Lib Dem Euro walk-out: Ed Davey writes…

by Stephen Tall on February 27, 2008

Lib Dem shadow foreign secretary Ed Davey has penned an article for The Independent’s Open House blog explaining why he ended up being sent out of the Commons, and why the rest of the parliamentary party followed him. You can read it in full here, but here’s an excerpt:

At the last election, all three parties stood on manifestos that included a pledge for a vote on the then Constitutional Treaty, a Treaty that was truly historic, replacing all the past Treaties, from Rome to Maastricht and Nice, with one new EU Constitution. Difficult to deny this was a matter worthy of a referendum – not least because it would give the people a chance to vote on the most integrationist measures passed since we joined the European Community, namely the Single European Act and Maastricht, measures on which the Conservatives denied the country votes.

The debate in Parliament is whether a referendum on the much more modest Lisbon Treaty is the right way to honour that pledge – the Conservative position – or whether a referendum on Britain’s membership is the better way – the Liberal Democrat position. Or, I guess, whether the case for a referendum has now gone away totally – Labour’s position. So there’s a real choice between the three parties.

In brief, the argument for our position is best summed up ironically by William Hague, when he said about the Constitutional Treaty “the fact that it was a Constitution, not simply a treaty, would have revolutionised the EU.” Indeed, our leader at the last election, Charles Kennedy, said of our pledge, “It’s time for this debate – time for us to decide what we actually want from Europe. I believe, once the argument has been joined, the consensus will be that it’s better to be in than out.”

I think I might quibble with Ed’s opening sentence, mind:

Yesterday, much to my surprise, I found myself being dismissed from the Chamber of the Commons by the Deputy Speaker.”

Come on, Ed – I don’t think you can have been that surprised :)