European Council

Nick Herbert (Arundel and South Downs) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that when this country, in our national interest, makes an international agreement of any kind, it may involve a loss of sovereignty? That may be the case through any trade deal, through trading under World Trade Organisation rules and on the single most important decision this House of Commons could take: whether or not to engage in military action. We are treaty-bound by NATO, under article 5, to go to the defence of a fellow member that is under armed attack—that obliges us. In that sense, we have lost sovereignty because we believe it is in the interests of the country to enter that agreement and that it has made us safer. If the claim of “sovereignty” and its loss were the trump card, would not all those international agreements have to be torn up?

The Prime Minister: My right hon. Friend makes an important point: if your only determination was never to cede any technical sovereignty, you would never join any of these organisations, you would not do a trade deal and you probably would not be a member of the UN, the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank. Therefore, the question really is: what maximises our power, influence and ability to get things done? As the Transport Secretary put it so brilliantly at the Cabinet meeting, “I would love to live in utopia but I expect the EU would probably be there, too.” That is to say, you do not abolish the EU by leaving it; you simply cut yourself off from something and therefore possibly make yourself, in many ways, less powerful, rather than more powerful.


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To watch Nick's intervention go to:  Nick speaks at 17:16:04.

Alexander BlackBrexit, EU, Europe