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PC17: Signing of Maastricht Treaty
Labour still can't help themselves but misrepresent the situation at hand, they are trying to scare the British people by lying to them and it really is rather tragic. The Shadow Foreign Secretary bemoans a list of issues she claims are proof positive that this government desires a European Federal State, she takes issue with the flag of the Europe which was adopted in 1986, she takes issue with the Presidents of various bodies of Europe each of which existed before the Maastricht Treaty, and she bemoans the European Parliament which is a crucial limb of European democracy under our plans but has been in existence for decades. Equally she bemoans a European Army, which is not in the treaty what so ever, she complains about single currencies which we have an opt out from, and she condemns European citizenship which does nothing but enshrine and simplify our citizens' right to travel anywhere in Europe visa free. In trying to take shots at the Maastricht Treaty the only thing the Shadow Foreign Secretary has done is prove how overblown fears of a superstate are. Every objection she raises is explainable as either false (army), opted out of by the Government (the Euro), or actually a positive (Visa free travel across Europe). The Shadow Foreign Secretary should stop trying to stoke fear and tension and start trying to do what is best for Britain and get behind this deal.

Labour's leadership care only about one thing, division. Their attempts to create a class war narrative are designed simply to divide our country into "us and them" scenarios for electoral gain to push their high tax, high spend, high deficit fantasies through on the sly. The Maastricht Treaty is excellent for British workers, they have the right to work anywhere in the European Union, the companies they work for have unprecedented business opportunities bringing jobs to our fair isle, and the Government's signing up to the Social Protocol provides stronger protections for their rights at work. This treaty is pro-worker, the EU is pro-worker, the only people round here who are anti-worker are a Labour Party determined to force our nation to turn its back on one of the greatest opportunities to come out of recent global society.

The Maastricht Treaty is pro-Britain, pro-internationalism, and pro-worker - three things Labour used to claim to stand for, so it is disappointing for me to see the Labour leadership stand up and reject it while media reports swirl around about groups of pro-Europe backbenchers and former Ministers preparing to work cross-party in spite of this self-defeating leadership-imposed stance. I want a Britain that leads in Europe, that is able to shape Europe in its own image and interests as the German industry and French farmers do, I want a Europe that works together to solve common and complicated problems, that trades together and grows together, and finally I want a Europe that stands up for workers giving them the right to work and travel freely across the continent doing whatever it is they want to do wherever it is they want to do it. That is my vision for Europe, some people call me a dreamer and an optimist but this treaty proves that that is possible. We have built a Europe that respects British sovereignty, builds the mechanisms for international cooperation, and entrenches the rights of the worker and the citizen equally across the country. Once upon a time Labour would have seen that and been supportive, but this Labour Party cares not for the worker, the British nation, nor the international stage it cares only for the hard left fanaticism that has come to once again define the party of Foot and Benn.
The Foreign Secretary should learn to not misrepresent my words for electoral gain - after the stunt with the Soviet Union, he should know I don't accept such falsehoods.

Firstly, I made it clear I knew that there was already a European flag. Quote - "it has started off innocently - with European flags," - unquote.

Secondly, I did not say there was a European army in the provisions. Again, quote - "if not established explicitly in the treaty, the clear foundation for setting one later" - unquote.

Thirdly, we do not need European citizenship to establish easier travel across the continent. Lets do away with that rubbish.

