Mr Jenkin Will the right hon Gentleman give way David Miliband No I am going to

Mr jenkin will the right hon gentleman give way david

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Mr. Jenkin: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way? David Miliband: No, I am going to conclude. Mr. Jenkin: It is on defence. David Miliband: No. The truth is that the Conservative party has drifted so far towards the fringes of the better off out brigade that the hon. Member for Stone can happily declare that they have achieved an increase in “our sense of uniformity and unity on such central questions.”—[ Official Report , 26 February 2008; Vol. 472, c. 993.] Not half! Mr. Cash indicated assent. David Miliband: I am pleased to see the hon. Gentleman nod. He has moved from the fringes of his party to the centre. The truth did indeed come out last Wednesday when 37 Tory MPs— Mr. Cash: Forty seven. David Miliband: Excellent. So 47 Conservative MPs— in other words, one quarter of the modern Conservative party—supported the hon. Gentleman in voting for an amendment that aimed to reverse 50 years of cross-party support for the EU. The amendment claimed to assert the right of Parliament over European law. In fact, it would have made “a nonsense of the necessity for Community law to have the same effect in every member state if the UK, any more than any other member state, could choose by national law to override what it did not like.” [Hon. Members: “Ah!”] Opposition Members can say “Ah!”, but those were the words of Sir Geoffrey Howe at the Committee stage of the Bill that legislated for Britain’s entry into the EU. People cannot join a club and write their own rules. What was the position of the official Opposition last week? In the face of an amendment that would have endangered British jobs and British interests, after all the huffing and puffing about courage and convictions, and after all the attacks on the fence-sitting of the Liberal Democrats, they took the tough, principled and forward-looking decision to give Conservative Members a three-line Whip on an abstention that would have set back our national interests by 40 years. They talk about wanting to be constructive in Europe; in fact, they would wreck the national interest. 11 Mar 2008 : Column 163
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The truth is that successive Governments have faced a choice: whether to retreat from the world or to engage with the problems and opportunities beyond our borders. It is this Government’s view that we must continue to look outward and to try to shape the world, building alliances to tackle the global problems that we face. That is why we are committed to playing a full role in Europe, driving the European Union’s agenda and making a positive difference to the British people. That is what this treaty is about. That is why I commend the Bill to the House. 4.17 pm Mr. William Hague (Richmond, Yorks) (Con): I begin on a note of agreement with the Foreign Secretary. Given that there are so many disagreements, it is a happy note on which to start. He paid many warm tributes to those of us who have taken part in the debates over the past couple of months. He was very generous to me—if being called
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