Conservative MPs call for UK veto over EU laws


Chris Grayling: "Not realistic to have situation where one parliament can veto laws across EU"

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A total of 95 Conservative MPs have written to David Cameron urging him to give Parliament a national veto over current and future EU laws.

They urged him to hand the Commons the ability to block new EU legislation and repeal existing measures that threaten Britain's "national interests".

But Foreign Secretary William Hague rejected their demand, saying it would make the single market unworkable.

"We have to be realistic about these things," he told Sky News.

Downing Street said it was working on a new settlement with Brussels.

But Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Conservatives must "make up their minds" on whether to stay in the EU.

And Conservative Justice Secretary Chris Grayling suggested it would not be "viable" to allow any "one (national) parliament to veto European legislation".

The ideas proposed by the MPs were first put forward by the Commons European Scrutiny Committee last month.

In the letter, they said the move would enable the government to "recover control over our borders, to lift EU burdens on business, to regain control over energy policy and to disapply the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights".

Start Quote

How long is it going to take us to change this? We're a democracy and we should be able to decide these things for ourselves”

End Quote Tory MP Bernard Jenkin

According to the Sunday Telegraph, signatories to the letter included James Clappison, Conor Burns, John Baron, Anne Main and former defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth.

'Make reality'

They told the prime minister: "Each time you have stood up for British interests in Brussels, you have achieved a great deal.

"Building on your achievements, we would urge you to back the European Scrutiny Committee proposal and make the idea of a national veto over current and future EU laws a reality."

Mr Cameron has promised to renegotiate the terms of Britain's membership of the European Union and hold a referendum in 2017, but many Conservative MPs want the prime minister to give more detail about exactly what changes he would like to see.

Senior Tory Bernard Jenkin, who drafted the letter, told BBC Radio 4's The World this Weekend: "What makes this so acidic and corrosive in politics is that members of Parliament, and national governments who are elected to be responsible and accountable for this, have had their power of decision taken away from them."

He said Mr Cameron should be able to "stand up in Parliament and say 'this is what I have decided in the national interest should be the case'.

"But he can't say that. He has to say 'I can't control who can claim benefits'."

Start Quote

Conservative MPs now need to make up their minds. If they want full exit from the European Union, they should be free to argue it, but they should be candid”

End Quote Nick Clegg

He added: "How long is it going to take us to change this? We're a democracy and we should be able to decide these things for ourselves."

'Red card'

Speaking on Sky News' Murnaghan programme, Mr Hague said: "On the specific (parliamentary veto) proposal, when you think about it, of course if national parliaments all around the EU were regularly and unilaterally able to choose which bits of EU law they would apply and which bits they would not then the European single market would not work and even a Swiss-style free trade arrangement with the EU would not work."

Mr Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "Conservative MPs now need to make up their minds. If they want full exit from the European Union, they should be free to argue it, but they should be candid."

He added: "You can't safeguard a single market if you say the rest of Europe has to play by the rules but we can't... You are either in or out."

Mr Clegg, whose party is strongly supportive of the UK remaining in the EU, also said: "We already have a procedure where parliaments can club together and national parliaments can say 'We don't like this particular proposal' and can hold up the red card."

'Not convinced'

Mr Grayling told BBC One's Sunday Politics: "I don't think it's realistic (that)... any one parliament can veto laws across the European Union."

He added: "We have got to have a system that's viable. I'm not convinced we can have a system where one parliament can veto European legislation."

Meanwhile, a survey has suggested that more people think Britain should stay in the EU but try to reduce its powers (38%) than want to leave (28%).

The poll of more than 2,000 people for think tank British Future also found that people thought migrants who came to the UK from other European countries should learn English (69%), get a job and pay taxes (64%) and not claim benefits (48%).


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  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    I just can't understand the whole anti-EU thing. I know this country is different, it is an island etc, but being member of a club, where you hate all the other members, just so you can sabotage it is simply not a sustainable approach. If you really can't bear the thought of being a member of club of equals working together for the commin good then get out before you are expelled.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    EU Democracy = Minority rule.
    UK democracy = Minority rule.

    How many Conservative and Liberal Democrats MPs are there in Wales, Scotland and NI? When was the last government that had over 50% of the popular vote?

    My grandfathers fought in WWII for peace. An united Europe has a better hope for peace than a divided Europe.

    Citizens without rights live in a dictatorship.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    Inselaf @ 58:
    "The Conservatives seem to think that they & only they have the right to decide what is right & good for the U.K. That they are against the "Human Rights Charta" amongst other things is therefore not surprising. SInce the days of Thatcher the U.K. has been sliding slowly but surely into a quasi Dictatorship."


