the Eurosceptics have what they tell me is a blocking minority on the

The eurosceptics have what they tell me is a blocking

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the Eurosceptics have what they tell me is a blocking minority on the Conservative party in opposition. If that is the case, it is a very sad day for the Conservative party and for the people in Britain that it claims to represent—the businesses, the civil society and the constituents whose interests and concerns are helped along by Europe as much as by anything else we can do in this House. I wonder why the right hon. and learned Gentleman has been sidelined. In respect of Schengen, the right hon. and learned Gentleman referred to an “ la carte” menu for justice and home affairs. That is one way of looking at it, but not how the UK’s approach is regarded by everyone else I meet—in the Conference of Community and European Affairs Committees and in European Parliaments, for example. They respect us, but, in terms of the EU arrangements, they view us as the most detached member. We have no euro and we have no Schengen borders. Contrary to the mythology we heard earlier about Schengen borders, we do not have the same border controls. We made a virtue—I believe it was the wrong thing to do—in our proposals for the 2001 election of our intention not to sign Schengen and not to come within the Schengen borders, but to have our own immigration system. I think that that weakened the Schengen system, just as our non-participation in the euro weakened the euro system. That decision bounced back on us and we became a target for illegal immigration. After all, if someone gets into a Schengen country, they will want out of it because they have been given a transit visa, so where do those immigrants head? They go to the nearest non-Schengen country, which is the UK. That is what has happened. We took a terrible decision and if we ever get the necessary opt-ins, it will take us a long time to get the Schengen arrangements working properly. Mr. Lilley: Why does the hon. Gentleman think that the head of Germany’s police union said that the lifting of border controls on Germany’s borders with Poland and the Czech Republic, when those countries joined Schengen, was “an invitation to criminals” and that European citizens will “suffer a considerable loss in terms of security”? Michael Connarty: The right hon. Gentleman would have to ask the German police that, and he would also need to ask the German Government why they decided not to allow people to come immediately to work in 11 Mar 2008 : Column 219 their country when the European Union was enlarged. If the right hon. Gentleman went to Poland, as I did with a former Conservative Agriculture Minister, he would find that the people of Poland believe that the problem of an enlarging Europe is that the Germans and Dutch are coming back to buy up all their land. The Poles do not make much money off their own land and are being pushed off what land they have. There have been tensions along that border for many years, which was probably being
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expressed in those comments from that German police officer. There is no evidence to suggest that Germany is facing the sort of problem that the right hon. Gentleman has
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  • Fall '08
  • Finklerberg

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