Last week the Prime Minister updated Parliament on his latest discussions in the renegotiation of our relationship with the European Union. He also announced that Cabinet Members and Government Ministers are free to campaign on either side of the debate in the EU In/Out Referendum.
It is now likely that this Referendum will be held during 2016, possibly in June or July. This was one of the key commitments in the Conservative election manifesto and I am pleased that we are delivering on it so quickly.
A number of people have asked what my position is on the EU Referendum, and how I will be voting. My position has remained unchanged since I embarked on the journey to become your MP in January 2013. I believe our relationship with the EU is currently no longer working in Britain's best interests. The EU has become increasingly bureaucratic, undemocratic and institutionalised. So much is now driven by ideology that is inconsistent with UK values. If the choice were carry on as we currently are or leave, I would certainly vote to leave.
The Prime Minister is seeking to renegotiate a number of aspects of our relationship. These include; an opt-out from the “every closer union” objective, protection for the UK and other countries who remain outside of the Eurozone, and limits on the benefits paid to EU migrant workers who come to work in this country.
Whilst I welcome these elements of the negotiations, I am disappointed that we are not asking for more. I would like to see a much more fundamental reform that re-establishes the sovereignty of our parliament over the EU Commission.
Clearly there are some benefits to belonging to the EU such as the Free Trade arrangements and access to European markets. Cornwall has also benefited from millions of pounds of EU support. However I believe we have now reached a point where the cost and negative impact of being in the EU outweigh the benefits.
There will be risks in leaving but there are also risks in staying. The future is uncertain and no one can predict what the EU will look like in 5 or 10 years time. The migrant crisis, slow growth and economic instability in the Eurozone, and political changes in individual countries, together create a very real risk that remaining in could drag our country down.
The UK economy is stronger and growing faster than any other EU country; we are in a good position to continue to thrive outside of the EU.
I will wait until the Prime Minister's renegotiations are compete before coming to a decision on how I will vote, but I will need to see more fundamental reform than is currently under discussion before changing my position. Therefore it is likely that I will be voting to leave the EU in the Referendum.
It is important to remember that it is not what the politicians think that matters. This will be an opportunity for the people of this country to have their say on our future relationship with the EU for the first time in 40 years. Your view and your vote will count.
This is your chance to have your say - use it wisely.