The Leader of the Opposition has promisedand not changed his promiseto take his

The leader of the opposition has promisedand not

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The Leader of the Opposition has promised—and not changed his promise—to take his MEPs out of the European People’s party, isolating himself from centre-right Governments in the European Union and leaving his party with barely a single ally among the Governments or mainstream political parties of the enlarged Union. Indeed, Daniel Hannan, one of the Conservative MEPs, likened the European Parliament’s president—a German Christian Democrat—to Adolf Hitler, causing immense offence to conservative colleagues— [ Interruption. ] Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): Order. Perhaps we could now get back to the Third Reading of the Bill. Ms Hewitt: I am grateful to you, Madam Deputy Speaker. The point I am seeking to make is that the argument that we have heard throughout the debates in Committee, and which we have begun to hear from the Opposition in this
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debate, confirms a profound shift towards Euroscepticism and views that were regarded as minority and extremist views less than two decades ago. It is no wonder that Caroline Jackson, also a Conservative MEP, has described her party’s position on Europe as “a very nasty patch of poisonous fungus”. 11 Mar 2008 : Column 181 Mr. Angus MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP): The right hon. Lady has told us that she U-turned on her position of 25 years. Has she U-turned on her position of three years ago, and is she for or against a referendum now? Ms Hewitt: That issue was dealt with fully in our debate last week. Although I supported a referendum on the constitutional treaty, for all the reasons that have been given in the House and outside, I do not support a referendum on the treaty. Nor would I support for a moment the position that the Opposition have taken of threatening to renegotiate the treaty after it has been ratified by Parliament and by each of the 26 other members of the European Union. Rather like with the Labour party manifesto of 1983, that policy position simply could not be advanced by any party that was serious about forming a Government. Mr. Hendrick: Does not my right hon. Friend’s point about the Conservatives leaving the EPP in 2009 show why the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague) could not say who they would negotiate with? There would be nobody to negotiate with, because the Conservatives have no friends in the European Union. Ms Hewitt: My hon. Friend is right. The right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks, who speaks for the Conservative party on these matters, has completely refused to answer that point. Mr. Cash: In her perambulation through the U-turns of the Labour party, would the right hon. Lady be kind enough to remind us what happened in the referendum in 1975? I think she said that nobody in their right mind would go down the route of a referendum, but it was Harold Wilson’s Government who introduced the Referendum Act 1975.
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  • Fall '08
  • Finklerberg

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