I acknowledged in my speech the Foreign Secretary had secured vetoes and opt outs, and thanked him for those. But they are merely brakes on a one way ticket to a Federal Europe, no opportunity was taken to change course. The Foreign Secretary is so out of touch he says I am 'stoking fears' - he does not acknowledge those fears are already well founded, and his complete dismissal and ignorance of millions of British people and their representatives across the House who have concerns about Europe's federal direction of travel proves exactly why he should not be negotiating on their behalf.
This Government is a government that cares for Britain first and foremost, you can see it in everything we do. We care for the next generation so we built family hubs to nurture them, we care for our society so the Prime Minister introduced the national service schemes, and we care for our nation so we put it right at the heart of Europe. I am proud of Britain, our model of democracy is being replicated right at the heart of the new European Union. A European Parliament, like our own House of Commons, filled with elected officials accountable to the people and making decisions on our legislation. A European Council, like our own House of Lords, filled with individuals of stature in the form of the relevant Cabinet Ministers from each constituent nation. And then we have our other great achievements for Britain, the securing of our national currency through the opt-out, the reinforcing of these democratic institutions through treaty reform, and the protecting of our national veto. This Government has put Britain at the heart of Europe by putting Britain's national interest at the heart of our strategy, it is not in Britain's interest to be locked outside as Ruth wants, or walk out the door as her party leaders want, Britain is best when Britain leads and this treaty puts Britain in that leadership position.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary accuses me of putting in brakes on a one way ticket to Federal Europe, if she had her way there would be a one way ticket out the door down the steps and back into the cab marked "isolation". What does an opt-out mean? It means we cannot be compelled to join. What does a veto mean? It means that if we don't like it it doesn't happen. The only way that we integrate further with Europe is if the British people tell us to and we remove these opt-outs and vetoes. I am not a Eurofederalist, I am a proud and patriotic British citizen, but being a patriot means I recognise that sometimes Britain's interests are not best served on the outside looking in but are in fact best served at the heart of a vibrant European community growing together in trade and travel with national sovereignty respected. That is what the Maastricht Treaty does, every single objection Ruth came up with is met with a simple answer. European Army? Blocked. European Single Currency? Opt out. United States of Europe? Veto. This treaty does more to protect British sovereignty than any that came before it and does more to put Britain at the heart of Europe than any action since before that fateful day when Labour rejected the chance to join the Coal and Steel Community.
I am fundamentally disappointed with this treaty. As I said in my speech in the House, we must not shy away from engaging with our European partners, but at the same time we must maintain our British identity. The final result of this treaty is clear: we are taking steps toward forming a Federal Europe rather than a Europe of cooperation and trade. The European Project was fundamentally founded with the noblest aims: to make sure that we never see the divisions and conflict that the middle of this century. These are goals that we must continue to promote and fight for. This treaty does little to further these aims, instead centralizing power to Brussels and not respecting the Sovereignty of each member-state.

Nothing perhaps exemplifies this toxic turn of focus than the United Kingdom being asked--and the Government acquiescing--to the possibility of removing the image of Our Most Sovereign Majesty from our currency. I never thought I would see the day with the Tory party--a party that claims to be Royalist, would be allowing for a possibility to remove the Queen from our currency. It is a sad day for Britain, and it is something that I will vehemently oppose.

I will continue to fight for greater cooperation with our European friends and the European project, but we must do so in a way that recognizes that are are British first, and European second. This treaty does not accomplish this--and therefore I will be opposing it. 

There is something inherently wrong with the Government rejecting an up or down vote on ratifying the treaty--while bowing to European demands that we put the question of whether or not we should continue to have the image of Our Most Gracious Sovereign, the Queen, on our currency.  It is a challenge to sit in the House and listen to the Foreign Secretary with one breath blame Labour for opposing the capitulation to Europe on our currency while in the other condemning Labour's attempt to bring the question of whether or not to ratify the treaty directly to the British people. It is right and true that not all questions should be put to the British people directly. While the Lib Dems might like referendum after referendum, we understand that only the most controversial, constitutional, and consequential questions should be put to the people directly. I respectfully say this to the Government: there has not been such a controversial, constitutional, and controversial question since this treaty. When parties from all sides of the House--including the Tory party itself--are speaking publicly against this treaty, this is an issue that the British people must themselves weigh in on.

Finally I would be remiss if I did not again express my great dismay that the question of removing the image of Our Most Gracious Sovereign is being put to the British people. We are the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, not the United Republic. I would encourage my Conservative friends and voters to consider well the ripple effects that removing the image of Our Sovereign from our currency would have for our Kingdom--and ponder how we got into this situation in the first place. The blame lies squarely on the Government and the Foreign Secretary.
Labour MP for The Wrekin (1987-Present)

Biography | 3 XP | Constituency Appeal | Issue Champion (The Pound)
The Labour vs Tory debate on Maastrict here proves one thing - that the people are likely to have a far more valuable input than the politicians, on this one. It is easy to get used to the traditional punch and judy show - heaven knows I've bored enough of you with mentioning that over the last few years - but there is an alternative. Labour are totally right to call for a referendum, and to consult the public. The Tories are totally right to be arguing our place is in Europe as a leading member, and that Maastricht is a good thing. Both can be true! And we needn't settle for this combative bloodbath style of politics! I am calling for a referendum on the treaty because I want to make a strong, positive case for Europe to the British people. Too often, our political figures are scared to leave Westminster, and to have to go and make a case. It's my view that the Great British public respect those who do, and I want to get our politics out of Parliament and onto the doorstep, so we can do a bit less lecturing, and a bit more listening.

