The news and many conversations have recently been dominated by Europe – and quite rightly so. The speculation is finally over and the Prime Minister has set the date of the EU referendum for the 23rd June 2016, fulfilling the manifesto commitment we campaigned on last year and delivering on something I have called for since I was first elected in 2010.
The referendum is a huge moment for our country and will decide Britain’s future. As a result, this is rightly not a decision for Members of Parliament, but a decision for the British people. Like everyone reading this column, I will have only a single vote and we all have the same power on the 23rd June. Nevertheless, many constituents have contacted me to ask which way I will be voting in the referendum, so I wanted to lay out my position and thoughts here.
I have decided I will be campaigning to leave the European Union in the referendum. Whilst I think the Prime Minister worked incredibly hard to try to renegotiate our relationship with the EU, the renegotiation deal offered doesn’t go far enough to convince me that we would be better off remaining a member of the European Union.
Many people in Amber Valley know I have long held concerns over the level of immigration and our inability to control it. Nothing in the recent renegotiation deal suggests to me that we can get anywhere near our pledge of reducing this to the tens of thousands without leaving the EU.
More importantly, there has been no reform which ensures the ultimate sovereignty of the UK Parliament and, by that, democratic accountability to the people of the UK for decisions taken in their name. The bureaucratic monster of the EU has been binding us in to an ever closer political union and wrapping its bureaucratic tentacles around our Parliament, and around what should be British decisions, to become too interfering and too costly. If Britain votes to leave in June, in the short term alone we will save £20 billion a year in our net contributions to the EU, which will greatly help measures to tackle our deficit and allow us to spend the money on our priorities, such as the NHS.
I strongly believe that, as the fifth largest economy in the world, freed of EU restrictions and able to retake our place on the global stage as an open, free-trading nation, we can ensure greater prosperity in the long term for our country.
I know many people are still undecided on how they will vote, or would like more facts on the costs and benefits of our membership of the EU. As a result, I hope to take part in and hold some hustings and events so that people can make an informed decision for themselves. If this is something you would be interested in attending, please do let me know so that I can keep you updated on any relevant events and debates; you can get in touch in the usual ways, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or ringing my office on 01773 744341.