Thursday, November 05, 2009

Europe debate comes to Eltham

Eltham residents had something of an exclusive preview of the current debate on Europe when Shadow Europe Minister Mark Francois came to address a public meeting at St Luke's Church Hall (just a few doors down from my flat, conveniently!).

Mark began by apologising for the fact he couldn't at that time reveal what the Party's plans were should the Lisbon Treaty be ratified - something which David Cameron has now set out in detail with his speech yesterday. However, the debate was actually much wider than the issue of Lisbon, and a wide range of people - not just Conservative supporters - were able to have their say on the question of the UK's relationship with the EU. Mark gave very frank answers, and the event became a proper town hall-style debate.

The prevailing view was that we have given up too much power to the EU, without being asked about it. That is a point which David Cameron's pledge for a legal "Referendum lock" yesterday directly addressed. Despite Labour's attempts to turn the tables, the fact remains that it was Tony Blair and Gordon Brown who promised a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, then broke their word.

If we had a Conservative Government, Lisbon would not have become law without the British People's consent. Now that it has become law, we have to ensure the British people can never be treated with such contempt again, as well as negotiating to return key powers from Brussels to Westminster. That is the sensible and bold approach which David Cameron has now laid out, and I hope that is a message which resonates with those Eltham residents who spoke up last week.

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