    If you really believe that then you welcome a referendum?

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    This is all because a self-interested political elite wish to remove ground breaking legislation such as human rights. They (politicians) don't like the thought of plebeians having re-dress to a higher court. A court which has on several occasions over turned their stupid poorly written unfair laws.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    Its probably best that we do leave Europe - but it must be an amicable separation not a bitter divorce. Shame really because up to the last couple of years I was always pro-Europe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    there is no way you can have a free and fair debate in this country about the EU as too many people believe what the Goverment, Dailymail and the Sun say and ther BBC have become a Conserative spoksmen are just lies or distorted, no point in a referendum. no one will pick up a book and see what the EU actually does for us! most of our rights stem from EU law, if we leave they will be removed!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    #65 Paul C

    ...There are a lot of things that go on in the UK that don't make sense and it only happens because Europe tell us we have to do it (Hamza and Qatada deportation battles)...

    Please try to get your head around the fact that Brussels does not control the European court of Human Rights. The ECHR is related to the council of Europe and includes many countries not in the EU

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    Yeah, its a bit like King John's time, foreign laws and regulations, an band of men ruling their own locality making up local rules and taxes. Immigrants coming in taking trade jobs. Plebs being told to work or lose their homes, rights not upheld under laws made against an imported religion - have I missed anything?

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    A sensible approach. The EU wields too much power to override national governments.

    While many countries are devolving power to constituent elements while the EU continues to centralise & 'command & control'. If this doesn't cease extreme political doctrines will start to flourish which is beginning to happen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    It won't make one Iota of difference how many MP's vote for a Veto on EU laws or any other EU nonsense for that matter. MP's do not have any power to do get anyrthing done, the unelected House of Lords who live in grandeur off the fat off the Fat of the EU land will never freely give away their Life ticket aboard the EU gravy train just to appease the poor old unlistened to British Electorate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    @22.The J Hoovers Witnesses
    The real story's buried here:
    "Meanwhile, a survey has suggested that more people think Britain should stay in the EU but try to reduce its powers (38%) than want to leave (28%)"
    We don't believe the phoney statistics that your masters in Brussels feed you Hoover. But yes, we're OK with a Common Market if that's what Dave's renegotiation means - but it doesn't!

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    the questions are:

    do we want government that is accountable to and accessible by the electorate?

    how can we protect the individual from the risk of tyranny inherent in all government?

    in a changing world how do we define our 'unit of politics' (polity or state)?

    have we yet begun to address these in westminster?

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    Working Time Directive. ????

    Amazing how MPs get excited about their Rights but us???

    Free movement of Capital also means Free movement of Labour. Its a Free Trade Region

    Tories are split over EEC membership and always have been. Surely by now there is enough measurable evidence to say we should be in or out without it being a matter of personal opinion of a very small club.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    UKIP are the only party who trust the people of this country. They are the onky party who are truly democratic and will ask us our opinion. No wonder the middle class liberal career politicians in London and the middle class liberal BBC give them such a hard time. AND I'm pro european.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    As Mark Twain once said. 'Politicians are like diapers; and need to be changed often, and for much the same reason.' Though this shouldn't give the likes of IDS an excuse to claim expenses for underwear while denying benefits to migrants, who may not be even be claiming them at all!. Tories dislike the EU as they want the UK for their own little petty princedom, with the plebs held firmly down!

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.


    ''...When you join a club you agree to adhere to its rules when signing the contract...''

    But the club has changed its rules. The last time people had a vote it was regarding a trade agreement and free migration wasn't on the agenda. What is wrong with asking the people of the UK whether they still want to remain a member?

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    They may pass a veto, and smugly pat themselves on the back, but that veto will be immediately vetoed in its turn by the E.U., The E.U. decision being then upheld by the British courts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    43. baz "Democracy as we know it" - is a mythical realm presided over by 830 unelected, unremovable 'lords' and 'ladies' and a cabal of very powerful, self-interested aristocrats. The future cannot forever be defined historically by 'World Wars'. Britain should play a full part in Europe and get rid of a system based on odious snobbery and systems of privilege.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Bye-Bye 90 odd Tories and hello 100+ UKIP MP's

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    Many Tory MPs want rid of EU laws that give us protection from the corporates they really represent.
    Now that a majority want to stay in the EU.
    People have noticed that the attacks on ordinary working people are coming from the UK government- and press. Plus the OTT bureaucracy.
    And of course UKIP bankers want rid of EU workers' protection.


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