Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson), who served with me on the Brexit Committee in the previous Parliament and had great insight and passion for this cause. He is absolutely right in saying that the Government were warned about the dangers involved in the Irish protocol. Indeed, many members of the Committee pointed that out, but he was foremost among them.
Having listened to the Prime Minister’s cogent analysis of where we are, I can see why we have this Bill before us, because what he really said is that the EU is not complying with its duty under EU law of sincere co-operation, which it still has until the end of December. By not sincerely co-operating, it is forcing the Government to anticipate what ghastly things might happen. They are very wise so to do, because of course the European Union has form in all this. As Charles Moore said in a recent article in The Daily Telegraph:
“The breaking of international law is a sport at which the EU itself often excels.”
I want to remind the House of an episode not referred to in Charles Moore’s article but based on my experience when I was chairman of the Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Members will recall that the European Union agreed under article 6(2) of the treaty of Lisbon that it would accede to the European convention on human rights. Has it done so? No, it has not. It is in breach of international law. It is showing that it does not respect the rule of law. What is its defence? Its defence is its own interpretation of an obscure protocol attached to the Lisbon treaty—protocol No. 8. The European Union’s interpretation is not the interpretation that normal people would put on those words, but it got the support of the European Court of Justice—its own tame Court of Justice—to say that it would be incompatible with the European treaties for the European Union to accede to the European convention on human rights, which it had already decided to do during a prolonged negotiation in the preparation for the treaty.
Where are we now? We are in a situation where the Council of Europe’s parliamentary committee, the Council of Europe itself, and the European Parliament are trying to negotiate a way round this issue. In so doing, they are trying to exercise common sense and good will, because they recognise that the EU argument is essentially one of sovereignty. The EU is saying, “We do not want to subordinate our sovereignty to the European convention on human rights.” The argument in the Bill is that if the EU carries out all its threats, it will destroy the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom and deprive us of the opportunity to administer for the whole United Kingdom with internal trade arrangements. If one is sympathetic to the idea that we should negotiate things with common sense and good will, that applies to the EU accession to the European convention on human rights, as well as to where we go from here to ensure that we get the full Brexit for which the people voted.