Wokingham Times

The issue of Europe will not go away, much though the federalists wish it would. The BBC have gone back to saying the Conservatives are obsessed by Europe and split over it. The truth is somewhat different. Most Conservatives want the UK Parliament and government to be able to make decisions in the interest of the British people. In all too many areas the Coalition finds it cannot do that, because huge powers were given away at Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon in the more recent treaties agreed there. The last Labour government surrendered control of our borders, our energy policy, our financial regulation policy and much else besides.

The government would like to decide who is eligible to receive benefits in our country. Should someone recently arrived from a continental country qualify for a full range of benefits if they cannot find a job or should their own country support them? Should they qualify for all the UK top up benefits and public services if they do find a low paid job? Ministers discover the EU has views on this which entail UK taxpayers paying out full benefits to people who have not made any previous contribution themselves to UK taxes, who are not going to become UK citizens, and who may keep their family in another country.

The government would like to decide who we invite into our country. It cannot do this when it comes to people arriving from the rest of the EU. The government has stated it wishes to cut the numbers of migrants, as in recent years very large numbers have imposed strains on the provision of housing and public services in the popular parts of the country. As a result the government has to be less fair to the rest of the world to accommodate more arrivals from Europe, but struggles to tackle the overall problem.

Many of us want cheaper energy. The UK’s energy bills are particularly high. The US is benefitting massively from gas prices half the level of our own. That boosts people’s spending power, and helps the US economic and industrial recovery. Here in the UK standards of living are cut by high energy bills. Industry is moving activities abroad to get the benefits of cheaper fuel. When Ministers try to do something about it, they find much of it is laid down in EU rules they cannot change. A number of older power stations are being closed to comply with the EU before replacements have been built, leaving us dangerously short of power.

There are many more examples of how the EU dominates our daily lives in ways many people do not like. That is why many of us Conservative MPs are demanding a new relationship for the UK with the EU, and seeking a popular vote on our relationship with the EU. Far from being split on this issue, most Conservative MPs think the EU has too much power and often uses it in unhelpful ways. We all want to see a changed relationship where UK democracy can flourish again. In this Parliament where no party has a majority, expect plenty of lively debate as we try to find a way forward. We are busy trying to persuade the federalist parties that they too need to help us restore our right to self government in the areas that matter.

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7 Comments

  1. Posted May 15, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Want to know where we are going? Look at today’s Telegraph news about France, here is a short quote:
    “European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the extension will only be approved if Mr Hollande’s plans are deemed “credible” by EU officials.”

    The promise of a referendum in 2017 is a chimera, no one with any sense believes Cameron’s “cast iron” promises.
    Having failed to deliver on his contracted word, well, you can’t have anything stronger than cast iron (is he going for a Titanium or Diamond cast promise?), he has very narrow hoop to wriggle through.
    Cameron can and should call for a referendum in 2014 and if the LibDem’s do not agree – call an early election.

    It is pure nonsense to expect the EU to give us new terms in any negotiations, they are in the middle of an existential crisis and the British Problem ranks as a 1 in a scale of a million.

    Quite often you hear the Hazeltine’s and Clark’s types say that we need to be at the “heart of Europe” and have “seat at the high table”, what complete hogwash – we have no meaningful say in Europe and this undemocratic monstrosity is now mainly governed by Germany.

    When the UK elected to enter the EEC it was a completely different structure, power, cost and orientation, no one was talking (overtly) about a “united states of Europe”.
    After over 35 years and huge changes in both Europe and us it is time to let the people have their say, if the pro camp is so sure of their “disaster if we leave” scenario – let them convince us.

    Lastly Cameron is a bad leader, he cultivated a very nasty confrontational style with the Labor party.
    This was and is a bad mistake, they represent a significant part of the electorate, my guess is that they could have been more of a partner than the LibDem’s, they have been in government and will be again, some of them ARE human and care about the nation, my guess is that without the confrontational style, quite a few could be persuaded that the EU (as constituted) is a (problem-ed) for us (you just wait for the new two million East European immigrants).

