Where does the right hon Gentleman wish to end up Mr Hague I wish to end up in

Where does the right hon gentleman wish to end up mr

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Where does the right hon. Gentleman wish to end up? Mr. Hague: I wish to end up in the European Union but not with this treaty. That is why there should be, and should have been, a referendum. That is in no way an illogical position to take, because many of us have maintained for many years that we should be in the European Union but we should not increasingly be taken over by it. It is the majority view of the people of this country, and it gains additional authority as a result. Mr. Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) (LD) rose— Mr. Hague: I have not yet come to the Liberal Democrats. I shall do so later, but I give way to the hon. Gentleman now. Mr. Davey: The right hon. Gentleman seems to be extolling a new potential Conservative policy when, in response to the hon. Member for Stone, he talked about a new constitutional safeguard. Does he mean the possibility of using article 49A, which, as he knows, gives member states a right to secede from the Union, or does he have something else in mind—possibly something that he might wish to renegotiate with our colleagues if he were to pull out of this treaty? Mr. Hague: I mean none of those things. Only the Liberal Democrats have gone on about the article that allows a withdrawal from the European Union. It is one of the least likely treaty articles to be employed, which is why our consideration in these debates must be on the many other articles that will be employed. I am simply saying what I said a few moments ago: given the steady growth in the EU’s powers, I can see the case for a constitutional safeguard. I would have thought that many Members across the House would also be able to see that. The Government have also been engaged in promoting as largely innocuous a treaty that was of sufficient concern to them for them to have opposed large parts of its content for some years. As I pointed out on Second Reading, they opposed the EU high representative chairing a meeting of Foreign Ministers; they also opposed the obligation to ask the high representative to speak for the EU at the UN Security Council when there is a common position. They opposed the creation of an EU diplomatic service and said that they could not agree to the self-amending nature of the treaty. They opposed the election of the President of the Commission by the European Parliament. They tried to prevent employment, public 11 Mar 2008 : Column 169 health, consumer protection and transport networks from becoming shared competences with the EU. They objected to the article on a common defence policy, and they opposed the collapsing of the third pillar on justice and home affairs, but they
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eventually settled for those and many other things that they had maintained were wrong or unacceptable. Many of the objections that right hon. and hon. Members have made to the treaty in these proceedings were objections that Ministers made themselves until recently, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory) pointed out. Once again, the Government have not been straight with the country. They have taken to
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  • Fall '08
  • Finklerberg

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