sick of the whole discussion by the time we get to 23 June.

The hon. Member for Ribble Valley said that this is the first chance he has had in his life to vote on this issue. This will be my second chance, if I survive to 23 June, which I sincerely hope I do, although I am sure that view is not universally held. It is such a critical issue for the future of this nation, and for our neighbours and friends, that we have to take it seriously. We cannot let it degenerate into an argument between two groups of zealots—the loonies, fruitcakes and closet racists on the one hand, and the self-satisfied political elite of the status quo in Europe on the other.

Finally, as others have said, we should have regard to the impact that the vote will have on the whole of these islands. If there is a negative vote, it will have an impact on parts of the UK and a direct impact—I am certain it would be a negative impact—on relations with the Republic of Ireland. There are various complicated and practical reasons for that. Given all the progress we have made in recent years, that is not a risk worth taking.

Several hon. Members rose

Madam Deputy Speaker (Natascha Engel): Order. Before I call the next speaker, Members have been taking full advantage of interventions and we are therefore running rather late, so I am going to have to reduce the limit to eight minutes. If Members continue to be so generous in taking interventions, I will have to reduce it further.

2.53 pm

Mr Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex) (Con): I am most grateful for your advice, Madam Deputy Speaker, and I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Lewisham West and Penge (Jim Dowd).

I beg a little indulgence for a moment. It is highly irresponsible to bring in the Northern Ireland peace process as yet another scare against voting leave in the referendum. There was an open border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland when Ireland was not a member of the European Union and we were, and perfectly reasonable arrangements will be made with the Republic of Ireland if the United Kingdom votes to leave the EU. There are participants in the peace process on both sides of the debate, and they are talking perfectly constructively together. They will not allow this to become an obstruction to peace in Northern Ireland, and nor should we talk it up, because I think that that would be irresponsible.

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I want to make the point that I am not advocating a second vote. If we get a vote leave in this referendum, as I expect we will, that will do for me. The point I am making is that article 50 is a provision of the treaties that we will have just rejected. The idea that we are bound to follow the article 50 provisions after we have just rejected the treaties in their entirety seems a bit odd. Given that the treaties were created by 28 member states negotiating together, 28 member states negotiating together to rescind our membership of the European Union might be a more sensible approach. However, that should be decided by Parliament, not by the Government acting on Crown prerogative in an act of petty vengeance to scare people.

Peter Kyle: The hon. Gentleman is saying that once we say no to the EU, we will tear the whole thing up and do it all on our terms, but he expects there to be a cordial relationship afterwards while we renegotiate on terms that are favourable to us. Are not those two things completely and utterly incompatible?

Mr Jenkin: Let me put it another way to the hon. Gentleman. Is he seriously suggesting that after the British people have rejected the treaty on the functioning of the European Union and the treaty on European Union, our European partners are going to say, “You may have rejected all that, but you are bound by this”? That is ridiculous. It is absurd. It is far more likely that Parliament will want to discuss the matter, the Government will produce a proper White Paper and we will proceed in an orderly and consensual manner, not in a precipitate one. The only reason those in favour of remaining are raising this is to try to scare people. It is another scare story, and we are not having it.

The hon. Member for Lewisham West and Penge also talked about uncertainty. May I point out to him that every time we have a general election, there is a certain amount of uncertainty? My goodness, at the next general election, if there is any possibility of the Labour party being elected, boy, there will be uncertainty! There will be uncertainty in the markets, and there will be pound gyrations. Democracy is about uncertainty, but we get more uncertainty where there is no democracy: look at Greece; look at Spain; look at the eurozone. That is uncertainty, and it is the uncertainty that we want to get out of.

If we vote leave, we know what will happen. We will get our powers back. We will get control over our borders. We will be able to spend the money that we send to the European Union as we want to spend it, instead of subsidising our European competitors. Three hundred and fifty million pounds a week, or a net contribution of £10 billion a year—that is a lot of money. We will be able to pay for the roads in Scotland. We will be able to pay for universities. We will be able to pay for the investment in science and research that we need, and then some.

The real question in the debate is what happens if we vote remain. What new laws will be imposed on us after we vote remain? What judgments will the European Court of Justice visit upon us over which we have no control? What about the next treaty? We know that there will be another fiscal union treaty like the one that the Prime Minister vetoed a few years ago. The agreement states:

“Member States whose currency is not the euro shall not impede the implementation of legal acts directly linked to the

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functioning of the euro area and shall refrain from measures which could jeopardise the attainment of the objectives of economic and monetary union.”

It sounds as though we are giving up that veto. We will not be able to veto a fiscal union treaty if we have signed this agreement, particularly if it is legally binding and irreversible. We are going to be stuffed. In whatever way that treaty affects our interests—we can even have a referendum on it—if we abide by this agreement, we will not be able to stop it. Talk about uncertainty; I think it is safer to leave.

Let me declare an interest as a director of Vote Leave. Let me also praise my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Sussex (Sir Nicholas Soames) for raising the tone of the debate and giving us an historical perspective. He underlined the fact that we are at a turning point in the history of our country. I was struck by the shadow Foreign Secretary’s reminder that more than a generation has passed since the last referendum, when his father was opposed and my father was in favour. Today, the shadow Foreign Secretary is in favour and I am opposed. I shall not speak for my father in this debate, but there has been a reversal of roles. The real question is: should the debate be about the past or the future? We do not live in the world as it was after the second world war—pre-globalisation, pre-global trade, pre-computers and the internet, pre-space age and pre so many of the scientific discoveries that affect our world today.

Sir Nicholas Soames: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for what he says. I have huge respect for his views, but does he not agree that we cannot make a serious judgment about the future unless we are quite clear about what went before?

Mr Jenkin: We should be ready to recognise the EU institutions our continent has inherited as so last century, but I was going on to say that we must never forget the forces of history and the tragic errors of the past that have shaped the present on our continent, although we must also have the courage to embrace the change in our society and in the world that will otherwise leave us stranded with and clinging to outdated ideas and constructs. Our main contention is exactly that; the EU is an outdated construct.

Sir William Cash: Does my hon. Friend agree that if we remain we would in effect be in the second tier of a two-tier Europe dominated by other countries?

Mr Jenkin: That is a whole new argument, which I accept, but I am not going there now.

The referendum represents not just a turning point in itself, but just one point on a trend that is increasingly paralysing our entire continent, the unity of which is being shattered by the very institution that was intended to unite it. Let us look at the eurozone and at the Schengen free travel area and the migration crisis. Whereas in 1975 my party, myself included, was enthusiastic for membership of the European Communities, today my party—and, I believe, my country—knows that the world is utterly different.

Today, the strongest arguments for remaining appear to be ones saying that we are determined not to participate in the three main purposes of the EU: we will not join

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the euro, we will not join the Schengen free travel area and we will not be in a political union. What is the point of our being in this arrangement when we are so opposed to its principal purposes?

I must say that we have heard a certain amount of this debate before, as the Minister for Europe will recognise. Much of it is familiar from the Maastricht debates 20 years ago. We were told that we had opt-outs, but the problem is that they do not always work. We were told that about the social chapter, but we were overruled by the European Court of Justice on the working time directive. We were told then, “Europe is changing”, and, “It’s all going our way.” I cannot believe I have heard it again, but the Foreign Secretary actually said today:

“National where possible, Europe where necessary.”

John Major regarded that—subsidiarity—as his principal triumph, which was going to reverse the centralising tendencies of the European Court of Justice. We were told we would always be leading in Europe. Today, the Foreign Secretary said we would “fight” with “like-minded…states” and be

“leading…in a reformed EU”.

