Readers will be only to aware that I have, in the past, attempted to hold David Cameron to account, in the politest sense possible, of being economical with the actualité. The time has come to withdraw politeness – the man is a liar.
Today, following his statement to the House of Commons on the subject of the last European Council meeting, the following exchanges took place – source is Hansard.
Many of those who argue for us to leave the European Union suggest that we could continue to be part of the single market without having to abide by any of the obligations that go with it. Does the Prime Minister know of any non-EU states that enjoy free trade with the single market but are not part of the free movement that goes with it?
The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. Look, my argument will in no way be that Britain could not succeed outside the European Union, because of course we could; we are a great country, the world’s fifth largest economy and a great trading power. The argument will be about whether we would be more prosperous and more secure inside or outside a reformed EU. To answer his question directly—I answered this when I went to Iceland—countries such as Iceland and Norway have to obey all the rules of the single market, including on the free movement of people, but without having any say on what those rules are. In Norway it has been described as democracy by fax, because the instructions comes through from Brussels, and they pay more per head to the EU than we do. It will be for the campaign responsible to make the arguments about what life would be like outside the EU, and this is a crucial question that it will have to answer.
Norway does not pay more per head than does this country! This has been illustrated by this article by Richard North. I really can’t be bothered refuting, once again, his claim that Norway has no say on the rules of the European Union; suffice to say that he refused to answer this same point in his reply to my dossier that I handed to him.
The Prime Minister is right to give his Ministers a free vote, as Harold Wilson did in 1975, but does he realise that underpinning everything in the referendum is trust? How will the British people trust anything that he brings back, dealing with a European Union that they do not trust and with institutions that they do not trust, if we do not have a proper and fully worked out treaty change?
I think people can see that this is a process in which they can trust. We promised a referendum; we have legislated for a referendum. We promised a renegotiation; that renegotiation is well on course. This is all from a Government who said they would cut the EU budget—nobody believed us, but we did; who said we would veto a treaty if necessary—nobody believed us, but we did; and who said we would bring back the largest number of powers since Britain joined the EU which, with the Justice and Home Affairs opt-out, we did. This is a Government who have a track record, but in the end it will be for the British people to make their decision about where our future is most secure.
I am still waiting for an answer from David Cameron to the question just what was the name of the treaty he vetoed and where and when was the venue of the required IGC and convention that would have had to have taken place for a treaty to be vetoed. He has also to answer my counter accusation, again contained in the dossier he was handed, that he did not cut the European Budget.
This man has the effrontery to talk about trust where the process of the fothcoming referendum is concerned? He is doing everything in his power to rig the damn thing and lies to boot.
An interesting question was also posed by one of his backbenchers:
The Conservative party manifesto said:
“We will insist that EU migrants who want to claim tax credits and child benefit must live here and contribute to our country for a minimum of four years.”
Although I am clear that in the referendum I will vote to leave the European Union, many of my constituents are waiting to see the outcome of the renegotiation. I would be grateful if my right hon. Friend could explain whether we are still insisting on that idea, or is it now simply a basis for negotiation?
No. I very much stand by what we put in our manifesto. The four issues that we are renegotiating were clearly set out there and we need to deliver in each of those four areas.
If Cameron stands by his manifesto pledge then he has just dug a very big hole for himself. When he returns from his ’tilting at windmills’ foray clutching his piece of paper proclaiming ‘renegotiation success’, Nuttall’s question and his reply should be thrown back in his face.
Another of his backbenchers seems to have found Cameron’s ‘Achilles Heel’:
The Prime Minister has for many years rightly berated the Labour party for giving up our rebate and getting nothing in return. If his negotiations are so meaningful, why did he not ask for our rebate to be reinstated or for a cut in our contribution to the EU budget? Is it because he does not think that we should have our rebate back any more, or because he just asked for what he knew would be agreed to so that he could claim some bogus negotiating triumph at the end of it?
I hope my hon. Friend had an enjoyable Christmas and new year; he seems to have started in a slightly churlish manner.
I would make the point that we negotiated a cut in the EU budget, not just for one year but across the seven years of what is known as the EU financial perspective—in plain language, the EU budget year on year on year. We also protected what remains of our rebate, which is still immensely powerful and saves British taxpayers a huge amount of money.
If anybody thinks that what I am asking for is somehow easy or simple, they can come and sit around that table with 27 other leaders and see that actually that is not the case. I am not claiming elder statesmanship—I think I have now been to 42 European Councils because we have had so many of these things—but I would say that what I am arguing for is at the outside edge of what we can achieve.
To describe a reasonable question from one of his own backbenchers as churlish surely stretches parliamentary courtesy; it was, after all, a perfectly reasonable question. In other words what Philip Davies was hinting at is the point that with so much wrong with our membership of the European Union, where democracy and self-governance is concerned, to select what may be considered four minor reforms is really just playing to the gallery of public opinion.
Yet another lie:
I welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to end the imposition of ever closer union, if that can be achieved in a binding way for the long-term future, but my constituents want to know what is being reversed. What is happening to the ever closer union that we have been subjected to for the past 40 years, and what powers are coming back to this Parliament?
We have just achieved the biggest return of powers since Britain joined the European Union, which is the opt-out from Justice and Home Affairs, where 100 measures came back to Britain. We have seen exactly the same, and we will see more, with regard to the eurozone, where we want to make absolutely sure that we suffer no disadvantage, we cannot be involved in bail-out schemes, and the British position is protected. That is a return of power. Look at what we are trying to achieve on deregulation, where we are saying that we need deregulation targets and cuts in regulation—that is about powers coming back to Britain. If you look at what we are saying about a subsidiarity test where every year the European Council should be asking, “Are these powers and these areas of powers still necessary, and can they be returned?, you see that the whole aim of this renegotiation is to say, “Yes, we are part of a European Union that is reformed and that can achieve greater prosperity and greater security for Britain, but we are doing it as a proud nation state with institutions that serve the people who put us here.”
Cameron knows full well that the United Kindom is still liable for contributions to any bail-out scheme in which the IMF makes a loan.
If it is Cameron’s policy not to answer any question beginning with ‘If’, then by the same token logically he should not begin his answer with ‘If’? Witness:
May I salute my right hon. Friend’s decision to allow Ministers to exercise their freedom of choice on this very important matter? Does he accept that that is a sign not of his personal weakness, but of his personal strength, because he believes that we in this party can have a sensible debate about a fundamental issue of serious importance to the British people? He has just said that the negotiations may come to fruition next month. If they do, when would he envisage the referendum taking place?
I make it a policy not to answer questions beginning with “If”, even if they are put as charmingly as they are by my hon. Friend. If we can achieve a result in February, I do not think we should delay the referendum. I think we should get on and hold the referendum. As I have said, it should not be done in any unnatural haste. It needs to have a proper number of months for people to consider all the arguments, and that is exactly what will happen.
I could continue raising similar points to the above but unfortunately who is listening? Certainly not David Cameron as no rebuttal to the points raised in my dossier; no response to the email sent to him in November last year – and no doubt no response will be forthcoming to the further email encapsulating the content of this article which I have sent.
It has to be said that quite a few of the questions put to him this afternoon were of the ‘patsy’ variety – no doubt at the instigation of Conservative whips – and the remainder were, on the whole, pointless as they only illustrated the lack of grasp MPs have on the subject of our membership of the European Union – and democracy in general.
In view of the fact the media does not want to air our views and our elected representatives will use every trick in the book to avoid answering us, one can be forgiven for thinking it is time we all saved our efforts in attempting to hold them to account.