Speaking at a Labour conference fringe meeting in 2007, the veteran left-winger made an inflamed plea to Gordon Brown to give the British people a referendum on the EU Lisbon treaty. The plea swiftly turned into a scathing attack on the bloc and the former Labour MP passionately argued for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. 11 years later, Theresa May is facing rebellion over her Brexit deal as many argue the views of the 52% who historically voted to leave the European Union in June 2016 are being betrayed with a soft exit.
It appears that Mr Benn was all too aware of the EU’s failings and somewhat foresaw Brexit.
In his speech, the Labour MP highlighted an alleged democratic deficit in the institution while recalling his time spent with the Council of Ministers.
He said: “I was on the Council of Ministers and that was the most shattering experience of my life.
“I was a representative of Britain and for six months I was the President of the Council of Energy Ministers.
“I wasn’t allowed to submit a document.
“Only the Commission, for bureaucrats, could submit a document.
“I could say yes or no, [it was] sort of constitutional monarchy if you like.
“They met in secret and made laws for Britain.
“When I suggested we met in public they nearly strangled me because all their dirty little deals would have come out.”
Mr Benn, who campaigned in favour of a referendum on the UK’s membership for most of his life, also claimed in his 2007 speech that the block was the “most bureaucratic, terrifying system in the world”.
He argued it was being imposed on British people “on the grounds its tidying-up”.
He added: ”If tidying up involves tearing up the British constitution, it’s a very interesting definition.”
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