We have heard all this before—these are the same deceits—to persuade people to support something that we do not really want. We were told that if we vetoed Maastricht, it would be a “leap in the dark”. What did the Foreign Secretary say today? He said leaving would be a “leap in the dark”. The giveaway this afternoon was when he said:

“Of course there is more to do”.

You bet! If we stay in the European Union, there is going to be a lot more to do, because this agreement is of course so inconsequential, even if it were irreversible and legally binding.

What happens if we vote to remain? That is the question the Government need to answer. What will happen? Last time, we were told before the referendum that there would be

“no loss of essential national sovereignty”.

The word “essential” was useful, because it denuded that phrase of its meaning. We have the same weasel words coming from the Law Officers today.

If the British people are deceived again and we vote to remain, we will have resolved nothing. We will be back in the Chamber in five or seven years’ time either to demand another referendum or deciding just to get out. That is the trend: we will be facing the same problems and we will be afflicted by the same conflicts with our European partners, although by then the problems will be worse. I believe that leaving the European Union is the safer choice. Our security depends on NATO and our alliances, our own people and our resources, and working with allies. The idea that we can work with allies only if we stay in the European Union is yet another deceit being visited on the British people.

3.4 pm

Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East) (Lab): It is always a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin), even though I do not agree with anything he said, apart perhaps from what he said about the speech by the right hon.

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Member for Mid Sussex (Sir Nicholas Soames), which was one of the best I have heard in this House. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden) said, it was a pleasure to listen to. I really feel that he raised the level of the debate.

I want to speak about patriotism. The British people are deeply patriotic. According to the recent social attitudes survey, the overwhelming majority of British people describe themselves as being proud of our country. I think that means that they want to see a strong country, a strong economy, a more secure country and a country that stands tall in the world. It is my view that there is a powerful, progressive, patriotic case for remaining in the European Union.

I believe, as do many in this House, that we are stronger, more prosperous, safer and more influential as a member of the European Union. The challenges that we face in the 21st century will not be solved by pulling up the drawbridge, and they do not stop at the white cliffs of Dover. We achieve more working together than we do alone. We have a proud history as a trading nation and a proud history of providing leadership in international and European co-operation.

We, the patriotic, progressive pro-Europeans, are the optimists about our role in the world. We believe that by working with others, we do not lose power, but assert and augment our power in the world. The anti-Europeans are the pessimists in this debate—pessimistic about what we as a country can achieve by working with others, and pessimistic in saying that we will always be the losers when we try to work with others. British Prime Ministers of different political colours have disagreed with that assumption. They have driven international co-operation and the establishment of international organisations. The great post-war Labour Government of Clement Attlee and Ernest Bevin were instrumental in setting up NATO.

Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North) (Lab): Will my hon. Friend give way?

Emma Reynolds: In a minute.

As the right hon. Member for Mid Sussex said in his powerful contribution, his grandfather, Winston Churchill, played an incredibly important role in preserving the peace in the post-war period. Edward Heath took us into the European Economic Community. Margaret Thatcher very successfully drove the creation of the European single market. Tony Blair, somebody of whom I am very proud because he won three elections for us, successfully pushed for the enlargement of the European Union.

I do not often agree with the current Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party, but I thought he made a very powerful case on Monday for our membership of the European Union. That powerful case goes beyond the deal that he struck. He was absolutely right when he said in his closing remarks that

“this is no time to divide the west”

when we face

“Putin’s aggression in the east; Islamist extremism to the south.”

I agree with him too that there is “strength in numbers” and that the choice in the referendum is between

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“an even greater Britain inside a reformed EU and a great leap into the unknown.”—[Official Report, 22 February 2016; Vol. 606, c. 25.]

Many column inches and much time on the broadcast media over the past few days have been dedicated to the divisions in the Conservative party over our membership of the European Union and to the intricacies of the deal that was struck at the longest English lunch in living memory on Friday in Brussels. However, I hope and believe that it is the bigger arguments about why it is in our interests to remain in the European Union that will, in the end, determine how people vote in the referendum on 23 June. I will make three key arguments that are at the heart of the patriotic and progressive case for our membership.

Let me take the economy. We trade more with the rest of the EU than we do with any big economy around the world, including the US, China or India. As a member of the biggest single market in the world of 500 million people, we are a gateway to the rest of that market, which is why we are able so successfully to attract inward investment from companies in the European Union and beyond.

On the outskirts of my constituency, Jaguar Land Rover has invested in a huge award-winning engine factory that, when at capacity, will employ 1,500 people. Its chief financial officer recently said that any split from the European Union would damage trade for UK business, and he cautioned against “barriers” that would arise in the event of the UK leaving the EU.

Peter Kyle: My hon. Friend makes an incredibly powerful point about the importance and interconnectedness of trade. Does she agree that the same interconnectedness applies to higher education? Universities share funding across Europe and come together in an interconnected way. By working together with research grants and research as one European Union, we share our expertise with that of others, and we solve global problems together.

Emma Reynolds: I agree with my hon. Friend, and the University of Wolverhampton and Universities UK have made that point clear. They think that there is great strength in universities across our country working together with other universities and research institutes in Europe, and they benefit from the investment and funding that we receive by being a member of the European Union.

Alongside my colleagues, as a Labour MP I will be making the social Europe case for staying in the EU. Thanks to the previous Labour Government who signed up to the social chapter—I am proud of that Government and that we took that decision—working people across the country have employment rights and protections that they would not otherwise have, such as paid annual leave, and rights for agency and part-time workers. Many of those affected are women. As the TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady recently said, those rights and protections will be on the ballot paper come 23 June. Frankly, I do not think that we can trust this Tory Government to maintain those protections if we were to leave the EU.

There is also a powerful security case for us to stay in the EU. Prior to the European arrest warrant, the French suspected a terrorist in our country of bombing

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the Paris metro, and it took us 10 years to extradite that suspect. In 2005, Osman Hussain, the terrorist who attempted to bomb the London underground and fled to Rome, was extradited back to the UK in under five weeks. That tells us something about the strength of pooling resources, expertise, and sharing information about criminals who do not respect borders.

Briefly, let me touch on the weaknesses of the counter-argument. Those who want to leave the EU have a responsibility to tell us what “out” would look like, and it seems that there is a choice between on the one hand not having access to the single market with British business being hit with trade barriers and tariffs, and on the other hand having access to the single market while still paying into the EU budget and accepting the free movement of people and all the rules, but without a seat at the table. There are major inconsistencies in that argument. As I pointed out earlier, the idea that somehow we are powerless within the EU, but that if we left we could get precisely what we want on our own terms, is not believable. I hope that the patriotic progressive case for our membership will win out, and that the British people vote to remain on 23 June.

3.14 pm

Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): Let me start by paying tribute to the Prime Minister—not something I have always done. He has delivered on our manifesto commitment to deliver a referendum, and he is the first Conservative leader and Prime Minister to do so in more than 40 years. Even Margaret Thatcher, who I am sure all those on the Government Benches still adore, did not deliver a referendum and did not negotiate any pre-referendum reforms, bar getting the rebate back for the United Kingdom, so credit where it is due. The Prime Minister may not have obtained the impossible, but many of us think that he has obtained the improbable. He went to Brussels with demands that many people thought he would never get.

Richard Drax: On what the Prime Minister achieved, does it not strike my hon. Friend as odd that the Prime Minister gave in before he went by saying he wanted to stay in the EU even before the negotiations had started?

