22nd Oct 2016

UK parliament should have right to veto EU laws, MPs say

  • The House of Commons should be able to veto EU laws, according to 95 backbench Conservative MPs (Photo: @Doug88888)

The UK parliament should have the right to throw out EU laws, according to a letter from Conservative MPs to Prime Minister David Cameron.

In the letter, made public on Sunday (12 January), 95 Conservatives (out of a total of 225) stated that the House of Commons should be able to block new EU legislation and repeal existing measures that threaten Britain's "national interests".

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A national parliament veto power would allow the UK to "recover control over our borders, to lift EU burdens on business, to regain control over energy policy and to disapply the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights".

The idea was quickly dismissed by ministers.

"I don't think it's realistic (that)... any one parliament can veto laws across the European Union," Justice Minister Chris Grayling told the BBC in an interview Sunday.

He added: "We have got to have a system that's viable. I'm not convinced we can have a system where one parliament can veto European legislation."

However, the UK government has already indicated that it would like to reduce the threshold required to trigger the 'yellow card' procedure which gives national parliaments the power to send legislative proposals back to the European Commission.

Under the Lisbon treaty, if one third or more national parliaments object to a new EU proposal within an eight-week window, then the Commission has to reconsider the proposal.

The procedure has been used twice since the Lisbon Treaty came into force in 2010.

The fresh row comes after legislation guaranteeing a UK referendum on EU membership in 2017 came under scrutiny in the House of Lords on Friday (10 January).

Liberal Democrat peers are expected to join forces with Labour to scupper the bill by tabling and adopting a series of amendments that would send it back to the Commons.

Peers are also likely to propose changes to the wording of the referendum question so that it would ask whether Britain should "remain" in the EU.

Although the unelected Lords cannot veto the bill, it could delay its progress by one year, bringing it close to the next general election, scheduled for May 2015.

Michael Dobbs, the Conservative peer piloting the bill, said that it was "not about being anti-European or pro-European; it is about allowing people to decide their own future. It will be a brave man who denies them that choice, and an even braver unelected peer."

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