David Cameron has set out how the Conservative Party will deal with the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.
Cameron spoke of his disappointment that the Lisbon Treaty had been ratified without the British people having a say in the referendum that was promised to them, and outlined a way forward to deal with it.
He promised a new "referendum lock" to stop this situation happening again. "If we win the next election, we will amend the European Communities Act 1972 to prohibit, by law, the transfer of power to the EU without a referendum."
As well as making sure that further power cannot be handed to the EU without a referendum, Cameron pledged that a Conservative Government will "introduce a new law, in the form of a United Kingdom Sovereignty Bill, to make it clear that ultimate authority stays in this country, in our Parliament".
Furthermore, as the Lisbon Treaty contains a mechanism to abolish vetoes and transfer power without the need for a new Treaty, he said a Conservative Government would "change the law so that any use of a so-called ratchet clause would require full approval by Parliament".
Cameron went on to say that whilst these policies deal with future problems, there are still "problems we are facing today, which will now be made worse by the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty". These problems, he said, "boil down to the steady and unaccountable intrusion of the European Union into almost every aspect of our lives".
A Conservative Government will address some of these problems by negotiating three specific guarantees over powers that we believe should reside with Britain, not the EU:
- A full opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights (CFR). Tony Blair told us that he had obtained an opt-out from the CFR, but he did not. As Ministers have subsequently admitted, he only obtained a ‘clarification’ as to how it would apply. We want to upgrade this to a full opt-out so that the CFR, which for instance would interfere with our trade union legislation, cannot be made to apply in Britain.
- Greater protection against EU encroachment into the UK’s Criminal Justice System. Lisbon provides us with an ‘opt-in’ over criminal justice matters but we want broader protection provided by an additional protocol. This would protect against EU judges extending their control over our Criminal Justice System, and we also want to ensure that only British authorities can initiate criminal investigations in Britain.
- Restoration of national control over social and employment legislation. Lastly, we want to restore national control over those parts of social and employment legislation which have proved most damaging to the British economy. For instance, we would seek guarantees over the application of the Working Time Directive in our public services, such as the fire service and the NHS.
Cameron concluded by saying the British people want some "straight talk and plain speaking" from their politicians on the issue of Europe. "People are fed up with the endless lies and spin, they just want to know what we can achieve and how", he said.
"What I am promising today is doable, credible, deliverable. That’s what this is all about. Giving the British people a policy on Europe that they can actually believe in."