There has been considerable media attention over the letter that 95 Conservative backbenchers have recently sent to David Cameron calling for a national veto over all existing and future EU laws. Bill Cash has signed this letter. There are also six Conservative MPs, including Cabinet members, that although they have not signed it they agreed with the content of the letter. As pointed out by the Daily Telegraph this letter “represents a forceful intervention into the Europe debate, an intervention that signals just how strongly rank-and-file Tories feel about this issue.”
David Cameron has pledged to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU and an in/out referendum but more action is required. The 95 MPs noted the Prime Minister ’s challenge to the existing EU free movement rules, they recalled that David Cameron talked about “the return of Britain’s opt-out from social and employment legislation” as well as “a complete opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights” and “limiting the European Court of Justice’s jurisdiction over criminal law ”. Moreover, they recalled his Bloomberg principle that national parliaments are “the true source of real democratic legitimacy and accountability in the EU.” However, as the letter stresses, there is no clarity about how these objectives would be achieved, which undermines David Cameron and the Conservative Party credibility.
Due to QMV the UK Government has been force to accept EU measures, which it was against in principle. The Government has been either outvoted or forced to accept by consensus EU damaging regulations, against the national interest. The UK Parliament, and the British people, are bypassed and stitched up, as such decisions are binding upon the Westminster Parliament but without MPs having an opportunity to stop them. Presently, Parliament has not power to veto or to repeal existing EU laws, this cannot be allowed to continue.
The European Scrutiny Committee Report, Reforming the European Scrutiny System in the House of Commons, published last December, recommended the introduction of a unilateral veto and disapplication of EU legislation notwithstanding the European Communities Act 1972. According to the ESC ”there should be a mechanism whereby the House of Commons can decide that a particular EU legislative proposal should not apply to the United Kingdom.” The Committee stressed that “now is the time to propose the introduction of a form of national veto over EU legislative proposals”. The Committee also concluded that “parallel provision should be made to enable a decision of the House of Commons to disapply parts of the existing acquis communautaire” which “would require an Act of Parliament to disapply the European Communities Act 1972 in relation to specific EU legislation.”
Hence, the 95 Conservative backbenchers urged David Cameron to support the ESC proposal and “make the idea of a national veto over current and future EU laws a reality”. Moreover, they called on David Cameron to adopt the ESC’s idea of enabling “Parliament to disapply EU legislation, where it is in our vital national interests to do so”, as this would allow “the Government, for example, 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 (which is set impose enormous costs on British business and taxpayers) in popular and sensible ways.” The MPs stressed that “This would transform the UK’s negotiating position in the EU.”
It is important to recall that Bill Cash’s Sovereignty of Parliament Bill would introduce a unilateral veto over EU legislative proposals and includes clauses on disapplication that will enable Parliament to disapply legally binding European Union measures.
According to William Hague ‘If national parliaments were unilaterally just able to choose which bits of EU law they would apply and which bits they wouldn’t, the European single market wouldn’t work. We have to be realistic.’ However, the current relationship with the European Union, including the Single Market, does not work in the UK national interests. Chris Grayling also said “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.”
As Bill Cash has been saying if Westminster, as a national Parliament, says that it does not want a measure, we should not then be obliged to say yes to it, just because we do not reach a certain threshold when other member states say they want the measure. The Sovereignty of Parliament must be reasserted.
Bill Cash believes that the real problem lies within the existing EU treaties which, therefore, must be renegotiated. David Cameron must get rid of the existing treaties and renegotiate a relationship based on co-operation and trade.