Mark Pritchard: It is always difficult to set out the defined and true position at the outset of any negotiations, otherwise one would not negotiate the position one would want to find oneself in at the end of it, so I do not agree with that. I think the Prime Minister achieved more than many people thought he would achieve. Of course, for some people even if he had parted the English channel it still would not have been good enough. Perhaps some even might have wanted him to fail. Overall, it is a good reform package for the United Kingdom.

I agree with the hon. Member for Wolverhampton North East (Emma Reynolds) about tone. The parliamentary and national debate needs to be done in the right tone with the right language, in a measured and respectful way. I hope that will be the case. We have heard some reference to scaremongering today and in the media, but it was Nigel Farage, in a recent Oxford University debate, who said that the EU referendum issue would be “settled by security”. My hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin),

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in the penultimate paragraph of his remarks, suggested that security was a key issue too. It is unfortunate that the issue of scaremongering is coming into the debate. It is legitimate to talk about national security, both for those who want to remain in the European Union and those who want to leave, and it is on national security that I would like to focus my main remarks.

The hon. Member for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis) wrote in the Daily Mirror this morning:

“The threats posed to the UK’s security are just like the threats posed to the rest of Europe”.

He is right. Common threats require a common response. Europe’s threats are our threats too. The UK’s threats are Europe’s threats. In an unsafe world this is not the time to be walking away from our friends and allies. This is a time to stand together. This is not the time for the United Kingdom to be quitting Europe. My view is that the UK is safer in a reformed European Union and the European Union is safer with the UK standing by its side, now with our own special status.

The Paris attacks have been mentioned a couple of times today and in the media over the past few days. Some say that it is less likely that the United Kingdom will be subject to Paris-style terror attacks if we leave. I disagree and think that is a very, very bold statement to make. Some say the Syrian refugee crisis has had an impact on terrorist incidents across Europe and will therefore have an impact on the UK. That may well be the case, and I will come on to those points in more detail later. Specifically on the nationality of those involved in the Paris attacks, however, the majority were EU nationals. In fact, they were led by a Belgian national.

Some have referenced open borders in the United Kingdom. We do not have open borders in the United Kingdom. That is inaccurate and, unfortunately, misleading. The fact is that under Schengen we do not have open borders. That is a fact.

Mr Rees-Mogg: We do effectively have open borders for Belgians. Belgian passport holders can come here without so much as a by your leave. They come through and we cannot refuse them unless we have specific evidence. If we could make them apply in advance and get clearance, as we have to before going to the United States, our borders would clearly be safer.

Mark Pritchard: First, the reference to the Belgian EU nationals was to make the point that it was not Syrian refugees who undertook that Paris attack. Secondly, my hon. Friend may not want to make this point, but I will make it for him. The majority of terrorist threats in this country, as proven by the 7/7 attacks, are actually by British nationals, not EU nationals. Of the four involved in the 7/7 attacks, three were British nationals and one was a German national. It is not necessarily the case that coming out of the European Union will make us safer from attacks. I think there is a danger from some—not Members and certainly not my hon. Friend—of a Trumpification of the out campaign. There is a danger of the shadow of Donald Trump coming into this referendum campaign, which I think would be very unhelpful and dangerous.

Mark Tami (Alyn and Deeside) (Lab): I totally agree with the hon. Gentleman that we would be deluding ourselves if we believed that by stopping people at the border, terrorism would somehow not be a threat to this country.

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Mark Pritchard: The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right, as he so often is. Rather than increasing the threat, Europe is helping us daily to decrease the threat to our borders. Whether it be through Border Force staff in Calais and other places, through Frontex, which has helped us with some of the most recent border issues, through collaboration between European police forces and the National Crime Agency and other UK constabularies, or through the closer working relationship between our intelligence agencies, Europe helps the UK’s national security every day of every week. As I said, suggesting that leaving the European Union will keep the UK safe from terrorism is a very bold statement.

This morning, writing in The Sun, the former Foreign Secretary, the noble Lord Owen suggests:

“Remaining in the EU is risking more than leaving”,

but where is the evidence? There is no evidence. That is another sweeping and bold statement, but no evidence is provided. What is more, I think that an exit from the European Union would embolden the UK’s enemies. In national security terms, who would benefit from the UK quitting Europe? One word and one country—Russia. It is the UK that has ensured that Europe acted quickly and decisively to impose sanctions over Russia’s territorial grab in Ukraine. It is Europe, alongside NATO, that is sending a clear and tough message to ensure that the territorial integrity and security of the Baltic states are assured.

On diplomacy, it is so often the United Kingdom that is the bridge between continental Europe and the United States, making sure that we get the right decisions on European foreign policy. If Members will forgive me, I want to quote from what I wrote recently for The Sunday Times:

“A decision to isolate Britain from Europe will have significant national security implications. First, a British exit would end Britain’s political and diplomatic counterbalance to France and Germany’s strategic clumsiness. … Second, Britain’s exit could also weaken Nato, with Germany and France extending Europe’s own defence structures and budgets, such as the European Defence Agency. In itself this is not a hostile undertaking, but soon, complementary defence could be replaced by defence competition”

to NATO. Some colleagues need to think carefully about that. It continued:

“Third, a British exit would rob the EU of Britain’s diplomatic advice and counsel…Over the horizon, this new weakness would present unforeseen and new national security challenges to Britain.”

Britain has a unique place in the world, and its diplomatic voice and reach is empowered by four essential global pillars: the United Nations, NATO, the Commonwealth and the European Union.

I would also like to refer to a published letter written by a former Chief of the Defence Staff:

“Britain’s role in the EU strengthens the security we enjoy as part of Nato, adds to our capability and flexibility when it comes to defence co-operation and allows us to project greater power internationally.”

I do not think we should dismiss the voice of former Chiefs of the Defence Staff. Yes, of course the United Kingdom could survive outside the European Union. Yes, we would still be part of NATO. Yes, we would still have our own excellent armed forces. The key question, however, is whether we are safer in the European Union or safer outside it. I would argue that we are safer in. That is also the view of our close friends and allies who share our intelligence—the “Five Eyes” nations—as

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well as of other nations with which we daily share intelligence, such as Germany, Denmark and so on. Let us look across the water to the US Congress, the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department. All those institutions and bodies want to see a safer Britain in the European Union.

Several hon. Members rose

Madam Deputy Speaker (Natascha Engel): Order. Because Members are still accepting the maximum number of interventions, I shall have to reduce the speaking time limit to seven minutes. If speakers continue to take interventions, the limit will have to be reduced further.

3.24 pm

John Nicolson (East Dunbartonshire) (SNP): In the weeks and months to come, ahead of the referendum on membership of the European Union on 23 June, I look forward to hearing, from all parts of the House, the positive and inspiring argument for our remaining a member of the EU.

I pay tribute to the right hon. Member for Mid Sussex (Sir Nicholas Soames), who set us off at the start of the debate with what I think George Herbert Walker Bush would call “the vision thing”. That was refreshing. The hon. Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) has left the Chamber, but I would say to him that, like his father, my grandfather died during the last war, in the Clydebank blitz. Neither side in this debate has a monopoly on loss or war legacy.

It is commendable, and refreshing, to see a Conservative Prime Minister stand in the Chamber and state his commitment to the European Union. However, if the Prime Minister intends to see a vote to remain delivered this summer, it is time for him to stop talking principally to his own party, and to start talking to the public in these islands. It is time for him to stop engaging only in the minutiae of his reform deal, and instead to offer a vision. As the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr Jackson) said earlier, the Prime Minister has secured only gossamer-thin concessions. The grander vision is, I think, the key. It is time to celebrate what the European project has done, and can continue to do, for the United Kingdom, Europe and the world.

