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Stevenson: A common market, not a common country

Speech to Scottish Conservative Party Conference, Dundee

"What a great team!

We are very fortunate to have such a highly respected figure as John Purvis representing Scotland's interests in Brussels.

With a special effort we can get Cameron Buchanan elected next month too.

Well, Tony Blair is really tying himself in knots over Europe. His u-turn on the referendum was born out of panic rather than principle.

He has invested a lot of personal political capital in this issue. He cannot afford to lose. To do so would certainly cost him his job.

That's one good reason why we must win.

But never underestimate the determination of a dishonest man! Tony wants his place in history.

He has wrecked the British Constitution.

Now he wants to replace it with a European one.

Let me give you a nightmare scenario. Just imagine Labour wins a third consecutive general election next spring.

Tony Blair would then throw all the resources of government into winning a YES vote in the referendum in the autumn.

And he would time it to coincide with Britain's turn at the rotating presidency of the EU. The blue flags with yellow stars would be fluttering across the UK.

Europe's leaders would be beating a path to our door.

And if, by some miracle, he did win a YES vote, even by a tiny minority, the new EU Constitution would be born.

Blair would be hailed as a conquering hero across the EU. He would hand over the reigns of power to Gordon Brown and put himself up as candidate to be the new President of Europe for 5 years.

What a chilling thought. Brown in London and Blair in Brussels. There's another two reasons why we can't let it happen.

But we can stop him in his tracks. If we win the next General Election we will derail his crafty plans.

And that is why these European elections are a vital springboard for our success.

A victory in June will point the way towards a victory in the General Election.

And a victory for Michael Howard at the General Election will ensure the people of Britain are told the truth about the EU constitution so that they can make an informed choice in any referendum.

Because it is a Constitution which will change the whole nature of our relationship with Europe.

Our policy is very clear on the Constitution. WE'RE AGAINST IT and we will campaign for a NO vote in any referendum.

Because it will overturn the basis on which Britain has been governed for centuries.

Article 10 of the draft Constitution makes clear that EU law will have precedence over the laws and customs of Member States.

It will hand control from Westminster and Holyrood to Brussels.

The UK and Scottish Governments will only be able to tinker at the edges on policy decisions affecting every man, woman and child in Scotland.

That's not what voters elect their politicians to do.

The proposed Constitution will create a European President and a European Foreign Minister, who will both hold office for 5 years.

There will be an EU Public Prosecutor with power over significant aspects of UK criminal law.

The Constitution will provide the enlarged EU with a single legal personality, allowing the new EU Foreign Minister to sign Treaties without having to go back to national parliaments for their agreement.

Article 15 says that Member States shall "actively and unreservedly support the Union's common foreign and security policy in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity."

When was the last time you saw loyalty and mutual solidarity in the EU?

The Constitution says "A European law….shall lay down measures for the harmonisation of…..turnover taxes, excise duties and other forms of indirect taxation….."

EU officials have confirmed that this certainly includes the harmonisation of capital gains taxes.

And believe me, if CGT is covered, corporate taxes will be too.


If introduced as planned, the Constitution will mean Britain giving up 32 different vetoes.

It would even incorporate a Charter of Fundamental Rights, which will give every citizen of Europe the constitutional right to strike and to bargain collectively.

Frighteningly, it also contains an Energy Chapter, which passes control of energy resources to Brussels.

75% of EU oil and gas is in UK waters, so this will constitute a major coup for the EU, effectively seizing control of our rich oil fields in the same way as they seized our fishing grounds.

In each of these areas we will hand over responsibility to Brussels. Westminster and Holyrood would no longer have a say.

This new Constitution will also be irreversible. Once Britain signs up to it we can't change it back again.

That's why the German Government called it "worthy of the word historic."

And the French Government called it "The setting up of a new political age."

And the Spanish Government says it is "A legal revolution without precedent."

And the Belgian government called it "The capstone of a federal state."

But the British Government called it "A tidying up exercise"!

