Hague delights Tories with Europe attack

By Alex Stevenson

William Hague won a standing ovation from Conservative party members after attacking the EU’s “many faults” in his conference speech.

The foreign secretary outlined plans for a sovereignty clause designed to confirm the British parliament’s ability to “undo” its involvement in Europe.

“We will support effective cooperation, not navel gazing. Determined action, not institutional empire building,” Mr Hague told delegates in Birmingham, to applause.

“The EU has many faults. It interferes too much and the Lisbon treaty has left it beset with rivalries in Brussels, as indeed we always warned.”

The sovereignty clause will be inserted into the forthcoming EU bill, which will also provide a ‘referendum lock’ requiring a public vote before more powers are transferred from London to Brussels.

“A sovereignty clause on EU law will place on the statute book this eternal truth: what a sovereign parliament can do, a sovereign parliament can also undo,” Mr Hague said, to applause.

“It will not alter the existing order in relation to EU law. But it will put the matter beyond speculation.”

The foreign secretary used his speech to outline a “distinctive foreign policy” which emphasises relationships with growing global powers like India and China.

“We are conscious that a real foreign policy means something more even than dealing correctly with these problems,” he told delegates.

“It means doing what the last government never stirred itself to do, which means having a distinctive British foreign policy to maintain and advance our influence in the world.”

Although Mr Hague had spoken in favour of Britain’s important links with the US he avoided addressing transatlantic ties in his speech. The only mention of a “special relationship” came in reference to India.

He finished by pledging Britain’s foreign policy would be reenergised under his watch.

“Pursued energetically in the years to come, it will help keep our people and many others successful and safe,” he finished.