Patrick Grady: The Foreign Secretary said earlier that objective 1 status, which transformed the infrastructure of the highlands and islands, could be seen as bunging money to people. Does my hon. Friend agree that that is completely the wrong tone to adopt in a debate such as this, and that we need to recognise the positive contribution that the European Union has made to these islands?

John Nicolson: That was certainly not the Foreign Secretary at his most sophisticated.

This debate should not be about appeasing troublesome Eurosceptics in the Tory ranks, or about establishing who the next leader of the Conservative Party will be. It is a debate about how we in these islands see ourselves, how we see our continental neighbours, and how the rest of the world sees us. What has been achieved in Europe since the formation of the European Union and its predecessor organisations is extraordinary. A continent that was apparently intent on destroying itself for decades—indeed, centuries—as nations fought with one another has been transformed into a continent that is synonymous with peaceful co-existence between nations.

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When I listen to debates about Europe in the House, I often think how much we miss elder statesmen such as Heath and Healey. They were parliamentarians with a memory of war, who could have put into context for all of us what this project was about. They could have reminded us that it was about peace in Europe, and about establishing unprecedented stability between countries that had torn themselves apart through generations of enmity. Many Conservative Members will tell the House that the European Union was established on the basis of trade and trade alone, but I think that they forget their history. The Schuman declaration, presented by the French Foreign Minister in May 1950, proposed the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community. Why? To lock the economies of Germany and France together into mutual dependency, making war impossible. That was a “first step” in the integration of Europe, and one that many at the time thought should be treasured. It was a remarkable first step.

Although the institutions and treaties have changed over the years, the principle that underpins them has remained the same. Whether it was delivering forgotten freedoms to ex-fascist countries such as Spain and Portugal, inspiring a new sense of hope and opportunity for the ex-Soviet states, or promising the seemingly impossible—the restoration of free movement across the former Yugoslavia—the dream of EU membership facilitated peace, progress and prosperity throughout the continent.

It will come as no surprise to Members to know that I want to see Scotland, one day, with a seat at the top table of the European Union as an independent member state. I want Scotland to have control of its own foreign policy and its own defence policy, to control its own taxes and resources, and to make its own welfare decisions. Like other small nations—Denmark, Finland, Ireland, and Sweden—we know that this is achievable while continuing to enjoy the benefits of a union which promotes human rights across the continent, advances social Europe, guarantees workers’ rights in so many fields, where we work together to combat terrorism and climate change, and which allows access to the world’s largest trading area.

Membership of the European Union continues to provide the peoples of Scotland with huge opportunities. The right as European citizens to live, study and work in any EU member state is not something that should be taken for granted. In 2012-13, over 1,400 students from Scottish universities were supported by the Erasmus programme to study elsewhere in the EU. Scottish companies have taken full advantage of the export markets; Scottish exports to the EU were worth £12.9 billion—some 46% of all Scottish exports—in 2013 alone.

The vision I and my colleagues on the SNP Benches have for Scotland is one in which we play a full and active role on the world stage, independent but not never insular. It was called subsidiarity by Sir John Major, a concept I think we probably believe in rather more than Sir John Major himself: devolving as much as possible, but co-operating and pooling resources whenever desirable.

The alternative vision offered by the Eurosceptics and Europhobes is a depressing one. Indeed the pessimistic vision of the Foreign Secretary is a depressing one. The

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prospect of retreating into ourselves, closing our borders and withdrawing from a union that has brought unprecedented peace and progress to this continent is a fate that has never, and will never, appeal to me. So let us trumpet an optimistic vision of Europe with verve and with enthusiasm and commend EU membership to the peoples of the United Kingdom with passion.

3.32 pm

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): I agree that we must understand the lessons of history and if I, for one moment, thought that leaving the EU would make civil war in Europe the remotest bit possible, I would not be standing here advocating that we do leave. How could I, when I come from a post-war generation where my parents constantly talked about the war? It was the essential fact of their life. My parents were 25 in 1945. My mother had to flee Paris hours before the German tanks rolled in. Her best friend, who was Jewish, had to throw herself off a train and was killed as she was being taken to the death camps. My father also had to flee France. This was a defining moment in their life, and it is not surprising that that generation wanted to create more of a sense of European solidarity and never repeat the slaughter and horror of two world wars. We all know that.

There was also a lack of confidence, I think, in that post-war generation. In the lifetime of my parents and my early lifetime, in just 20 years the world’s greatest empire dissolved—our empire dissolved. And there was a lack of confidence about our economy. When I had my first job and I was sitting across the river looking at the Palace of Westminster dreaming one day of becoming an MP, I was having to work a three-day week and was working by candlelight. Then when I arrived here in the 1980s we were shadowing the Deutschmark and it was felt that, again, we would find life outside the European Economic Community, as it was then, or the European Union a cold and hard place, but now we are in a different world. We are now in a new world—I will not say a brave new world, but it is a globalised world—and we have regained our confidence as the fifth largest economy in the world.

Therefore, some of these arguments are based on the past and we must certainly learn the lessons of the past, but we must realise that there is now a different future, and that the EU may have played its part but it has moved on from what we voted for in 1975. It has moved on from what was an economic community into something much more unified in that sense, and much more powerful.

Interestingly, however, so few of the people here who advocate our staying in the European Union seem to have this vision; where are the speeches today or this week, or in the country that have that vision from those who favour remaining in the EU? Where are the people arguing for a single currency? Where are the people arguing for us to be part of Schengen? Where are the people arguing for much greater co-operation and, indeed, an ever closer union? Where are those voices in Parliament? Where are the voices of the Ted Heaths, the Barbers and all these great figures from our past?

Mark Pritchard: I am not arguing for an extension of Schengen or for a single currency, but I am arguing for us to remain in on national security grounds. Does my hon. Friend, with all his experience, agree that if the

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United Kingdom were to leave the EU, the EU would be less safe and if the EU is less safe, just over the horizon, that is not in the United Kingdom’s national security interest?

Sir Edward Leigh: That is a weak argument, perhaps one of the weakest that those advocating our staying in the EU believe in. I am not going to repeat all the arguments about our security ultimately depending on NATO, but I will give one example, from recent history, in order to reply to my hon. Friend. Does he think that the European Union attempting, in a rather cack-handed way, to create an association agreement with Ukraine was a good move to make? Has it made Europe a safer place? Has it not led directly—I do not approve of this—to the annexation of Crimea? An imperialist Europe is not necessarily a force for security; the force for security is the best national interests of the United Kingdom, working with our partners in NATO, and that has been the case since the second world war.

I am concerned, first, by the lack of vision on the pro-European side, which is something quite new in this House. It was certainly not the basis and foundation of debates in the 1970s, when principled cases were being made on both sides. On one side were the Benns, Foots and Powells, and on the other side were the Heaths and the Barbers. If there is not such a divide between us and if we are united in this House in not wanting to be part of an ever closer union, we do not want to be part of Schengen and we do not want to have a single currency, why are we told that Armageddon will take place the moment the people—not us but the people—vote to leave? Why do we get these apocalyptic visions of what would go wrong? Why are the Government so intent on not having a cool, calm, independent cost-benefit analysis of what would happen if we decided to leave? I suspect, having read things such as the Open Europe briefing, that the difference is marginal. Open Europe suggests that, in the best case scenario, we might gain 1.1% in gross national product, if we became a deregulated, open society and immediately concluded a free trade agreement, and that in the worst case scenario we might lose 2.2% of our GNP. It is therefore quite a narrow debate. If it is a narrow debate, can we not just raise its tone? Can we not say, “Whether we leave or stay in is probably not going to have a dramatic effect on our economy”?