  2. Posted May 15, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    John this is why I changed my vote to UKIP. I don’t belive the conservatives will be able to stop the rot. Your leadership seems unable to grasp the amount of damage that has been done to our country. I just want it reveresed, now, not in some distant 2017 which probably won’t happen. Its not loyalty to the conservatives, its loyalty to my beloved country.
    Did you see on the news how they found Cleggs election campaign booklet where he was supporting an in/out referendum. The man of u-turns.

  3. Posted May 15, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    And yet Mr Cameron still says we are better off in Europe, than outside it.

    Whilst it might be the case that what Mr Cameron really means, is we would be better off inside a ‘changed’ EU, I haven’t yet heard any real hard and fast visions as to what that ‘changed EU’ might look like. It’s all in a state of flux that seems to change by the hour. We think we know what a ‘changed EU’ would look like, then somebody else says something which throws into doubt all that has gone before.

    The difficulty is, a ‘changed EU’ could mean all things to all men. At today’s PMQs, even the Lib Dem leader seemed to suggest the EU needs change, but I strongly suspect his idea of ‘change’ won’t match those of the rest of us.

    This ambiguity need to be resolved, but the public are in great danger of becoming snow-blind. There will be far too many differences of opinion to know where everyone stood, so for that reason, it could be the best option just to get to hell out of it once and for all, and be done with all the double-talk, and double-dealing.

    If we then begin with the one primary and paramount premise, that our own parliament is, and will always remain sovereign, we can co-operate with the EU where it is in our national interest. I can’t see how anyone can have a real problem with that, unless their real intention all along, is to tie us into a federal united states of Europe, where we have little chance of overturning unfavourable legislation in the quest for their vision of a centralised socialist-centric Utopia.

    Interesting to hear the Labour MP, Graham Stringer, just say on Sky News, that ‘the EU is un-reformable’, so this is a chicken that will come home to roost on very many perches, not just those of the Tories.

    And we were once again reminded, that not so long ago, the Labour party would not accept anyone as a candidate, unless they openly stated they were against our membership of the EU. So what changed to make them so ‘for’ a European Union that was always destined to crash and burn, because it was so inherently unstable?

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  4. Posted May 15, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    All admirable aims in your two Wokingham Times posts today, but where you are part of a coalition how much is it possible to repatriate some power to UK constituents through your current review of the UK implementation of EU directives and their unnecessary gold plating or is it too early in the review process to say at this point? Until more meaningful negotiations happen between the UK and the EU, this is the best we can expect in the short term to improve the UK’s international competitiveness.

    If your party does get the opportunity in the future to renegotiate some powers back from Brussels that will be interesting, where the “ever closer union” and ever increasing EU powers over member states is not known as a ratchet for nothing!

    The voting on today’s Queen’s speech amendment even if it is defeated will at least show where many MPs and their political parties stand on the referendum issue.

  5. Posted May 15, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this reasoned article. There one fly in the ointment that is often over looked and that is regionalisation, with this on the agenda the EU can not negotiate with states as they are due to be broken up.

    I am interested to hear your opinions on regionalisation, who will take responsibility for our national debt, our army etc

    Kind regards
    William

    Why do I have to log in each time I reply to a posting? Could we somehow save the details so that when I reply I do not have to re-log on.

  6. Posted May 15, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    You have made 2 comments recently which I would like to quote

    1) the Conservative Party is a Eurosceptic Party

    2) expect plenty of lively debate

    So how is the Conservative Party going to take the UK out of the EU?

    Debate and scepticism will not achieve anything.

    The Conservative Party will always remain in the EU, and never leave.

    The Consetvative Party is a pro EU Party

  7. Posted May 16, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Ever closer union is a clue. We lose our ability to rule ourselves,if you believe that our representatives in the EU will be able to sway the votes our way you must be dreaming. Our fishing grounds are raped, the fish are being wiped out. A good cod and fish supper is now beyond most chip shops ability to serve at a price that is acceptable. The agricultural policy demanded by the French is doing nobody any good. Its a mess, but please do not think that the UKIP is only interested in the EU far from it. We have many areas of policy that will benefit from a good clear out. The recent shenannigans in the HoC about votes etc is pathetic. The Tory party and the liberals will be history at the next election and then the hard work starts, bringing our country back into the position that it should enjoy. I will really enjoy the delight that getting our country back will bring me it will be worth all the hard work.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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