Robin Cook takes on the Eurosceptics

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Indy Politics

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook today accused Eurosceptics of betraying their country, saying true patriots are fighting to secure Britain a leading place in the European Union.

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook today accused Eurosceptics of betraying their country, saying true patriots are fighting to secure Britain a leading place in the European Union.

"It is patriotism, it is national self-interest, to argue for Britain's full engagement as a leading partner in Europe," Cook said in a speech at the Center for European Reform.

"It is a betrayal of our nation and our future constantly to obstruct every fresh opportunity for co-operation in Europe."

Later today, Prime Minister Tony Blair was expected to take up the same theme in his annual address to bankers in the City. A draft of his speech released early to reporters indicated he would advocate "active and constructive engagement" with the other 14 members of the trading bloc.

Cook accused British sceptics and newspapers of peddling myths about Europe, including the suggestion that closer political and economic integration will lead to the creation of a controlling European "superstate."

"Euromyths provide great fun for journalists. The media has a mission to entertain, and some of them rise magnificently to that goal," Cook said. "But they are failing in their other mission - to inform.

"From now on, the government will be rebutting all such stories vigorously and promptly. You will be hearing the catchphrase 'facts, not myths' until that is the way the EU is reported."

Cook said the "biggest Euromyth of all" is the superstate claim, insisting that no EU member would allow this.

He rejected claims that proposals to be considered at the forthcoming EU summit in Nice, France would reduce Britain power to veto EU decisions.

Cook said the proposed changes in the voting rules would increase Britain's voice in decision-making in the Council of Ministers for the first time since 1973 and would prevent other countries from vetoing British initiatives.

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