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Last Updated: Friday, 29 October 2004, 12:40 GMT 13:40 UK
Roger Knapman on the EU constitution
As Europe's leaders gathered in Rome to sign the new EU constitution seven politicians and business leaders gave their thoughts on what it could mean for Britain.

Charles Kennedy
Lib Dem leader

Jack Straw
Foreign Secretary

Caroline Lucas
Green Party MEP

Michael Ancram
Shadow foreign secretary

Roger Knapman
UKIP leader

Lord Haskins
Businessman and Labour adviser

Paul Sykes
Businessman and
Tory supporter

Roger Knapman

Roger Knapman
Mr Knapman's party wants Britain out of the EU
The very name of our party gives a clue to our objections to the European constitution: it would erode our independence by supplanting our own constitution.

The origins of the British constitution stretch back a thousand years and the result has been honed by years of debate and adaptation to changing circumstances.

It is not perfect - nothing abstract contrived by man ever is - but having had its teething problems sorted out it must be better than something contrived from scratch whose precise meaning is subject to different interpretations during translation.

Successive Labour and Conservative governments have signed away British rights to the EU for many years now, but none has gone so far as this: signing away the right of the British people to self-government.

Our country has granted, or fought for, self-determination for more countries than any other.

Belgium is a good example which was established and guaranteed its independence by Britain and France under a treaty of 1839.

The violation of its independence in 1914 was what brought Britain into the First World War.

Poorly thought out?

How bitterly ironic it would be to hand over Britain's own self determination to an unaccountable institution only eight miles from Waterloo!

Of course no British government has managed to bring any powers back from Brussels, because under the acquis communitaire this is not possible.

But all that has been previously signed away pales into insignificance alongside what must be the most poorly thought out constitution of all time.

A constitution is supposed to be politically neutral, setting out the powers of the state and its relation to its citizens.

Golf club?

This constitution most decidedly is not, with its commitments to full employment, price stability, a social market economy and its promotion of scientific and technological advance.

Laudable as these aims may be, they are political objectives which serve to constrain within tight bounds the future direction of the European Union. What happens when these constitutional aims conflict?

The simple truth is that the British electorate is being lied to once again by the professional politicians.

Jack Straw suggested that the EU constitution is no more important than the constitution of a golf club, and yet what a golf club that would be, complete with its own army, police force, judiciary, parliament, currency, foreign minister and diplomatic service!

We should most emphatically not sign this constitution.

Aggressive expansion?

It fundamentally erodes still further the sovereignty of the United Kingdom, and sets a dangerous precedent for the future.

It extends EU competencies, and does so in such an imprecise way that it is almost impossible to quantify the long-term effects.

It allows the European Union a role in domestic education and health care, and as we have seen in the past, once it has a foothold in specific policy areas, it aggressively expands its influence until national parliaments are left with nothing.

For any who doubt that, look at the economic catastrophe which is the eurozone, or the destruction of fisheries and agriculture wrought by those common policies areas.

Withdrawal call

The truth is straightforward.

Great Britain does not need a European constitution which reverses the legal rights and privileges of British citizens, and never will do.

Defeat of the constitution in a referendum will at best merely slow the rush towards the creation of a United States of Europe: we have seen just this week the commission attempting to circumvent democratic rejection of the constitution by implementing its proposals on immigration, justice and home affairs before it is even signed, let alone ratified.

There is only one way to safeguard the sovereignty of the British people, and that is for us to withdraw from the European Union.

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