In that sense, it is exciting to think that we might actually be able to run our agriculture. I represent a highly rural area. Our agricultural industry creates 3.5 million jobs, provides 62% of the food we eat and contributes £85 billion a year to the UK economy. It would be rather exciting if this House and our own Ministers ran agriculture. What about fisheries? Do we remember all the arguments made by our friend Austin Mitchell, who represented Grimsby? Do we remember what Grimsby was like, when one could walk across the harbour across the decks of all the trawlers? Do we recall what happened to our fishing industry? Do we recall that it was given away in the last two days of negotiations by Mr Heath? Perhaps it would be quite visionary and quite exciting for us to create a low-tax, deregulated economy. There is a world out there. Winston Peters, a former deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand, has openly speculated about, as he says, forgetting the terrible

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betrayal of 1973 and creating a new free trade agreement not just with Australia, as New Zealand is now concluding, but with us as well. There is an exciting world out there, with India, China and so on. Do people not think—

Mark Pritchard rose—

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): No! No! Please.

Sir Edward Leigh: I will not give way, because others wish to speak. My hon. Friend has already given me extra time just by standing up. [Interruption.] I will finish my speech, because I do not wish to abuse the procedures of the House.

On a final note, there is a world out there. Let us grasp it; let us trust the people; let us not be afraid and let us regain our freedom.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Deputy Speaker: Order. We have 10 speakers and two wind-ups. It works out at six minutes each, and that is without interventions. I ask those who have spoken to think about those who have not had go to make sure that they also get on the record. If we can help each other, we will all get there.

3.40 pm

Stuart Blair Donaldson (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine) (SNP): I am delighted to be able to contribute to this debate. I want to take the time allocated to talk about how I have personally benefited from being an EU citizen. My speech will not be about the big issues that some other Members have mentioned. I agree with the hon. Member for Lewisham West and Penge (Jim Dowd) that this debate can get a bit theological, so I will try to keep it personal and talk about the points that affect me.

Mr Deputy Speaker, you may be too far away to see, but I have a scar on my chin, which I received when I was 17 or 18 while I was on a cultural visit—more commonly known as a lads’ holiday—in a southern European country. Unfortunately, halfway through the trip, I partook in one too many libations and ended up in a fight with the pavement. It is safe to say that the pavement won and I had to engage the local medical services. As I was younger than I am now, I did not have any travel insurance. However, the whole process at the hospital was made incredibly easy by the fact that I was carrying a European health insurance card in my wallet. That allowed me to be treated for free, very quickly, and I would say painlessly if they had waited for the local anaesthetic to kick in before stitching me up. I know that, compared with some issues that have been discussed today, that situation seems insignificant, but it is a practical way in which being an EU citizen has had a positive impact on my life. I am sure that it is an experience that has been shared by many other people my age.

I have been contacted by a number of young people who are slightly worried about what will happen when they leave school or are in their university holidays. They fear that a Brexit might mean that they will not have the opportunity to jet off easily to Magaluf or Zante for the aforementioned holiday. Will they have to

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go through the hassle of getting visas just for a week or two of sun, sea and other things? Such issues may seem insignificant in the Chamber, but they matter to young people, especially those who have been denied a vote in this referendum.

There are 170,000 EU nationals living and working in Scotland, improving our economy, enriching our culture and even legislating in our national Parliament—the Scottish Parliament. I have personal experience of the valuable contribution of EU citizens to our society, as one even assisted me in my election campaign as my election agent. I recognise the real concerns that have been expressed to me by constituents who are EU citizens. They worry about what will happen to them, their jobs, their family and their lives should the UK leave the EU. They have also expressed their frustration that they will not be able to vote in the referendum.

A large number of my constituents are farmers, and the European common agricultural policy provides vital funding for them. It helps farmers and landowners to maintain farming and forestry in vulnerable areas and provides competitive support to enable a wide range of agri-environmental, food, rural and community activities across Scotland. In the current financial period of 2014 to 2020, Scotland will receive about€4.6 billion from Europe to implement the CAP.

Farmers depend on our membership of the EU to survive and thrive. They are not only the people who produce our food and look after our land, but the lifeblood of our rural communities. To put at risk the substantial investment that Europe makes in our farmers through the CAP would be to rip the heart right out of rural Scotland.

Many Members have spoken about where they would like to see the EU doing less, but I would like to talk about one area in which I would like to see it doing more. Again, it is a practical matter. I would like to see a single digital market where customers can buy and then use digital content across borders. Why? Because I want to watch Netflix abroad. If my sunbathing or sightseeing is rained off, I want to be able to sit in my hotel room and watch my favourite show, without being told by my screen that the current programme is unavailable in my location.

In my brief time, I have spoken about why the EU is important to me as an EU citizen—not big issues, not theology, but reasons based on self-interest, which I am sure will have convinced some Conservative Members.

3.45 pm

Richard Drax (South Dorset) (Con): Thank you very much for calling me to speak in this interesting debate, Mr Deputy Speaker. I believe that 23 June will be the most momentous day in this country’s history, or certainly in my lifetime. We have the opportunity to get our country back, and I very much hope for all our sakes that we take it.

I was inspired by the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh), because it was so positive. That is what the out campaign is. Today we have heard from the in campaign that leaving would be a leap in the dark. We have heard about the risks—shut the curtains, close the door. Not quite “Dad’s Army”-style “doomed”, but not far off it. Let me tell those who do our country down, as I believe they do by

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speaking like that, that we will have huge aspiration, hope and opportunity if we leave the EU. We have absolutely nothing to fear from leaving what has, in effect, become a welfare state or the equivalent.

We are now reliant on nanny—let us call the EU nanny. Nanny has bred us, suckled us, brought us up and given us things when we asked for them, even when we do not deserve them. When we reach a certain age and it is time to break free from nanny and the cot and to get out there and start to grow up, we are told that we may not do so—or worse, we have been bred to the point that we do not want to leave. Sadly, that is the position of this great country.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Sussex (Sir Nicholas Soames) mentioned his grandfather, for whom I have the most huge respect, as does the nation. I did not know him; I wish I had, but from the history books that I have read, I believe he would be on the side of those who want to get their country back. We often hear from the newspapers, commentators and those who want to stay in that we are all, as I recall the hon. Member for North West Durham (Pat Glass) describing us, middle-aged grey-haired gentlemen. I hope that I have got that right. We are portrayed as swivel-eyed lunatics who want to leave the EU, dig a hole in the garden, stick up the Union Jack and sing “God Save the Queen.” Oh, if only it were that simple.

We do not want that at all, but we do want to be free to control our destiny, our sovereignty, our democracy. Every speech I have heard warning of the risks of leaving predicts that suddenly we will not trade with Europe, and all communication and intelligence will shut down overnight. We are told that there are 5,000 terrorists heading into the United Kingdom, or certainly to Europe and then, no doubt, on to us. Are our former partners in Europe not going to tell us? Are they going to sit there mute while London is blown apart, or Glasgow, Manchester or Birmingham? Those are, so the Europhiles say, our allies. They are friends; they are decent people. We do not dislike them. We love the Europeans. I am British and a European, and I am extremely proud of it. I want to be in Europe and to trade with Europe. I want to enjoy their culture, their languages, their mountains, their seas, their more efficient trains, their wider and faster roads and their beautiful wine; I want to enjoy it all, as we all do. But, like millions of people in this country, I do not want to be ruled by unelected bureaucrats.

