fly in the face of the intergovernmental approach that she says she admires for

Fly in the face of the intergovernmental approach

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fly in the face of the intergovernmental approach that she says she admires, for example in the Commonwealth. Ms Hewitt: I strongly support the treaty, in all its aspects. I strongly support the European Union as an organisation—I have argued this point before—in which Governments share sovereignty on issues where they believe that by pooling sovereignty we can do better together than we can do alone. The Union is quite different in its nature from the British Commonwealth, which has its own strengths but is a completely different kind of association. Although many of the arguments and, I suspect, the speeches that we have heard in the past few weeks are similar—perhaps identical—to those that the House heard during the Maastricht debates, the hon.
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Gentleman confirms that the position of the Conservative party as a whole is very different from what it was 16 years ago. Let me remind the House of what the then Prime Minister, John Major, said in November 1992 about the European Communities (Amendment) Bill: 11 Mar 2008 : Column 178 “The motion before us is about the treaty agreed at Maastricht, but the substance is about Britain’s priorities in Europe, and the essential question there is quite simple: in this country, are we or are we not to play a central role in Europe’s future development? I believe that the answer that this House gives to that question is fundamental to our future well-being—both economic and political. I have no doubt about the answer to that question. The answer, in our own national self-interest, must be yes—we will play a central part in the future of the European Community.”—[ Official Report , 4 November 1992; Vol. 213, c. 284.] What a contrast with the views we have heard—with a few exceptions—from Conservative Front Benchers and Back Benchers. Mr. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot) (Con): Does the right hon. Lady not accept that the reason the Conservative party has shifted its position is that the European Union has shifted its position? The British people have found out that the pooling of sovereignty to which she refers has proceeded to such an extent that we, the elected representatives of the people of this country, are no longer able to decide on a whole raft of issues on their behalf because powers have been progressively handed over to Brussels. That is why this party is changing. At least this party is standing up for the people of this country, which is more than she has ever done. Ms Hewitt: We have heard arguments along those lines from the hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members during these debates, and he refers to Brussels and to Europe as if they were a foreign occupying power—some alien force imposing its laws upon us— instead of an association of which we are willing and leading members. One reason I support the treaty, and wish that he did, is that far from advancing us inexorably to a united states of Europe or an imagined federalist superstate nightmare, it strengthens the
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  • Fall '08
  • Finklerberg

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