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Conservative backbenchers slate Fiscal Union treaty and urge Greek exit from the €uro

By Matthew Barrett
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CasheurefYesterday in the House, an emergency debate was held on the following resolution, which was moved by Bill Cash:

"That this House has considered the matter of the legal and other action now to be taken by the Government in upholding the rule of law and protecting UK interests in respect of the nature and content of the Treaty on Stability, Co-ordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union."

Cash made his case for us yesterday on Comment, saying more Europe always leads to less prosperity and more disorder. Other Members who spoke made the following points:

Leadsom AndreaAndrea Leadsom was pleased with the opportunity for "change" as a result of any new treaty:

"The euro summit will consider things such as competition and structures, and inevitably will, therefore, be a forum for caucusing... So change is in the air.  I take great pleasure in the fact that, because change is in the air, there is the opportunity for change for Britain too. The prospect is no longer of a two-speed Europe but of a multi-tier Europe—in respect not just of those in the eurozone and those outside it but of those in the Schengen arrangement and those outside it, and of those great fishing nations interested only in the common fishing area and those who wish to be excluded from it. A multi-tier Europe in which member states can pursue their own particular interests but join together in areas of common cause is the opportunity facing us."


John Redwood was worried about the implications for democracy of borrowing and debt limits being imposed upon €urozone members:

"This debate is about the future of democracy itself. There can be no more important issue. We are considering a draft treaty that presumes to take substantial powers of decision over how much a country can spend, how much a country can tax and how much a country can borrow from the democratic choices of the member state to a centrally imposed system, which it is hoped will make the euro work better."

ClappisonJamesJames Clappison warned of the serious implications of an international treaty attempting to pose as an EU treaty:

"We are now dealing with something novel, because when hon. Members come to look at this agreement in detail they will find that it is not within the framework of the EU treaties; it is a separate international agreement that deals with how the European Union might act. Although it is said to be an international agreement, it is not an EU treaty and it will not describe itself as such, but the EU runs through it like a golden thread. It is as if the EU has come up against an obstacle in proper legal procedure and just decided to ignore proper legal procedure and go its own way; it has looked at the rulebook, the rulebook was not convenient for it and so it has torn up the rulebook and drawn up a new set of rules."

Bone PeterPeter Bone said struggling €urozone countries should be allowed to leave the €uro:

"The solution to this problem is to allow countries to leave the euro in an orderly way. Greece, Spain and Portugal at least would come out of it and would then be able to do what every other country has done in the past when it has had an economic problem—devalue its currency and set its own interest rates... I have a feeling that the good and the great of Europe have a policy at the moment of hoping that something will turn up. It is like borrowing more and more on one’s credit card hoping that one’s Euro lottery ticket will come up. It will never come up."

Mark Reckless told of the disasterous impact of European policies upon Ireland:

"The euro is destabilising the Irish economy, and it will do that again, just as it has already done, at great economic cost to Ireland and some economic cost to the UK. In addition, the bail-out we are told that Ireland is getting is a bail-out not of the Irish people but of the European banks... The Irish people will have to pay that back instead of the European Central Bank suffering the losses it deserves for causing this crisis in Ireland and for having very unwisely extended credit."

ReesMoggParliamentJacob Rees-Mogg neatly summarised the tone of the debate:

"We have here a treaty that is making provision for fining non-euro members for their budgets, even potentially ones that have not signed up to the original treaty if it is rolled in within five years, as the treaty itself requires. That is why this debate is so important to establish the legality and see whether we can at this early stage stop this treaty—a genuine veto, rather than a soggy veto—or whether we will find that by doing nothing now, by being friendly, kind and generous to our neighbours, we do not really help them with the economic situation that they face. I agree with those who say it would be better for some countries to default and devalue. We will instead find that by being silent, we have consented to a treaty that is against our fundamental national interests."

The full debate can be read in Hansard.


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