I sit on the European Scrutiny Committee, which is a great privilege, under the most able chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash). He might like to hear about the conversation I had with my taxi driver last night as I was heading home—I always talk with the drivers, because they are always fascinating men and women. When he asked me who I was, I replied, “I’m an MP, but please don’t press the ejector button.” He promised not to. Then he said, “Tell me, guv, what do you think about the EU?” I said, “It’s simple. Do you want to control the future of this country, or do you want to hand it across to unelected bureaucrats and a political elite who are completely out of touch with the electorate?” He said, “Guv, do you know William Cash?” I explained that I did and that he is a great friend of mine. He said, “He sat in my cab 25 years ago and said the same thing.” That story is

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absolutely true. My hon. Friend, who is far-sighted, was right then, and he is right now. Let us get our freedom back on 23 June.

3.51 pm

Mr Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West) (Lab/Co-op): I realise that I am one of a sadly dwindling number of Members of Parliament who not only remember the ’75 referendum, but campaigned in it. Indeed, I feel a certain sympathy with those on the Government Front Bench, because in the years running up to the referendum I was a very beleaguered pro-European member of the Labour party, at a time when both the parliamentary party and the party membership as a whole were adamantly opposed to it.

I supported our entry into the European Community, as it then was, because many of the reasons given for our doing so were visionary, and many of them I heard articulated today most eloquently by the right hon. Member for Mid Sussex (Sir Nicholas Soames) and, to a lesser extent, by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn). I in no way resile from the vision I had when I supported Europe in those years. In the meantime, like many people, I have become frustrated with the way in which Europe conducts its business, getting bogged down in the minutiae of regulation, rather than pursuing the grand visions and aspirations we saw back then. However, at no stage have I ever believed that coming out of Europe would do anything to resolve those issues, and I have not changed my position now.

I will use the brief time available to me to state why I am still so firmly committed to our membership of the European Union. I welcome the referendum as an opportunity to get away from the minutiae of some of the debates we have had and to talk about the role that Britain has in Europe, and its potential role out of Europe, and exactly what considerations people will need to exercise when they cast their vote on 23 June. I still have those grand visions of Europe, but I understand, as I think we all do, that people will base their decision on what they perceive to be in their best interests and those of their country.

No area can understand and appreciate the value that Europe has brought better than the west midlands. The Centre for Economics and Business Research showed in 2011 that about 400,000 jobs in the west midlands were linked to trade with Europe, 200,000 of which were in manufacturing. That was before the huge investment that has come from the Tata family, first in Solihull and latterly in the i54 development outside Wolverhampton. They have made it clear that one of the prime considerations in that investment was our membership of the EU and its market. Toyota and Nissan have uttered similar sentiments about investment in other parts of the country.

We must remember that it is not just the major car assembly companies but the network of small manufacturing businesses that supply them that are so dependent on our trade with Europe. We must also remember that 80% of our cars are exported—half of them going to the EU. If anything prejudiced our ability to export them, the impact on areas such as mine in the west midlands would be devastating.

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Nobody pretends that the EU is a perfect institution, or that exit from it would be an immediate catastrophe, but in these days of footloose international development, a major manufacturer wanting to invest in the car industry or in other manufacturing, if given the choice of investing in a mainland Europe EU market of 440 million people or a UK market of 60 million people outside the EU, would almost certainly opt for the former. That is a hard, real fact of political life, which we must live with. We must make sure that these things do not happen.

The other main point I want to make is that, if we look to the future, the global economies are going to be China, India and, no doubt, the USA, with possibly south America and even Africa coming up. Crucially, our ability to negotiate with them and to access their markets depends on our being part of the EU. To those who say we are a great nation, I say, yes, we are—we are a great nation because we are in the EU. There is no reason for believing that if we cannot shape the EU, we will be able to shape the approach taken by China, Brazil, India or the USA if we are outside it. The fact is that we gain strength in our international relations by being part and parcel of the EU and by working with like-minded people to realise an international trading framework based on the valued principles that we have in our western societies and democracies.

3.57 pm

Mr Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con): When was it ever said of the great figures of history that they learned to suffer tolerable evils and irritations because they thought change too difficult. That is not the tone of the great history of mankind that has led us to this place; it is the creed of slaves—the tone of failure—but it characterises the Government’s position and the campaign we are being offered by Britain Stronger in Europe.

We have chosen to place before the public an historic decision that will stay with us for generations, and it should be taken in a way that reflects the tone of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Sussex (Sir Nicholas Soames). While I may disagree with him, his speech at least had the merit of being a great speech by a great man, and it deserves to be remembered by history, if I may say so—unlike the rest of the remarks we have heard.

In that respect, I have to say that I listened to the Foreign Secretary’s speech with dismay, as he started once again by listing all his misgivings about the European Union and all the problems with it. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills would expect me to mention the article he wrote in The Mail on Sunday, in which he said:

“It’s clear now that the United Kingdom should never have joined the European Union. In many ways, it’s a failing project, an overblown bureaucracy in need of wide-ranging and urgent reform.

Had we never taken the fateful decision to sign up, the UK would still, of course, be a successful country with a strong economy...That’s why, with a heavy heart and no enthusiasm, I shall be voting for the UK to remain a member of the European Union.”

I am deeply fond of my right hon. Friend, but that is not the tone I wish my country to follow at this time or the picture I wish to be placed before the public.

What is at stake in this debate is not whether we co-operate with the nations of Europe, but the basis on which we co-operate with them and with the world.

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Healthy co-operation is voluntary—I believe in that most strongly. Human prosperity, fulfilment and dignity are all underscored by liberty, and another name for liberty is self-government. That is what I came here to deliver—the ability to have the dignity of determining our own destiny at the ballot box. That is the great gift that we should hand on to our children. Whenever somebody says to me that we should remain in because we must think of what we hand on to the next generation and the one after, I always think that the great gift that history has shown we must always hand on to the next generation is the gift of parliamentary democracy and self-government, which lead to the flourishing of liberty, prosperity and humankind.

The terrain of this debate and the polls are leading to a real problem for what I will call the pro-EU BSE campaign, for the sake of brevity, and the Government. This recalcitrance is doing no good for our own country and no good for the nations of Europe. I do not have time to critique each detail of the Government’s position. Suffice it to say that when one finds oneself listening, as I did—like many Members, I am sure—to the presenter John Humphrys on the “Today” programme asking, in a sarcastic aside, “Are we still calling this a renegotiation?”, then one knows the jig is up. The Government’s position is not a fundamental renegotiation; it is a trivial one. Some of the benefits are worth having—I hesitate to say that they are not worth having—but they are marginal at best. When the front cover of The Week shows the Prime Minister pulling a tiny white rabbit out of a hat, we know the jig is up. When The Spectator shows the Prime Minister with a food tray, lifting the lid with glee and finding a tiny morsel on the plate, we know the jig is up. I am afraid that this renegotiation is a laughing stock, and it is doing the Government no good whatsoever to present it as anything other than a trivial set of changes.

We have ended up talking about whether the deal is binding. We are indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) for putting contrary evidence before us. I think it is fair to say that claiming that this deal is legally binding is to torture the English language in a way that only qualified lawyers are capable of doing. It is ridiculous to claim that it will materially affect the trajectory of our membership. It is largely symbolic—the word that was used to me by some continental politicians who visited to hear my views.

This is a shambles, if I may say so. It is not merely a shambles—it is becoming a rolling fiasco as day after day the Government lurch from one position to another trying to defend their renegotiation. We had the shambles of General Sir Michael Rose saying he had never signed up to a letter; he was in fact taking a contrary position. The Government claim the deal is legally binding and we end up going to and fro, potentially even creating a constitutional crisis in relation to the Secretary of State for Justice. Of the third of FTSE 100 companies who signed the letter about jobs, it turns out that 36 of them received €120 million in grants from the European Commission and spent €21.4 million lobbying the EU. That is all very well for them, but not so good for the small company in my constituency that was very nearly forced out of business because of ridiculous REACH regulations brought forward, no doubt, by companies that were able to lobby in this way.

