CCHQ #EUDebate

Welcome to The Backbencher’s live-blog from the House of Commons debate of Douglas Carswell’s Private Member’s bill for the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972, whose effect, if passed, would be to bring about the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The subject of Carswell’s bill was chosen in a poll of thousands of readers on the Guido Fawkes website, and means that the House – at last – gets to debate whether the UK should leave the EU.

We’ll be live-blogging the debate from just prior to its start, expected to be soon after, courtesy of The Backbencher contributing author Michael St George.  Follow the debate summary and comment here, or on Twitter, either via Michael at @A_Liberty_Rebel or via @Backbencher


And here we go with The Backbencher’s House of Commons EU Debate live-blog. For shorter updates, follow either @A_Liberty_Rebel or @Backbencher on Twitter, where we’ll be using the #EUDebate hashtag.

The possibility of the Commons passing a bill to, in effect, withdraw the UK from the EU has worried the Government and CCHQ to such an extent that they’ve circulated all MPs with a list of “helpful” questions to ask during the debate. “Helpful”, that is, only to the Government’s desire to avoid the issue at all costs.

Backbencher contributing author Michael St George speculated earlier on what the correct answers to those “helpful” questions might be, as opposed to the likely answers. It’ll be instructive to see how they compare.



Carswell moving his Bill. Points out that EU-sceptism now not merely widespread in country, but also reaches to higher echelons of Cabinet. Mianstream view in country


Carswell highlighting inexorable reduction in proportion of UK trade taking place with EU, as other emerging markets experience substantial growth, China is creating new economy same size of Greece every 3 weeks


Considerably less than half of all UK economic activity involves trade with the EU, yet onerous EU regulations cover every sphere of economic activity. Switzerland’s net benefit from EU trade demonstrably exceeds that of EU, yet it does not require EU membership


Leaving the EU would be simple, achieved via a single Act of Parliament.  But that would not mean the automatic abolition of all measures under we wish to apply those EU standards with which we agree, and there are appropriate ways of doing this


Edward Leigh stresses that no-one can deny that, whatever one’s view on the UK’s membership of the EU, the EU suffers from a serious democratic deficit.  Its core members look as thought they’re moving determinedly towards closer economic and monetary union, and this will have a dramatic effect on our relationship with it. There must therefore be a referendum.


Leigh: it’s perfectly possible  for the UK to devise a relationship with the EU whereby we retain the trading benefits, but re-acquire the exclusive right to make our own laws. This is the most pressing issue of our time, and the Government can no longer avoid it.


Steve Baker: the type of social-democratic utopian supranationalism exemplified by the EU has run its course. The economic and financial crises have exposed its limitations, and the future will require that states devise and move to other ways of ordering their affairs


Philip Holobone: no-one under the age of 55 in this country has ever been given the opportunity to vote on Britain’s membership of the EU: and what they voted on was a common market, not the EU as it has developed and now is. What is now just around the corner is undoubtedly a United States of Europe, and the majority of my constituents do not want what we have now, never mind a USE.


Holobone: the EU Common Fisheries Policy has decimated Britain’s fishing industry. And as a nation we simply cannot cope with the uncontrolled wave of immigration coming to our shores, likely to get even larger with the economic collapses in southern Europe


Holobone: not only does the EU present us with an horrendous membership fee annually, but all our small businesses face a never-ending tide of business-unfriendly regulation and bureaucracy


FCO Minister Lidington: alleges Bill is mere proxy for debate about UK’s EU membership: that derives not from “some mythical conspiracy” by FCO mandarins, but from hard-headed assessment by ministers that despite drawbacks, membership is in Britain’s interests because of the trade advantages it gives. The lion’s share of our trade will continue to come from Europe


Debate adjourned


H/T to @GraemeWearden “And so Douglas Carswell’s Bill lives to fight another day: 1st  March 2013”


FCO Minister David Lidington’s assertion that “lion’s share of our trade will continue to come from Europe” looks increasingly untrue. Not only is the EU’s share of global GDP and trade set to continue falling – down to 16% according to some estimates – but it forms a declining proportion of the UK’s overseas trade, a trend which looks set to continue as our trade with non-EU and emerging markets accelarates.

Even the share of UK trade attributed to the EU is regularly over-stated in official statistics: via, firstly, the Antwerp/Rotterdam effect, by which the value of goods exported to non-EU markets but transiting through those ports is counted as EU trade, and the Netherlands Distortion, which reflects internal accounting transactions undertaken by firms with either subsidiaries or holding companies in Holland for tax purposes. The resumption of debate on 1st March 2013 will need updated true figures for our EU trade.



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