role of member states national Governments and specifically the voting power of

Role of member states national governments and

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role of member states, national Governments and, specifically, the voting power of the United Kingdom. Rob Marris: Does my right hon. Friend agree that part of the difficulty with the position of many Conservative MPs is that they think power is a zero-sum game? They think that either we have got it, Brussels has got it, the UN has it, or the Commonwealth has it, rather than acknowledging the concept of leverage, through which on occasion, by sharing power, the United Kingdom increases our power. Ms Hewitt: My hon. Friend, who has been such an assiduous contributor to these debates, makes a point that is profound and important in this increasingly interdependent world.
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Mr. Chaytor: Pursuing the point about the Conservatives’ reaction, does my right hon. Friend agree that there is almost a collective sense of denial in their party, given that a Conservative Government made the three key decisions that took Britain into the European Union, and strengthened our relationship with it? Are they not trying to conceal their responsibility for the very policies that they now oppose? 11 Mar 2008 : Column 179 Ms Hewitt: My hon. Friend is right and psychologists would doubtless have an interesting time analysing the reasons. His point is confirmed by the fact, that 16 years ago, the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke), the right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) and the hon. Member for Esher and Walton (Mr. Taylor), who have all spoken eloquently in our debates, were members of the Government who argued for Britain’s place in Europe and for a treaty that deepened and strengthened our relationship in Europe. Today, they are part of the small handful of pro-Europeans left on the Conservative Benches. Indeed, as the hon. Member for Esher and Walton said, rather ruefully, during the speech from the Conservative Front Bench, they have been so depressed by what they have heard from their party that they have given up the ghost this afternoon. Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills) (Con): Treaties have a cumulative effect. During the debates on Maastricht, the Government of the time argued for a Europe des patries, which was emphasised by the pillar arrangement. That was then. We now face the collapse of the pillars and not a Europe des patries but a European Union. That is why the argument progresses and the essential flame of our concept of liberty will not be extinguished by all the Foreign Secretary’s patronising. Ms Hewitt: The treaty does not extinguish the great British flame of liberty. With respect, we have heard that sort of nonsense from Eurosceptics since before the United Kingdom joined the Common Market. The hon. Gentleman and other Conservative Members should recall that, on the eve of Britain’s entry into the Common Market, Ted Heath signed not a secret piece of paper but a public declaration that members of the Common Market intended to move progressively towards a deeper political and economic union.
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  • Fall '08
  • Finklerberg

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