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I will not return to the remarks I made on 2 February, which my right hon. Friend the Minister will remember—I do not wish to be so crass once again—but this deal still stinks; I will leave it at that. Instead, we need the candour to set before the public that what they are being asked to do is to choose to remain in a substantially unreformed EU based on the Lisbon treaty, which our party opposed for good reason. At least let us have an honest debate that says, “Do you wish to surrender your self-government into this political project or do you wish to govern yourself?”

4.3 pm

Ms Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh (Ochil and South Perthshire) (SNP): I start by paying tribute to the impassioned speeches by the right hon. Member for Mid Sussex (Sir Nicholas Soames), the hon. Member for Wolverhampton North East (Emma Reynolds) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond). I will seek not to repeat any of the excellent points that have already been made but try to introduce a few more into the debate.

Membership of the EU is important for Scotland and for the United Kingdom, but we need to work hard to maximise its potential. The Prime Minister has, most unfortunately, focused on peripheral issues rather than seeking to grasp the real opportunity that came before us during the negotiation process. Whatever the result of the referendum, how we are perceived by our fellow member states is extremely important. I certainly do not want to be seen as carping from the sidelines as opposed to leading from the front in any debate in the EU.

This week I asked two Ministers if they could set out the cost of implementing this deal, particularly in relation to the benefits changes. Neither of them was able to do so. It is important to have clarity on whether or not the proposed restrictions and the administration thereof will leave the Treasury with a net saving.

The deal is a sideshow that fails to address really important issues. There were 27 Heads of State around the table and the Prime Minister clearly had their ear, so where were the discussions to improve the transparency of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and to secure the necessary changes to protect our public services and uphold the principle that our Parliaments can pass legislation without challenge from international corporations? Where was the agreement to ensure that Ministers from elected Administrations across these islands—Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland—have a right to attend meetings and lead discussions in which devolved issues are debated and agreed, and to act as substitutes when UK Ministers are not available, rather than sending unelected Lords in their place, sometimes with no knowledge of their brief?

Over and above those issues, last year Scotland’s First Minister set out the key areas of reform that we want as a member of the EU. The EU should allow member states more autonomy to tackle pressing national problems, such as those relating to public health. Member states should be allowed to take the decisions they deem necessary to protect life and promote health. The EU should complete the single market in services and work to deliver President Juncker’s priority of a digital service market, as my hon. Friend the Member for West

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Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Stuart Blair Donaldson) said. On energy, an integrated EU energy market would benefit consumers and provide greater security of supply. We want regulatory reform to include changes to allow more decisions to be made at a regional rather than EU level. We should be negotiating for those things from within as a willing member of the EU wanting to play a full part, not as a reluctant tag-along, which is how we are now consistently seen.

EU membership is good for Scotland. Of course, the best deal for Scotland would be for us to have our own seat at the table as an independent and proud nation. However, despite the fact that Scotland is not a member state yet, we absolutely benefit from our current membership status, not least because EU companies add nearly £16 billion to Scotland’s economy. Scottish workers also get vital protections because we are in the EU, including guaranteed holiday and maternity leave, and protection from discrimination.

Our EU membership keeps a check on this Tory Government, for whom Scotland did not vote. Over and above the positive benefits of EU membership, it has become increasingly clear over the past week that one of its fundamental benefits is that it keeps this Government in check. The Justice Secretary wrote last week:

“It is hard to overstate the degree to which the EU is a constraint on ministers’ ability to do the things they were elected to do, or to use their judgment about the right course of action for the people of this country.”

If the EU really acts as a handbrake on this Tory Government’s plans to dismantle workers’ rights and to wreck our environment, that is another extremely compelling argument if there ever was one for those of us on this side of the Chamber who want to stay in the EU and support our continued membership of it.

The EU referendum has all along been driven by the Tory party’s long-standing internal divisions on Europe and the challenge to the Conservatives from the UK Independence party, rather than the specifics of the Prime Minister’s renegotiation. The campaign to remain must learn the lessons of the mistakes that were all too clear in the “Project Fear” campaign in the Scottish referendum.

As things stand, it is increasingly likely that Scottish votes will play a crucial part in retaining the UK’s EU membership. My colleagues and I are happy to step up and make the positive argument for Europe, because that is the right thing for our country. Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, will no doubt be a leading and welcome light in the debate, and this House and people across these islands can look forward to an SNP campaign that will be uplifting, upbeat and visionary.

4.8 pm

Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) (Con): It was very reassuring to hear my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary tell us earlier that he is a Eurosceptic and explain how successful the renegotiations were from his Eurosceptic ivory tower. That is encouraging, but I thought it might be worth looking at what the renegotiations achieved compared with what Her Majesty’s Government set out. In the Conservative party manifesto, it was “an absolute requirement”, according to the

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opening of the paragraph, that child benefit not be given to anybody whose children are living abroad. It seems to me that that has not been achieved, so our Eurosceptic Foreign Secretary has failed in that regard.

The Conservative party manifesto stated that we would

“reform the workings of the EU, which is too big, too bossy and too bureaucratic”.

The workings of the EU post the renegotiation remain too big, too bossy and too bureaucratic, so my Eurosceptic friend has achieved nothing.

In the Conservative party manifesto we made to the British people a pledge and a promise, on which we campaigned in, I hope, good faith. We said that we would

“reclaim power from Brussels on your behalf”—

not yours, Mr Deputy Speaker, but that of the British people—

“and safeguard British interests in the Single Market”.

We have not reclaimed a single power, so, in that, my Eurosceptic friend the Foreign Secretary has failed to live up to the Eurosceptic credentials of which he boasts—and with which I credit him, because the Foreign Secretary is an honourable man.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that what we needed was fundamental and far-reaching reform. We have not achieved fundamental and far-reaching reform; his Eurosceptic Foreign Secretary has, in that regard, let him down. In the renegotiations, we have not achieved anything of any great substance. On the free movement of people, we have nothing. We have so little on the issue of benefits that the great mass migration will continue. It was announced today that 257,000 people came from the European Union in the last year, 55,000 of them from Bulgaria and Romania. My Eurosceptic friend has done nothing to change that.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in his Bloomberg speech:

“Complex rules restricting our labour markets are not some naturally occurring phenomenon. Just as excessive regulation is not some external plague that’s been visited on our businesses.”

But that plague is to continue, and the renegotiations have done nothing to stop it. They have not summoned Moses back to try to deal with it, as I seem to remember he finally got rid of the plague of frogs that afflicted Pharaoh. On immigration, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that he thought it was essential to

“restore a sense of fairness”


“to make our immigration system fairer and reduce the current exceptionally high level of migration from…the EU”.

Nothing has been done to achieve that.

Not only is the renegotiation a failure because it has achieved so little—it has failed to tackle the problems that we promised the British electorate we would solve—but, worse than that, we have given away our negotiating card when the European Union comes to a fundamental treaty reform of its own. The document that was settled last weekend states:

“Member states whose currency is not the euro shall not impede the implementation of legal acts directly linked to the functioning of the euro area and shall refrain from measures which could jeopardise the attainment of the objectives of economic and monetary union.”

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The Eurosceptic Foreign Secretary—the honourable man to whom I referred—has managed, with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, to give away our most powerful negotiating card. When the European Union needs to develop the fiscal union that it has asked for, we have nothing to say because we have promised that we will do nothing.

