Van Orden tells MEPs: Farewell – Your EU project just went too far
BRITAIN is not leaving Europe – just the institutions of the European Union.
That was the message from Geoffrey Van Orden CBE, leader of Britain’s Conservative MEPs in his farewell speech to the European Parliament today (Wednesday).
Speaking in the debate on ratification of the withdrawal agreement, he stressed that Britain’s new status was not about rejecting foreigners or about isolation, but about enhancing her relationship with the wider world.
He said: “As a fact of history, culture and geography, Britain will still be a European power, the leading European power in NATO, committed to the security of the democracies of the European continent, sharing many of the standpoints and aspirations of the nations of Europe; an independent, sovereign country with friendly relations with the EU – that’s the aim.
“We are leaving the institutions of the EU, the increasingly intrusive regulations, the politically-driven ambit of the European Court of Justice, and the insatiable appetite for more political integration with its distaste for national sovereignty. That’s the point – we feel the EU project has gone too far.”
He said the advance of the EU juggernaut was sometimes hardly noticed. As national borders were eroded and more and more policy areas became EU competences, so British disenchantment intensified.
The East Of England MEP continued: “Friday will mark the beginning of a new relationship between Britain and the EU. The negotiation this year of a free trade agreement and other arrangements should be seen as an opportunity not as a confrontation. It is in the interests of both the EU and the UK for a good deal, based on precedent, to be concluded in friendship – and by the end of this year.
“On a personal note – I spent 30 years as a British Army officer, and now 20 years representing Britain in the European parliament. I have enjoyed my work here enormously and made many friends across the political spectrum – I say a big thank you to them and to so many officials and personal staff that I have worked with over the years. Thank you and farewell.”