Sammy Wilson I do not mind why the hon Gentleman votes against the treaty I

Sammy wilson i do not mind why the hon gentleman

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Sammy Wilson: I do not mind why the hon. Gentleman votes against the treaty. I know that parts of it find favour with him, but if that is the reason compelling the Scottish Nationalists to vote against it, I agree with him. When membership of the EU was being negotiated, we were told that we were misreading the terms of the treaty, and that what we feared could not possibly happen. Now we have seas that are plundered, villages that are destroyed and industry that is wrecked. What we were told could not come true has come true. As for what are now being described as scaremongering stories, I believe that at some point in the future we will look back and regret that we did not listen to the voice of reason in the House. Michael Connarty: The hon. Gentleman will recall—although he must have been very young then, because he seems very young now—that it was the Conservative 11 Mar 2008 : Column 227 party that sold that line. The Labour party’s official position at the time was to oppose the treaty, although I voted for it in 1975. Does the hon. Gentleman’s party oppose membership of the European Union? His argument suggests that it does. Sammy Wilson: I do not really care which party tried to sell that line. It was the wrong line, and one that we have come to regret. What is so sad is that subsequent Governments have not sought to do anything about it. As other Members have pointed out, once we enter into arrangements such as this they are almost impossible to reverse. It is no use arguing that they were wrong at the outset and would prove devastating, because it is not possible to change them. That is why I find it sad that we have not given this Bill proper scrutiny. We are walking into something that will be irreversible. Conservative Front Benchers have been told, “If you don’t go along with this, no one will negotiate a different treaty with you. No one will talk to you.” Indeed, I think that one argument was, “There will be no one to talk to.” We have had some experience of that in Northern Ireland. We opposed an agreement between the Irish Government, the British Government, the American Government, all the parties in the Irish Republic, all the parties in the House of Commons and all the parties in Northern Ireland. We had been told “Don’t even think of opposing it; no one will talk to you, let alone renegotiate the agreement.” We did not believe that, and the agreement was renegotiated. Safeguards that had not been inserted in the first place were inserted. The people who had said that it would never be possible to persuade Sinn Fein to accept the police and give up their guns were proved wrong. Now I say to Conservative Front Benchers, “Don’t listen to that kind of nonsense.” It should not be forgotten that we are valuable members of the European Union. The other members of the EU benefit from us as much as we benefit from them, and sometimes more when it comes to trade, the transfer of money and a host of other matters. If there is a change of Government—as I hope there soon will be—and the
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  • Fall '08
  • Finklerberg

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