And so, we have left ourselves still on the path to a European superstate. That state has been getting bigger and bigger since we joined it in 1972—a state that has a flag; a state that has an anthem; a state that, because it is greedy, has not one but five Presidents; a state with a Parliament that has not one, but two seats of operation; a state with the symbols of statehood and the powers of a state. It has legal personality to conduct treaty negotiations. It has the legal power to make laws, and those laws are senior to our laws.

My right hon. Friend the famously Eurosceptic Foreign Secretary said that the treaty is legally robust, but he phrased himself very carefully, with the pedantry that one would hope for and expect in somebody from the Foreign Office. He said that it was robust in terms of international law. That gives it no justiciability in the courts of the European Union; it is merely taken into account.

We have a pretty worthless agreement, and we have scare stories to tell us why we should not vote no. If it was dangerous—if he thought the world would collapse on the day we voted no—why did the Prime Minister offer us a referendum? Is he some hooligan or some Yahoo who thinks it is safe to risk this nation’s future by trusting the people? When he said he ruled nothing out, surely he meant it. Surely he was not saying that, in fact, he was always going to go along with whatever our friends in Brussels said, because the Prime Minister is a most trustworthy figure, who negotiates in good faith. That is the problem with all that underlies this negotiation.

4.15 pm

Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West) (SNP): It is always very daunting to follow the hon. Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg). There has been much talk today about whether sovereignty is an illusion. I know that the notion of parliamentary sovereignty is one that many hon. Members for English constituencies hold dear. I want to address that issue of sovereignty, and to make a plea for respect for the different constitutional tradition in Scotland in relation to sovereignty.

After his statement on Monday, I asked the Prime Minister whether he would confirm whether it was his intention to unveil a British sovereignty Bill in the next few days, as has been widely reported, and what provision he would make in the Bill to recognise that the principle of unlimited sovereignty of Parliament is a distinctively English principle that has no counterpart in Scottish constitutional law. He confirmed his view:

“We do have a sovereign Parliament…and I look forward to bringing forward some proposals in the coming days.”—[Official Report, 22 February 2016; Vol. 606, c. 53.]

We await his proposals with bated breath, but he did not address my comments about the difference between English and Scottish constitutional legal theory. I rather had the impression that he did not know what I was talking about. I do not mean that disrespectfully, because I am very well aware that he is a distinguished scholar with a first from Oxford, but I believe it is in PPE rather than in law.

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Every lawyer with a Scots law degree knows that there is a tradition of the sovereignty of the people in Scotland. I know that that conflicts with the Diceyan tradition in England, but many distinguished Scottish jurists have put it on a very firm footing. They include Lord President Cooper in the well-known Scottish case of MacCormick v. the Lord Advocate in 1953 and, most recently, Lord Hope of Craighead in his dicta on a case about the Hunting Act 2004, Jackson v. the Attorney General. Lord Hope said that

“Parliamentary sovereignty is no longer, if it ever was, absolute… It is no longer right to say that its freedom to legislate admits of no qualification whatever. Step by step, gradually but surely, the English principle of the absolute legislative sovereignty of Parliament which Dicey derived from Coke and Blackstone is being qualified…The rule of law enforced by the courts is the ultimate controlling factor on which our constitution is based.”

Sir William Cash: May I refer the hon. and learned Lady to chapter 12 of “The Rule of Law” by the late Lord Justice Bingham, in which he severely criticises other members of the Supreme Court for taking what he would describe as a wrong view of the whole question of sovereignty?

Joanna Cherry: I am very well aware of Lord Bingham’s opinion of the views expressed in the Jackson case. I am not saying they are binding precedents, but that they are opinions. My point is that the opinion of Lord Hope of Craighead in Jackson and of Lord President Cooper in the 1953 case are very well founded in Scottish historical tradition.

We heard much in the Chamber last year about Magna Carta, which was signed at Runnymede in 1215. Arbroath is Scotland’s Runnymede, and Scotland’s Magna Carta is the Declaration of Arbroath. It recognised that the people, not Parliament, are sovereign in Scotland. That is the difference between Scottish and English constitutional law, which is of long standing, and I ask the Government to reflect that in their Bill on British sovereignty.

The Declaration of Arbroath was a letter, written by the nobility of Scotland to the Pope in 1320, that asserted the nationhood of Scotland, our right to independence and the right of the Scottish people to choose their King—the people’s sovereignty. Most importantly, the Declaration of Arbroath said that the independence of Scotland was the prerogative of the Scottish people, rather than the King of Scots, and that the nobility—at that time, the nobility were, for these purposes, the people of Scotland—would choose someone else to be king if Robert the Bruce proved unfit in maintaining Scotland’s independence. That last point has been interpreted by many scholars as an early expression of the notion of popular sovereignty—that Government is contractual and that kings can be chosen by the community, rather than by God alone. We find that notion of popular sovereignty in other modern democracies that consider themselves to be governed by the rule of law, rather than parliamentary sovereignty. Of course, law can have many sources.

Alex Salmond: Is it not also correct that the community of the realm passage, to which my hon. and learned Friend referred, has been cited in a Senate resolution as an inspiration for the American declaration of popular sovereignty, the declaration of independence?

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Joanna Cherry: My right hon. Friend is quite correct. Many of the founding fathers of the American constitution were of Scots descent and therefore drew on the Declaration of Arbroath in framing it.

Anyone who doubts that there is a firm foundation for the notion that in Scotland the people are sovereign should look to the writings of the late Professor Neil MacCormick, who was regius professor emeritus of public law and the law of nature and nations at the University of Edinburgh. He was a distinguished Scottish nationalist and the son of the petitioner in the MacCormick case that I mentioned earlier, as well as being an internationally recognised jurist. Nobody could doubt his eminence in the field of public law and constitutional theory.

What I am asking for is respect when this Parliament comes to debate the Prime Minister’s Bill that deals with British sovereignty, if that is what we are going to have. I understand that many hon. Members from England hold Dicey’s doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty very dear and I am aware that it can be traced back to Tudor times and beyond. I am sure that they will be keen to preserve it, insofar as it has not suffered many knocks already.

However, we were told repeatedly during the Scottish independence referendum that Scotland was an equal partner in the Union. Therefore, I am sure that hon. Members from England, including the Prime Minister and the Government, will wish to accord the Scottish doctrine of the sovereignty of the people of Scotland equal respect. When our two Parliaments united in 1707, it was not the case that the English Parliament somehow swallowed whole the Scottish Parliament. It was a Union of two Parliaments. Therefore, it is not logical to say that the English notion of the doctrine of the sovereignty of Parliament should reign supreme, and that the Scottish notion of the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people should be ignored.

In fact, it is often said that the advocates of parliamentary sovereignty are defending a doctrine that not even the higher English judiciary believe in any more. It is interesting to observe—I am very indebted to my friend, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, for drawing this to my attention—that Dicey himself, in his ardent opposition to Irish home rule, was prepared to depart from his doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty. In 1913, Dicey contended that if Asquith’s Home Rule Bill was enacted by this Parliament, it

“would have no constitutional validity as a law”

and that

“it would be justifiable for the Ulster Unionists to resort to rebellion, if necessary, to prevent Irish Home Rule”.

If any hon. Members are interested in the reference for that, I can give it to them later. So even Dicey himself was prepared to depart from the notion that the English Parliament was wholly sovereign.

If the doctrine of parliamentary supremacy is compromised in English law, even by its greatest exponent, there is all the more reason for the UK Government to recognise that it has no counterpart in Scotland, to tread carefully when they bring forward their British sovereignty Bill and to accord some respect to the different notions of sovereignty across these islands.