It's some tidying up exercise!

It will set us firmly on the path to a United States of Europe. What else can we call an entity with a population of 450 million, with its own currency, central bank, flag, anthem, army, Public Prosecutor, Supreme Court, Parliament, President, Foreign Minister, Embassies and - now - Constitution?

Let me assure you, whatever else the EU may be, it is not a parliamentary democracy.

It is a vast bureaucracy.

Brussels is now responsible for 60 per cent of the laws and regulations we live under in Britain.

Red tape has added £30 billion costs to British business since Labour came to power, £9 billion in the last year alone! Most of it emanates from Brussels.

Since I became an MEP in 1999, the EU has decided how long we are allowed to work, how long we can spend at our lunch-break, how many vitamins we can swallow, how long we can sit on a tractor, what kind of ladders we can climb and now, unbelievably, they are even looking at a regulation to standardise rocking horses.

They even want a standardised European yoghurt! Pasteurised. Sanitised. Homogenisd and no doubt lactically correct!

Do you know that under new health & safety regulations we must now place a sign at the top of mountains in Scotland warning people of the danger of heights!

That is why the next Conservative government will make a bonfire of European controls and we shall cut away the red tape.

We shall argue the case that the British economy flourishes from its lack of regulation, despite Gordon Brown's best efforts to create more, and the European economy would do well to copy us.

We shall not be bound by rules sure to damage us as they have damaged others.

The theory behind the reforms now being proposed is that the European bureaucracy should become even more powerful.

This is offensive to our traditions of parliamentary democracy. It is also destructive to the desire of the British people to take more decisions for themselves.

Britain is in Europe and Britain should stay in Europe, but it has to be a Europe that suits our needs as a country.

That is why we oppose this Constitution.

We don't want a President of Europe.

We don't want a Foreign Minister for Europe.

We don't want to give away any more power to Brussels.

And we don't want to be part of a centralised European superstate.

Just look what they did to the British fishing industry.

That is why the Conservatives have promised to repatriate control of our fisheries sector to the UK. A promise that Michael Howard re-affirmed here, yesterday in Dundee.

We will have nothing more to do with any common policy but will bring back control of the fishing sector to the fishermen, the processors and scientists themselves - the people with a key stake in the industry.

The SNP too are recent converts to this policy. But Scottish fishermen can see through their empty rhetoric. We know it's a fig leaf to cover their love affair with Europe.

And they want us to believe we can trust Tony Blair on fishing? We know you can't trust Tony Blair on anything.

The SNP cannot deliver repatriation. In fact they can't deliver anything these days.

Only a Conservative government at Westminster can pull the UK out of the CFP.

The only way to get the kind of Europe we want, a Europe where the people come first and the bureaucrats last, is to stand up for the principle that it has to be a Europe of nation states, not a nation called Europe.

Europe should get back to what it was meant to be. A COMMON MARKET, not A COMMON COUNTRY.

The best way to do this is create a dynamic European economy, pulling down the barriers to trade in the single market to create a prosperous society, which will maintain and create jobs.

We want a flexible Europe of enterprise, affluence and open government. That is the way to win the loyalty and commitment of the European peoples.

That means we must seek every opportunity to maintain the British way of doing things, to defend our freedom and independence.

We have a great opportunity at the European elections. We must send a powerful message. We cannot fail. To do so would lay the foundations for a centralised European superstate, where power will be transferred forever from the people to the bureaucrats.

It would mark the end of our parliamentary democracy.

But it can be stopped.

And it can best be stopped by sending a message from Scotland and from the whole of Britain that we reject Mr Blair's vision of Europe.

We will not allow it to be constructed against our will and over our heads.

A vote for the Conservative Party on 10th June will be a vote for British freedom and British independence inside a Europe of free and freely trading nation states.

This will be the message of the Conservative Party.

This will be the message that drives our campaign for victory in the European elections.

Let us work together for that victory. Britain's future and Scotland's future depends on it."

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