During yesterday’s debate on the UK’s Relationship with the EU, Bill Cash made the following intervention:
Sir William Cash (Stone) (Con): Of course, for all his fulminations, the Leader of the Opposition voted against the Maastricht treaty. Having said that, how can the Minister justify this pint-sized package as a fundamental change in the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, with real democracy for this Parliament, which represents the voters to whom he has himself just referred? Given that there is no treaty change on offer, what guarantee can my right hon. Friend give that, before the votes are cast in the referendum, this package will be not only legally binding but irreversible, which a decision by Heads of State, as proposed by Mr Tusk in the letter to which my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) has referred, cannot possibly achieve?
Mr Lidington: As I am sure my hon. Friend will be the first to accept, the central document in the set issued by President Tusk today is a draft international law decision by the Heads of State and Government meeting at the European Council. That, if it is agreed, will be binding in international law and it could be revoked or amended only with the agreement of all signatories, including the Government of the United Kingdom, so it is, indeed, legally binding. When my hon. Friend has had the chance to explore the documents in more detail, I hope he will accept that, although people have for years said that we could not get a carve-out from ever-closer union, a mechanism for addressing the issue of access to in-work benefits or safeguards for non-euro countries as the eurozone integrates, significant steps towards achieving those objectives are all in the documents. Just as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister defeated expectations in securing a cut to the EU’s budget, I believe he will defeat some of the more pessimistic expectations of one or two of my hon. Friends.