Mr Davey I want to talk about what we will do following ratification and the

Mr davey i want to talk about what we will do

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Mr. Davey: I want to talk about what we will do following ratification and the process of this Bill. I am concerned for the Conservatives, because their position is not clear. It is important to examine that position. 11 Mar 2008 : Column 191 Madam Deputy Speaker: As I have said, a number of hon. Members want to contribute to this debate, so perhaps the hon. Gentleman’s remarks can be related rather more to the treaty and the Bill. Mr. Davey: I shall certainly relate my remarks to the Bill. I hope that the Conservatives will tell us what “not letting matters rest” actually means. The right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks warned about the euro when he was their commander-in-chief before the 2001 election, but I cannot imagine his saying, “Ten days to save matters from resting”. Rob Marris: I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman will, in a sense, invert his comments. In the unlikely event that the Conservatives get their way tonight, it would be the end of the Lisbon treaty. The United Kingdom and the other 26 member states would have no Lisbon treaty, and there would have to be either a renegotiation or the status quo ante. The Conservative party cannot provide any evidence to suggest that if we were to kybosh the Lisbon treaty tonight, we could get a better deal, yet it says that the status quo ante is unacceptable. Does he agree that that is a hollow position and that the House should not follow it tonight?
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Mr. Davey: I agree absolutely. We have had debates about a referendum, but let us imagine what would happen if the country were to vote no in a referendum. What would a fantasy Conservative Government do in that situation? They would doubtless sit down with parties that think like they do—Sinn Fein, the Dutch Party for the Animals and the Italian Northern League—to hammer out an alternative vision and put it to European Governments. They would then try to work out whether they could hammer out a renegotiated settlement, but other Ministers and Governments in Europe would look on that approach with disdain. A policy of renegotiation would unsettle British business, the City and investment, and it would make a future Conservative Government a laughing stock not only in Europe’s capitals, but in Washington, Moscow, Tokyo and Beijing. What is the real meaning of “not let matters rest”. I believe it to mean that the Conservatives will let matters rest, keep quiet and hope that no one has noticed. That is almost certainly what they will do. I confidently predict that after this Bill goes through the House, the Conservatives will abandon their commitment to a treaty referendum as soon as they think it safe to do so, just as they did over the Amsterdam and Nice treaties —so much for their principles and pledges.
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  • Fall '08
  • Finklerberg

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