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Fox: The Government should have the courage to say that the Constitution is dead

Response to Jack Straw’s statement in the House of Commons on the EU Constitution

"What we would like to have seen from the Government today is a little less spin and a little more humility. The idea that the UK achieved all its key objectives in the IGC or "kept our national veto in all key areas of concern" is complete fantasy.

This is a constitution that is bad for Britain and bad for Europe. And it is a constitution now comprehensively rejected by the people of France and the people of the Netherlands.

Yet, the political dinosaurs at the helm in France and Germany and the army of Eurocrats whose careers depend on the gravy train act as though nothing has happened.

What is about "no" they don't understand?

Mr. Speaker, I may no longer practice medicine but I can tell a corpse when I see one - and this is a case for the morgue if ever there was one. This is a dead constitution.

And what is the response of our own government? Is it to be bold, and give a clear direction? No, it is "we see no point in proceeding at this moment." What does that mean? Do they want to proceed at another moment, or soon, or never? What are they waiting for - a lead from the people of Luxembourg?

What it means, Mr. Speaker, is that the niceties of EU diplomatic etiquette are being put before sound reason. It is not the hand of history on the Prime Minister's shoulder but the hand of Peter Mandelson.

This complacent, condescending response could have been faxed from the offices of Barroso or Chirac or Schroeder. "Put your Bill on hold but don't stop the process. Don't rock the boat."

The Foreign Secretary said "it is not for the UK alone to decide the future of the treaty". He is wrong. Rejection by the British people would bring an end to this wretched process.

The loss of the constitution is not a crisis for the people of Europe, it is an opportunity. The crisis is a crisis of leadership. While our government dithers about what to do, there are boardrooms up and down the country trying to make investment decisions who want certainty and clarity - decisions that will affect the jobs and prosperity of real people.

So let the Foreign Secretary give us some clarity.

Will the British Government, at next week's Summit, be pressing for other governments to declare the treaty dead and bring the ratification process to an end? If not, what will our position be?

What will happen to the accession talks during this period of paralysis, and what will be the status of the Bills preparing for the accession of Bulgaria and Rumania?

More importantly, will the Foreign Secretary give the House an assurance that there will be no attempt to introduce any part of this Constitution by the back door, and that any further transfer of power away from the British people will result in a referendum?

And will he give us an assurance that, following the summit next week, the Prime Minister will come to this House and tell us either that the treaty is dead and the ratification process over or tell us that we will have a referendum so that the British people can add their voice to the voices of the Dutch and French in rejecting this dated and dangerous constitution?

Mr. Speaker, Europe is having its' "emperor's new clothes" moment, and the voters have seen through the self- serving agenda of Europe's ruling elite.

We now need to get on with building a different Europe, that works with, not against, the instincts of the nation states - a Europe where sovereign countries cooperate when it is in their mutual interest to do so but retain the freedom to act independently when their national interests require it.

Here in the UK, only a month after the General Election, the centre piece of the Government's foreign policy has been blown apart. This, as the Foreign Secretary pointed out, is the treaty the Prime Minister has already signed. He negotiated it in our name. It was at the centre of his last crusade for a continent.

But we have had eight years of the government calling it wrong on Europe. They were wrong on the Euro - the Prime Minister said "the Euro is not just about our economy but our destiny" - some destiny.

They were wrong on the Social Chapter, wrong to sign away our controls on immigration and asylum and wrong on this Constitution.

My advice to the Foreign Secretary is - have some courage, man, declare this constitution dead.

We should all thank the French and the Dutch for their liberation from the Prime Minister's Constitution.

The game is up for the European political elite.

The people of Europe must be the masters now."

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