A week last Thursday, June 7th, a press release went out entitled "Conservative European Leader attacks the Government for not being straight with the British people", referring to a debate in the European Parliament that day.
Timothy Kirkhope, Leader of the Conservative MEPs, was quoted describing three false pretexts used in the debate on the Constitution. He said the first of which, that the French and the Dutch rejected the Constitution for reasons unconnected to the constition, was a delusion.
However, his actual speech to Parliament was far tamer than the press release reported. He merely said he hoped the Constitution wouldn’t be pushed through regardless of concerns, before going on to praise Angela Merkel for her interest in climate change.
In stark contrast, Roger Helmer spoke shortly before Kirkhope, describing attempts to resurrect the Constitution as "a vast contempt for democracy and for European citizens", using "deceitful and dishonourable" methods. He also said Merkel should be ashamed for being "downright dishonest".
Continue reading this post to see Kirkhope’s short speech and the subsequent press release in full.
This is a direct copy of what he said in Parliament, from the EU’s version of Hansard:
"Mr President, you cannot choose those speakers that appear close to you
on the board in these debates, but let me just keep to my text.
My text voices concern, as vou might expect, that the Council meeting,
which is a vital one, should not devote all its attention to the issue
of the Constitution. I and my colleagues do not believe that a
Constitution as such is necessary or that there is a massive crisis in
Europe at this time that requires it. We hope that a solution will be
found which does not require the Constitution to be pushed through
regardless, following the views expressed by the people of France and
the Netherlands. We hope that the Laeken Summit and what it stood for –
which was to make the EU more transparent and less intrusive in the
lives of our peoples – will be the basis of whatever comes out of that
very important summit.
But I want to say how pleased I am that the Chancellor of Germany has
taken such an interest in the issue of climate change and the need for
us to work in a cooperative fashion to try to find solutions to global
warming and, indeed, the global poverty which arises as a result of
those changes. She shares with my party leader, David Cameron, a firm
commitment to tackling one of the gravest challenges facing mankind
today. It is in relation to that kind of that kind of hard policy that
we all feel that there is a massive urgency and priority and that we
can all work together in the right way. We can work together in a way
that actually enhances the EU in the minds of the people rather than
making them suspicious of its intentions for their future."
This is the press release that went out about what he said, from the Party’s press office in the European Parliament:
"In a debate today in the European Parliament
on the EU Constitution, Timothy Kirkhope MEP, Leader of the
Conservatives in the European Parliament, attacked the British
Government for not being straight being with the British people. He said:
"The debate on the Constitution is taking place on three
false pretexts. The first is that the people of France and the
Netherlands voted "no" for reasons unconnected to the Constitution.
This is a delusion. The second is that by simply calling the
Constitution by another name while leaving the substance basically
intact will deal with the problem. The third is that the EU is
currently in a crisis of decision-making. On all three counts, I
If the intention of some Member States is to bring back the
substance of the Constitution with a few presentational tweaks and then
rush it through without proper public debate, people will rightly
conclude that the EU has learned nothing from the "no" votes – and the
alienation factor between the people and the EU will merely intensify.
In the United Kingdom, the Government is doing nothing to explain
its position to the people. This may be, of course, because the
Government is paralysed as it waits for Mr Blair to depart and Mr Brown
to succeed him. The truth is that the Government has adopted so many
positions on the Constitution that the British people have no idea what
it believes. He added:
"Mr Blair used to be against a Constitution, then he said one
was vital. Mr Blair said there was no need for a referendum – then he
said it was vital to have one. Now, the Government dares not utter the
word. Some Ministers have said they will defend the veto in justice
matters, some have said they will wait and see – while Labour MEPs are
all for it. The people of Britain deserve clarity from their government
and they are not getting it."