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 675.

    Why do the Tories want to disapply the EU agreement that says the EU must respect "the diversity of the cultures and traditions of the peoples of Europe as well as the national identities of the Member States and the organisation of their public authorities at national, regional and local levels"
    could it be they dont know the difference between the EU charter of rights & the ECHR

  • rate this

    Comment number 674.

    Just in time to make use of new prisons being built !

    What next ? New criminal charges for bankrupts and those saddled into debt . . ? A return to Dickensian England and the debtors prison . . and workhouses - which is what working for benefits money essentially is.

    GET OUT while you can !

  • rate this

    Comment number 673.

    653. James Froggatt
    'This is UK democracy versus European totalitarian bureaucracy,
    We have to make sure our democracy wins and that nothing is imposed on us by the unelected fascists in Brussels.'

    Sorry to say things have changed a bit since you last looked, which must have been around 1945.

  • rate this

    Comment number 672.

    @668 "The J Hoovers Witnesses"

    Idiots must, as idiots do... :P

  • rate this

    Comment number 671.

    660. octopus

    See ya!

  • rate this

    Comment number 670.

    would you trust the current bunch we have in any party to set out laws unchecked? Pretty well guarnteed to have laws that prevent protest by the people and manly benefit the the political elite and their friends

  • rate this

    Comment number 669.

    "James Froggatt
    have to make sure our democracy wins and that nothing is imposed on us by the unelected fascists in Brussels"

    It isn't. All EU rules must be approved by the elected EU parliament, national parliaments can demand revisions & the (elected) council of ministers must give final approval. As you mentioned democracy what's your opinion on our House of Lords & hereditary head of state?

  • rate this

    Comment number 668.

    "This country is FINISHED. If you can, move to...Canada"
    So you'd rather put up with a 6 month winter and -40C than have a handful extra of Eastern Europeans in your LA?

    You must have it bad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 667.

    653. Actually, we elect the EU. There's no difference from the UK complaining about EU rules, than Yorkshire complaining about UK rules.

    Be careful who you elect the EU table next time as it will have an effect on the rules that are made.

    Reminder: They ARE elected! ...they're just pretty bad at budgets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 666.

    BBC, The 'survey' refered to in your piece didn't have any reference to who, when or where this was taken?

    So here are a few that are:

  • rate this

    Comment number 665.

    Whatever Tory MP's may say in Parliament is irrelevant because they will obviously be out on their ears after next Election.

    If this unelected misgovernment actually allows the democratic process to take place??

    We all wait with baited breath as to how Tories might try to fiddle their way back in? The last result was a stalemate then a rig up behind the scenes. Cameron failed to get a majority

  • rate this

    Comment number 664.

    I believe one of the European commissioners let the cat out the bag this week & stated the EU aim was a United States of Europe. No way will the UK vote for that so EU should come clean about their aims & we can make arrangements for an amicable parting of ways. This phoney war of words is just wasting time lets have debate & move on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 663.

    623.Perry Pie
    "The real problem comes with minor legislation that is decided in closed committees"
    But that's the same at a national level. Many UK Acts have sections which read "Ministers may make rules etc.", e.g. Town and Country Planning, Land Registration etc.

    When you make the relevant comparisons, there's little we don't already accept.

  • rate this

    Comment number 662.

    Typical of the Conservative Party. Most are inward looking, self centred and above all lack ambition. Never, before have our young people had such an opportunity to reap the fruits of integrated peaceful Europe and carve out a decent life for themselves and everyone else. The only barrier are the grumpy whingers who have such a narrow outlook on life. negativity rules the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 661.

    So the hands of the government are tied when it comes to limiting mass immigration within the EU . . but they have no problems limiting access to the full European justice for UK citizens ? ?

    Cake and eat it time again !

    Can't be about money can it ?

    I mean we're hardly overrun with hook handed terrorists are we ?

    This country is FINISHED. If you can, move to Australia, Canada . . ANYWHERE

  • rate this

    Comment number 660.

    When, or if, the anti-EU nonsense becomes law. I'll leave this nasty country. And that's not an empty threat, I (and many others presumably) really will!

    Idiotic grandstanding of the worst kind.

    A petulant toddler without a guiding hand is either AT risk, or IS a risk....

  • rate this

    Comment number 659.

    I heard the comment from the EU commisioner today and was reminded of the statement "Any fool can spend anothers money" The tone of all these pro EU folk is to talk down to us and the BBC allows this to happen. I wish I was interviewing him, or Mandelson on Friday, it would have been so easy to shreed the case of these unelected people full of their own inflated self importance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 658.

    624. dandaman098

    I am sorry but I disagree we can do something about the corrupt pigs in Westminster but we cannot do anything about the even more corrupt pigs in the EU commission because they are unelected and unaccountable.. We have to get out of the EU to be rid of them and then we can start work reforming Westminster.

  • rate this

    Comment number 657.

    The trouble with Brussels is that it is a law unto itself and will force laws upon us irrespective of what our parliament says, and if it gets its way ours and other countries governments will become nothing more than an area council with all their powers taken away by Brussels and controlled by them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 656.

    I would be interested to know if other EU nations have power of veto, how often used etc. I feel it would have added to the article.

    Think its a decent idea to have power of veto, but don't want it to affect the benefits of being in UK.

    Yes I want to have my cake and eat it.


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