Ur The Times May 27 1997-05-27

Amsterdam is the end of Britain

Sign this treaty and we abolish our country, says John Redwood

If we sign the present draft of the Amsterdam treaty, we will abolish our country. The draft treaty is by far the most ambitious document yet to emerge from the Brussels administration so far.

It plans to set up what Chancellor Kohl has called a "political as well as a monetary" Union. Anyone else would call it a new country. The new treaty is based on a strong legal structure, giving to the centre all the principal powers that used to reside in Europe's democratic national parliaments.

It turns on the British idea of subsidiarity, making clear that the European Union will enjoy all the "means necessary to attain its objectives and carry through its policies". The Court of Justice rules supreme. Under this treaty, there would be no doubt that it could overturn Acts of Parliament and be the ultimate lawmaker. It will interpret the needs of the European Union and see that they are enforced.

You cannot have a Europe of nations and this version of the Court. The new Union would even have the right to take Britain's votes away in the Council of Ministers. At the moment we have the right to vote against proposals we do not like and the right to veto the most important. We are told that the Union is "founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law". It does not have the grandeur of Jeffersonian prose, but it is as ambitious as the American Declaration of Independence in its scope.

We are told that these rights are reflected in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. If the other members think we are in breach of any of these rights or freedoms, we will lose our votes and our veto in the Council. Incorporating the Convention into British law will require changes to our law codes anyway, but will not exempt us from further legal action claiming we have broken the letter or the spirit of the Union's purposes.

Some will say there is no threat in this because Britain would never want to break those principles. We are a democratic and a fair-minded state. Yet in recent years we have been found in breach of the Convention several times: it might be the Government's anti-terrorism measures, or some technicality over equal opportunities that other countries could use as an excuse to take our votes away. Then they could pass measures that we did not like.

The EU already has a chain of embassies around the world. Now it is to have a foreign policy for them. Sign this treaty, and we will have to obey the general view in our relations with any other overseas country. The treaty says that the common policy must cover "all areas of foreign and security policy". It goes on to insist: "The member states shall support the Union's external and security policy actively and unreservedly in the spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity."

The overseas territories of member states will be brought under the general guidance of EU policy. The Falkland Islands may not go to Argentina, but they would come under Spain and other continental countries. The United Kingdom would for the time being keep its seat on the UN Security Council, but we could only use it to put forward the agreed European, not the British, policy on any international crisis.

We would be on the way to establishing a European army, and to seeing our troops committed to action even where Britain had reservations about the wisdom of such a course. The Government seems only to have latched on to the plan to take away our right to a separate immigration and borders policy. The treaty would require us to follow a common European policy on visas and on who we would allow into our region of the new Europe. All this will be decided by qualified majority vote. Britain would lose all the advantages of our island status. We would no longer have our own policy, policed at our own points of entry.

The treaty takes criminal laws, policing and justice matters under its wing. The first steps are taken towards a European police force. Our criminal law comes under the Court of Justice, and we would have to move our law codes into line with the others.

Meanwhile Gordon Brown is busily making what is left of the Bank of England independent, preparing to make it into a wholly-owned subsidiary of the European Bank.

It will not be long before he rams the Stability Pact through the Commons, placing our economy under continental control.

The treaty takes wide-ranging powers in many other areas. It strengthens the control of the EU in consumer protection, public health, the environment, social policy, employment, transport, regional policy and statistics. In short, it gives to the Union all of the power usually associated with a government.

It is high time Parliament and public woke up to these issues. The election gave Tony Blair a big mandate to run this country, but it gave him no mandate to give it away.

So worried was he by the sceptical views of many voters that he signed an article in The Sun about how he would defend Britain. His party wrapped itself in the Union Jack and adopted the bulldog as its symbol. Mr Blair must now live up to those fine words.

We have need of a Government which will explain all this honestly to the British people, and then explain to our partners that we cannot sign up to a single word of the Amsterdam treaty.

This is a federal treaty. It is the last main treaty they need to take our country away.

Sign this, and we will no longer have a powerful British democracy capable of righting our wrongs and representing our interests.

The author is MP for Wokingham and a candidate in the election for the leadership of the Conservative Party.