On Monday, Owen Paterson made a remarkable speech, An Optimistic Vision of a Post-EU United Kingdom:
I would like to see our Government brought back within the control of our own Parliament. Ministers should be properly accountable to Parliament for all aspects of Government. This would give the British people the ability to remove their real rulers by voting. Our politics would be reinvigorated. I find it extraordinary that many in our establishment mock this prospect. As a nation we are second to none in so many spheres of human activity. Our universities, scientific research, medicine, arts, music, literature and sports lead the world. Why do we doubt our ability to represent ourselves on the world stage?
There is too little discussion on how we should engineer an orderly transition from our position as a half-hearted member of the EU to a confident, independent member of the global community.
Owen’s plan is to force the EU to enter into negotiations for our departure using article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the only legal mechanism by which a country can leave the EU. After negotiations with this strong mandate, the public would have the choice between an independent country with a trading relationship or full political integration with the nation of Europe.
The speech is remarkable for two reasons. First, because an ex-member of the Cabinet has called to leave the EU. Second, because Owen clearly acknowledges the power of the global regulators above the EU at UN level, such as the UNECE.
However, I cannot imagine this proposal to leave the EU will make it to our manifesto. Today, the Prime Minister will make a speech on immigration. It remains to be seen whether those proposals can survive our membership of the EU on current terms or whether they will satisfy the British people.
It is time to govern the UK from Parliament on a wider range of issues. We should start by asserting Parliament’s sovereign rights and requiring the EU to adjust.