A Sovereignty Act must be introduced as urgently as possible

I said yesterday ( 3 June), during a debate on European Affairs at the House of Commons, that one of the reasons why the eurozone is imploding is the vast amount of social and employment legislation, the over-regulation and burdens on business not only in Europe but imposed on this country as a result of European directives and regulations. Hence, the Prime Minister's commitment to repatriate those powers is essential not only for us but for negotiations in the European Union. If that does not happen we will not have jobs, growth or enterprise, nor will we be able to reduce the debt or pay for public services where necessary.

Moreover, I stressed that the economic proposals that are coming forward, will be subject to majority voting. Consequently, we need to introduce and enact a sovereignty Bill so when Britain is outvoted there is an opportunity for the House to override European regulation in our vital national interests.

My concern about any coalition Government remains that we must keep to our principles and our manifesto promises. It is essential that we stick to our template and manifesto commitments on sovereignty. There are three categories of activity in coalitions: the easy stuff, the difficult stuff and the red lines stuff. We must stick to the red lines because they are about who governs us and how. A sovereignty Bill and the repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998 are central to that. We have a responsibility and an obligation to put the sovereignty of Parliament at the top of our agenda because, as I have often said, it is not our Parliament but that of the people who elect us. The question, "Who governs the United Kingdom?" is therefore central and we have no right to make any concessions on that.


The eurozone does not function properly because of the economic model of the Lisbon agenda. For years, the European Scrutiny Committee has shown that it has not worked properly. That is all part and parcel of the reason for the widening of our trade deficit with Europe. We cannot manage to trade with an imploding eurozone, part of which is affected by profligate public expenditure, as in the case of Greece, and part of which is affected by the deeply flawed statistical base of the EUROSTAT system. People are allowed to engage in what would be regarded as false accounting in any company.

We are in a European Union that simply cannot work as it is. It is imploding. It cannot compete with China and India because it is inherently ossified. It is a great concrete jungle of over-regulation. One cannot change the nature of employment, yet the whole social and employment base must be changed.

To my mind, whether we transfer further powers is neither here nor there. It would be wonderful if we had a referendum on the European question, but the notion that we would be committed to it only when a further transfer of powers occurred is wrong. I have heard it all before. I heard it when Lord Hurd was Foreign Secretary during the debates on the Maastricht treaty. I stood in this very place, inveighing against it. As the hon. Member for Luton North said, we got so much about that right at the time. The late Peter Shore and I found an amity based on a common understanding that that system was not going to work, and so it has proved.

The whole European system must be radically and drastically reformed, precisely because it is impossible to repatriate powers without a sovereignty Act-I repeat my call for that to be introduced as urgently as possible-and we need that to underpin the negotiations on economic recovery. We must have economic recovery because otherwise, we cannot reduce the debt or pay for the necessary public services.

If there is no way of reforming the EU from within because of the acquis communautaire and the role of the European Court of Justice, and because other member states are simply not prepared to negotiate sensibly on legislation that requires unanimity to repeal, we are going to be stuck by the majority vote. All the protestations, hopes, aspirations, and perhaps some rather over-enthusiastic promises, will come to nothing, because it is impossible to change the system under majority voting when there is no will to do so on the other side, which takes us back to repatriation and the sovereignty Act.

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