Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Newspaper column 24 February 2016 - Why I will be voting to leave the EU

On 23rd June this year we all have the chance to make a once in a lifetime decision over the future of this country in the European Union Referendum.  I will be voting to leave the EU. 

I reached this decision after listening to the Prime Minister outline the deal he had negotiated in Brussels on Friday night.  The deal is undoubtedly a significant improvement from the status quo; many individual issues were addressed, but it falls woefully short of the visionary fundamental reform that I had hoped to see. 

This is a missed opportunity to change the EU into an effective and efficient organization, working to improve the lives of all of its citizens.  Interestingly the UK is not alone in the wish for reform; there are reports that other member countries are now trying to secure similar changes.

The EU remains dominated by those countries that wish to see the “ever-closer Union.”  These countries expect that the deal should mark the end of the UK’s attempts to steer Europe in a different direction and to secure special opt outs. In my view this is only the beginning of much needed reform, not the end.

It is clear to me that the EU is no longer working in the UK’s best interests.  It is time for our paths to diverge; outside of the EU we will continue to build our economy, secure the safety of our citizens, and play a role in the other global institutions such as NATO and the UN.  The remainder of the EU will be free to work to towards the goal of ever-closer union without us.

The future is uncertain and no one can predict what the EU will look like in five or 10 years’ time. The migrant crisis, slow growth, economic instability in the Eurozone and ‎political changes in individual countries, create a very real risk that remaining in could drag our country down.

By far the biggest risk in my opinion, is staying in an EU which is increasingly having to deal with crisis after crisis, most of its own making. The Eurozone meltdowns have caused economic hardship with up to 50% youth unemployment in Greece, Spain and Italy. 

I believe we have now reached a point where the cost and negative impact of being in the EU outweigh the benefits.  While the UK is a net contributor to the EU, Cornwall has been a net receiver.  Over the last few years many millions of pounds have flowed into Cornwall.  Unfortunately these funds often come with restrictions that make them difficult to access and directly benefit the people of Cornwall.   Outside the EU we would be able to better manage and target the areas that need support without being constrained by EU rules. 

Additionally, our economy has been further harmed at the hands of the EU Common Fisheries Policy. This piece of legislation is quite frankly not fit for purpose and certainly does not give our hard working fishing communities their fair share of catch quotas compared to many other countries in Europe.

For many, immigration is an important factor in the European debate. For me, it is an issue that goes far beyond our membership of the EU and, although it has a bearing on this debate, it is not one that would be resolved simply by the UK leaving the EU. We will have emigration and immigration issues whether inside or outside the EU. The modern global economy will continue to require the movement of labour around the world for all sorts of reasons. In sensible numbers, migration enhances economic efficiency and is socially and culturally enriching.

Currently we have no control over migrants coming from the EU. This is putting a strain on local infrastructure and services that cannot plan or prepare for the numbers of people arriving. Outside the EU we would be able to set our own rules.

It is important to remember that the ultimate decision on the EU does not lie with the politicians. 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 and I will be voting to leave.   

For more detail on my position on the EU Deal and the referendum please see the statement on my website at team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and seek to make a real difference to the lives of everyone who needs help and support in any way.  If there is any issue that we can help you with then please contact us on either 01726 829379 or on