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Bill Cash MP: The failure of previous governments to veto EU treaties is to blame for our troubles today


Bill Cash is the Member of Parliament for Stone.

Today is the twentieth anniversary of Britain signing up to the Maastricht Treaty. I urged John Major to veto Maastricht and he did not. I insisted on a referendum at the very least and he would not give one. I warned against economic and monetary union and the single currency as a political project demanding a veto from the then-Ministers. Now they watch the Eurozone crisis unfold as a result of a failed coercive, federal system which was a consequence of their failure to veto those unworkable proposals in line with Britain’s national interests and wider Europe. There has been a continuing stream of treaties ever since Maastricht. Successive administrations have allowed the European juggernaut to continue. 

The creation of EMU, including the European Central Bank, which should have been vetoed by Britain, and as I said in December 1990 the “…problem with changes associated with EMU is that there are 12 different constitutions in the European Community. To assimilate all those in one homogenous arrangement to deal with questions relating to monetary, economic and fiscal policy is difficult to comprehend.” We are now in an EU-27 and we now have the burdens imposed upon us by Maastricht and the political-economic formation. 

David Cameron, then a Special Adviser to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Norman Lamont, during the ERM crisis, and now as Prime Minister, accepts that a referendum on Maastricht should have been given, telling the House of Commons at the end of last year, “It is wrong that we did not have a referendum on Maastricht, Lisbon and those other treaties. My clear view is that it is when this Parliament proposes to give up powers that there should be a referendum.” David Cameron is to be congratulated on his use of the veto. I am exceedingly glad about this – I had suggested its use in my pamphlet “It’s the EU, Stupid”, and in various other discussions. 

The proposal for fiscal union vitally affects our national interests and our democracy. It is not merely about the single market and the City. Once we have crossed the Rubicon we cannot cross it again – and it is imperative that there should be no backsliding on this position. I totally repudiate Nick Clegg’s attitude that the non-EU treaty of the 26 should eventually be folded into the EU treaties – leaving the PM’s veto effectively dead and the treaty itself imposed upon us, regardless of the veto. Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats are an obstruction to our vital national interests. 

There are now two Europes, both built on sand, and the situation is dangerous. The European crisis is not merely a Eurozone crisis; it is a crisis of the European Union as a whole. Europe is being destroyed on the altar of ideology. The existing treaties, which cover 70% of our legislation here in the UK, have failed and are the root cause of the crisis in Europe. We should not be obsessed with peripheral questions. We need to veto where necessary, as I recommended to John Major before Maastricht. Failure to do so led to European Government, which is still at the heart of current problems, and this is why we must have a Referendum. 

On 15 December, last year, the European Scrutiny Committee, of which I am the Chairman, announced that it was to conduct an inquiry into the possibilities for Reinforcing the Eurozone. Following the European Council on 8-9 December and events in relation to the Eurozone, the Committee decided to take evidence in public on how the resolution of the Eurozone crisis is developing and the possible consequences for the UK. The Committee will examine what we see as the crux of the problem, that is, how to reconcile the necessary monetary and fiscal policies, based initially on the statement of 9 December by the Euro Heads of State or Government, with the legal and institutional constraints. The Government’s position on the monetary and fiscal possibilities within the potential confines of an inter-governmental agreement will be central to our inquiry. The Committee will hear oral evidence from experts this week, starting today.


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