years in Parliamentno doubt longer in his casebeen sketching out the image of a

Years in parliamentno doubt longer in his casebeen

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years in Parliament—no doubt longer in his case—been sketching out the image of a Europe about to devour us, but of course it never happens. I gently and with some affection, as we are both interested in the subject, put to him that the treaty, if ratified tonight and then ratified in another place, will not so fundamentally alter our relationship with Europe. Europe, in the end, is organic; it is plastic; it is what we make it. He talked about a concrete straitjacket that was cracking like “The Fall of the House of Usher”—he was taking me down literary highways and byways where I could not follow him. Europe is what the 27 sovereign national Governments decide to make it. The treaty of Lisbon— Mr. MacNeil: The right hon. Gentleman is talking about the Governments. What about what the people want Europe to be? Mr. MacShane: Whether the hon. Gentleman likes it or not, the House of Commons is democratically elected. I am fascinated to learn tonight that the Scottish National party seems to be throwing in its lot with the more nationalistic—if I may put it like that— wing of the English Conservative party. That is a marriage made on the green Benches but it will end up in a funny place. I do not believe that if the main Opposition party wants to govern the country sitting on the Government Benches it can have any truck with the lurid nationalism that the hon. Gentleman has just expressed. Speaking for the Conservative party, the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague) said—obviously the quote will have to be checked in Hansard tomorrow, but I took a note—“We want to be in the European Union, but not with this treaty.” I think I got him right in saying that. That of course is the eternal problem: everybody can dream of their perfect European Union. Many of our continental partners consider the Lisbon treaty to be written and made in Britain. They regard the present Commission as over- liberalising, over-Anglo Saxon, over-free trade. The European Union that they might wish for—more social, more environmental, more supranational—is not reflected in the treaty at all. I invite hon. Members to read the foreign press—I might have suggested that they consult their sister parties in Europe, but we know that that is not on the agenda of the Conservative party—and they will find all the arguments going in a different direction. I must 11 Mar 2008 : Column 205 gently say to—I am tempted to call him my hon. Friend the Member for Stone—my honourable debating partner that every treaty implies the coming together and the sharing of some sovereignty between its signatory nations. If not, there would be no point in treaties. Once they have been negotiated, signed and ratified, treaties exist until one of two things happen: either all the signatories agree to rewrite the treaty, or a party to that treaty, a ratifying member, simply quits. We have the sovereign power in the House of Commons. We do not need article 49 in the new treaty, which I find rather ill-written, in that it permits nations to leave the European Union. We can leave the European Union tomorrow by a vote of this House of Commons. France can leave the European Union
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tomorrow, so can Poland, so can Sweden, by a vote of their sovereign Parliaments. The
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  • Fall '08
  • Finklerberg

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