The date for the EU Referendum has been set and will take place on Thursday 23 June. The Prime Minister has now returned from Brussels with a final proposal to put to the British people who can now decide whether to vote to remain in the EU on the basis negotiated or to leave.
The Prime Minister set out his four key points of negotiation in November: Economic Governance, Competitiveness, Sovereignty and Immigration. These points were a good starting position from which to negotiate a better deal with the EU, points we all agreed needed to be addressed if the UK was to benefit from remaining part of the EU.
In February, Donald Tusk (President of the EU) came back with proposals for a new settlement which claimed to have addressed David Cameron’s key demands. This was followed by protracted negotiations with all 28 member states to agree a final deal. For me the outcome does not go far enough to create a new relationship with Europe which will deliver the best future for Britain. I admire the Prime Minister’s attempt. Europe would not let him give us what we need to be the success story we want to and can be.
The negotiated package delivers a commitment not as a country to be bound to ever closer union. It provides reassurance on reviewing the red tape stranglehold of rules and regulations. It also provides a red card but one which 55% of member states have to support before an unwelcome regulation is reconsidered. Finally it provides breaks on migrant benefits in the future and reduces the rate of child benefit able to be sent abroad to the local rate in the country in which the child lives.
None of this is legally binding. We need a treaty, which may or may not come. We cannot legislate to make our laws sovereign over EU laws – that can only be done in a treaty. Any new parliamentary act on sovereignty will be ineffective. We remain powerless to vote out the EU commissioners who make the rules and we have very little say in what they are. In a democracy, if the government regulator is getting it wrong you can vote them out. This is not the case with the EU.
Our membership of the EU was to be about trade and peace, not political union. Yet we can only enter into a trade deal with the agreement of all 28 member states. We need the freedom to enter into our own trade deals. The rules of international trade have changed and the EU cannot impose swingeing tariffs on us should we leave– and why would they given they export more to us than we do to them.
Does the EU deliver peace and security? A sense of it maybe but not in reality. The EU has singularly failed to deal with the migration crisis or provide any meaningful leadership. We cannot control our borders and cannot deport those that may potentially seek to cause us harm, either as individuals or to our society and way of life as a whole. NATO is the international body that delivers peace and security and we have our own seat on the top table here, not because we are part of Europe.
Are we leaving a secure cosy corner and making a leap into the unknown? We are not in a cosy corner and have no knowledge, significant influence or control over how the EU will change in the future. On our own we have control and can forge a future, which we have a successful track record of doing, which will deliver prosperity, jobs and security. We are the fifth largest economy in the world. We created a legal system adopted and envied by many countries.
I love this country as much as David Cameron does – but we disagree on what will be for the best. I will be voting to leave the EU for a brighter future for Britain and one which will deliver prosperity and peace- and which we have determined for ourselves.