Conservative MPs call for UK veto over EU laws


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

Related Stories

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%).


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    In my opinion this is all extraneous, I don't think we will ever be given a referendum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    UK no longer a democracy or indeed a free country. Last time we were conquered was not 1066 as commonly believed, but in 1972 by the Treaty of Rome!

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    The fact that we have to enter into negotiations with Brussels to claim back powers is scandalous in its self,surely we should be telling them what we are and are not going to be doing? Is their not a line in our national anthem about never being slaves? This is England we rule ourselves

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    'disapply the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights'

    It won't be long until our unmanned drones are shooting at us & our nukes are pointed at British cities.....such is the nature of oppression

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    This sounds a very good idea - but surely this is incompatible with being a signatory to all the EU Treaties the UK has already signed up to.
    Surely complaints would be taken to the ECJ who would pass judgements against the UK.
    We've given away great chunks of sovereignty which can only be retrieved by leaving the EU or getting all other EU countries to agree to it (which ain't going to happen).

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.


    The EU is not democratic...


    So just like the UK then.

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    Srawman comments
    We can write our own laws.
    And who do you mean by 'We'? Our minority democratically elected government?

    The current government wants to give big businesses more freedoms at the expense of individual rights.

    London is as irrelevant to me as is Brussels. EU law still has to be passed by Parliament before it applies in the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    And what other treaties and international agreements are these MP's proposing to renege on - and how loud will they bleat when others renege on their treaties with us?

    Or, are they just a bunch of second-raters seeking publicity to bolster their own egos.

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    Utopia coming - UKIP running England (and maybe Wales and Northern Ireland) outside Europe and SNP running Scotland inside Europe with the Euro, having been refused use of Sterling. It this Cameron's actual vision? He should stop co-operating with buffoons like Clegg and Cable, deliver renegotiated EC terms and have 2015 Referendum and offer Scotland more powers BEFORE its Referendum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    The EU is not democratic. Parliament should be reinstated as the supreme legislative body in the UK. Laws that emanate from Brussels should never be implemented unless they have been approved by Parliament. Ultimately, we must leave EU in order to reclaim our sovereignty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    Reading this comments section just shows why Labour doesn't trust the public with having a say on the UK's continuing membership of the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    Loving Nick Clegg's hopelessly out of touch remarks on EU and immigration.

    What part of 'we don't want to be in EU' don't the liberals understand?

    Why can't they accept the vast majority of people want something done about immigration?

    This is the problem with liberal-left politics. They just ignore the public.

    Voting UKIP - don't like with all their policies, but the main ones appeal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    Politicians use the EU/EC/ECHR as convenient punch bags to deflect serious debate about what goes on in the UK. No seriously minded, informed politican wants to leave the EU, but they love playing with fire. How can Cameron trumpet a putative EU/USA trade deal worth billions of pounds and potentially millions of jobs (really?) and in his next breath bang on about an in/out vote?

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    43. baz We didn't fight 2 world wars just to be controlled by a foreign power.

    A survey showed more Brits were worried about our connection to the USA than about the EU.
    More so since Snowden.
    UKIP stand to gain from scrapping EU laws that protect us from their banking/corporate interests,
    They'd like the huge US income gap.
    Just like some Tory MPs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    143. elvi

    But you won`t get a referendum without UKIP.

    Vote in the Euro elections.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    The EU commissioner said the UK “risks losing friends" in another article today. If those “friends” are self-appointed unelected bureaucrats in Brussels telling us we can’t control our borders and UK tax payer’s money can be spent providing foreigners who've paid nothing into our system with free money then good riddance to such “friends” & the political project that allows this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    @119.The J Hoovers Witnesses

    I've no idea what you are babbling about and, of course, you do not give a source for any of your statistics which fly in the face of opinion on here.

    Tell me, why are you so keen for our country to be ruled by foreigners? We used to call it treason.

    Perhaps you are employed by the EU and see the gravy train approaching the terminus?

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    Wouldn't this be illegal under EU law?

    I think that people - politicians especially - should be transparent and logical when they speak about the EU. The Tories stated policy - renegotiating the treaties is NOT on offer and is NOT achievable - therefore not a logical position to take.

    Arguing for fully in is logical.

    Arguing for exit is logical.

    I'm for full political union.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    I prefer the have control taken away from our Eton boys, not given too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    I stopped thinking that politicians would do what is right for the people of this country a long time ago; they will only ever do what is best for them and their party.

    Give us the referendum and let us decide.


Page 26 of 34


More Politics stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.