It is interesting to see the other parties dig their trenches on this issue. In my experience of foreign policy, and even just of the human condition on my travels with the BBC around the world, I find that to do so doesn't tend to lead to good policy making, or a good deal for the country. To put it simply, how we navigate our nation's way in the world is rarely a matter of black or white, and especially on Europe, it's a case of grey or grey. I am a passionate pro-European, and that passion means I want a referendum so I can make my case to the public, and when we win the vote, it means I want us to be in Brussels, pushing the reform we need. Europe is not perfect - how could it be, it's a whole continent, with a diverse diaspora of people and politics of all kind. But neither is Parliament, and neither are the lazy local Councils many British people live under, which have a far more direct day-to-day impact on their lives. And I must tell you all - I haven't stopped trying to reform Parliament, I haven't stopped trying to put community politics on the agenda, and I won't be a quitter on a whole continent either!
Forty eight years ago we stood shoulder to shoulder on the beaches of Normandy with French, Polish, Czech, Norwegian, Belgian, Dutch, Dane – European sons. Today, we have the chance to come together again, without bloodshed nor losers. This country has never doubted that our rightful place lies in Europe. So let’s seize that mantle once again. The Maastricht treaty, combined with a single currency, will do just that. Let’s Lead Europe.
It is all too rare that we can reach across the isle and find common ground, in British politics, with our two-party system. Today, standing at a rally, addressing voters at Trafalgar Square, alongside colleagues - no, friends - in Bibi Lauria, and Roy Hattersley... well, it was one of those rare, fantastic days. We stood together because we share a common purpose, and believe in a noble, internationalist, cause. Our rosettes may bear different colours, but it is self-evident that there is innate value in working with our friends on the continent, and in making the case for Europe not from a partisan perspective, but out of genuine belief. Days like this are why I have no regrets about getting into politics, however frustrating it may be at times.

Let's Lead Europe is a campaign for realists. We know our continent isn't perfect - how could it be, it's enormous, complex, complicated, and nuanced - but we also understand that it's imperfection is why our country's leadership is so essential. We'll fight for change together, united. To put it simply, and to paraphrase my speech - this project, the European project, is one which brings people together, former political adversaries together, and can allow new generations to work, live, travel, love, and be free, and at home, across a whole continent. That is absolutely worth fighting for.
Maastricht will move Britain to the cusp of European power – and we should embrace the chance that it offers, and go even further. We should now seek to put Britain at the very heart of the European project. It is essential that we now move from this excellent treaty towards the greater, and more important. prize of a single currency. If we wish to lead, then we should never be afraid to do so. It is imperative that we join our friends across the continent in the pursuit of common gain, whilst retaining our influence over policy. A single currency will do just that.

A single currency represents more than just a moment, for it is indicative of the re-emergence of the Age of Europe. The decision of currency that this country makes will no longer be about whether we are simple “in or out”, but instead if we are to lead, or be led. Britain is best when it is bold. The Maastricht treaty does much in this pursuit, and this country has the chance to go further. Let us not be afraid to stand tall, and move to seize the unparalleled opportunity to take up our rightful place at the heart of Europe.
Today, I spoke in Parliament about the importance of embracing democracy and sovereignty when it comes to our dealings with Europe. We Conservatives did not stand on a manifesto embracing or even calling for the Maastricht Treaty back five years ago. While I am optimistic that we will secure five more years in government, to ratify such a treaty on the threshold of an election would be a betrayal of the public we serve. It would also open the door for adoption of a single-currency, tying British economic prosperity to that of other, weaker European economies. We must put Maastricht to the people in a democratic referendum, where I will vote against ratification and for sovereignty.
If you listen to the government and the Liberal Democrats, you'd think that we have just two choices: to either sign up as fully fledged enthusiasts of a Federal Europe with only stopgaps that can resist it for a short period of time, or to be isolated within it. It will come as no surprise that I completely reject that. 

The Foreign Secretary has done very little to have us lead within Europe except to create these stopgaps which can and may become useless in an instant: in the meantime, the Germans call the shots at the expense of our economy and public services and the French call the shots at the expense of British farmers and consumers. The Foreign Secretary could've truly led and got a good deal for Britain, but instead he has fought for the bare minimum.

I'm completely transparent that I'm not against a treaty - but I am against this Tory treaty. Labour will intend to lead in Europe by fighting for stronger recognition of our sovereign Parliament, opting out of a federal European project and ensuring we cooperate with our allies to establish a harmonious social Europe which works for people, not for banks and corporations.

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