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Andrew Bridgen uses his maiden speech to explain why he loves he Europe (up to a point)

Andrew Bridgen Commons Andrew Bridgen won the Leicestershire North West constituency at the general election – a seat which he claimed in his maiden speech during a debate on European affairs last Thursday was the embodiment of “middle England”.

Deploying humour to good effect, he made a fluent case against giving further powers to Brussels:

“We are here to debate Europe, and I am delighted to be speaking on that subject because I love Europe. I have travelled extensively through it, at my own expense. Indeed, East Midlands airport in my constituency is our border with Europe and the world. I adore much European cuisine. I admire much of its culture, and I revel in its diversity, but I am not a supporter of economic union. I was an active member of Business for Sterling in the no campaigns. I strongly support the Government's policy of placing a referendum lock on new European treaties, and indeed on anything that would give more powers away to Brussels.

“The events in Greece, which spread quickly to Spain and elsewhere, demonstrate the danger inherent in trying to pull together a disparate group of economies and cultures. We need to learn from their misfortunes and hold on to our triple A rating at all costs. I am particularly pleased that all hon. Members on this side of the House, our Liberal allies included, now appreciate that we need early deficit reduction to protect our credit rating. In my first three weeks in politics I believe that I have seen something I never thought I would see-a miracle. I think that we should call it "The Conversion of St. Vince on the Road to Whitehall".

“The consequences of not holding on to our credit rating are extremely frightening. Our economy has been run on to the rocks. Had we joined the euro, we would not just be holed below the waterline, we would also be without lifeboats. We have a huge task ahead to rescue our economy and solve the problems of 21st-century Britain. Sadly, we Members of this House, with a few notable exceptions-or should I say exemptions; I am thinking of my hon. Friend the Father of the House-are merely "here today, gone tomorrow" politicians. As a result, we must not consider ourselves to be the owners of sovereign powers. We are merely the custodians of power and sovereignty for future generations. Sovereignty is not ours to give away; it belongs to the people who elected us, and to their heirs and successors.

“On that basis, I am very pleased to be one of the many Members of this House who fought and argued over many years to prevent the UK from joining the euro. We Eurosceptics have often suffered the disdain of the Europhiles: at times-heaven help us-we have been called "little Englanders". As an Englishman of below average height, representing a constituency in the centre of our great country, that is an accusation that I personally find difficult to refute.”

Jonathan Isaby


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