Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Is your MP backing an in/out referendum? They should be...


In the Spring of 2000, I stood and addressed the assembled members of Keighley & Ilkley Conservative Association - seeking to be selected as their candidate for the forthcoming general election. Following my address there was a period for questions from the floor. I may recall wrong but I think it was the late Councillor Eric Dawson who asked the "in/out" question about the European Union. The dreaded question - "should we leave the EU".

We were prepared for the question about joining the Euro - I thought it a mad idea then and feel quite vindicated in that view by subsequent events. But to be asked whether we should leave the EU was a question of a different magnitude and not a matter to which I had given a great deal of thought or attention.

So I gave a thoughtful but somewhat equivocal answer, saying that we wouldn't join the Euro and that, if in the future we had a referendum about matters European it would be about whether we stayed in or came out. It was perhaps the first time I'd considered the issue in that way and I concluded by saying I really didn't know how I would vote in such an election.

I now know the answer to that question. Despite all the good that the European project has done - not least helping preserve peace and promote prosperity on the continent - it has served its original purpose. Not the unspoken purpose of a federal union but the stated purpose of co-operation in first rebuilding war-damaged economies and then building the trust needed to insure against such damage occurring again.

Today the EU is a monster - tangled in bureaucracy, mired in corruption and riddled with a courtier class more interested in personal advancement than democracy or liberty. The EU splashes money across public institutions below government level - buying the favour of business, of academia and of communities with dollops of taxpayers' cash. But despite this largess with other folks' money - or maybe in part because of it - the EU is despised by so many people. No-one who has come into contact with the EU - other than those who sold their independence for EU cash - believes it is an institution doing good.

I am convinced - and have been for several years now - that we should withdraw from the EU. That the time has come to reject the directed, dirigiste and protectionist model promoted in Europe. So, like many others I will be urging MPs (although my own MP will, I suspect, require little urging) to support the proposal - to be debated in parliament later this month - to hold an 'in/out' referendum on the EU.

I urge you to do likewise.


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