Wokingham Times

The local and EU elections gave me the opportunity to visit more doorsteps and talk to more people in their homes. Parliament has taken a break between sessions to allow MPs more time in their constituencies.

The doorstep conversations were very varied, with numerous local issues that matter to people that are the task of the new Council to sort out. There was little change in the composition of the Council, with the addition of one new Labour member and the gain of one seat in Woodley by the Conservatives from the Liberal Democrats. I congratulate all those who won on May 22nd and wish them well in dealing with a wide range of issues in planning, transport, education and social services. They need to take up the plans for Wokingham Town centre and respond to changed circumstances and local views. They need to develop their ideas to combat future flooding, and to ease congestion on our roads. I also thank all who fought and lost. They worked hard to give us all a choice and are a necessary part of our democracy.

The EU election brought to the fore the issue of whether we should be in the EU at all, and if we wish to remain in it, how should we wish to change it to meet the UK’s needs? At one end of the spectrum of debate the Liberal democrats campaigned for staying in on current terms, a view which proved to be unpopular. At the other end of the spectrum UKIP campaigned for immediate exit, a view which attracted a lot of support. The Conservatives set out the offer to the electors which we will repeat in the 2015 General election. We think the current relationship does not work in the UK’s interest, but think we should negotiate with the rest of the EU first before deciding whether it is best to leave or whether there is a new relationship that makes sense for the UK. Labour largely accepts the current relationship, like the Liberal Democracts, and is not in favour of withdrawal. However, in the light of the EU election results they seem now to be saying they too think some features of our current relationship need to change.

There are two main reasons why I want to see a major change in our relationship. The first is the EU has been given far too much power under the Treaties of Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon which Conservatives opposed at the time. The second is the Euro area is gathering power to the centre and needs to form a common government over many things. As a non Euro member we have no wish to be dragged into this centralised system which would stop us having our own policies for prosperity and economic advance. I want to trade with the rest of the EU and be friends with them. We need agreements with them over various matters ranging from flight paths and airport access through ferry links to pipelines and power connections. That does not mean we have to be governed by the EU, or let them decide our immigration policy, our criminal justice system or our energy policy.

Much of the debate for the EU elections was about these fundamental matters which do still get settled at Westminster. Only the Westminster Parliament can order a referendum on our future on the EU. Only our national Parliament can vote to take us out of the EU, if that is the wish of UK voters. The EU elections sent messages. The 2015 General Election will make the decisions on whether we want to negotiate a new deal, and whether we want an In/Out referendum or not. So far only the Conservatives are offering an IN/Out referendum. Let’s see how others respond to the mood of the country as expressed on May 22nd.

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4 Comments

  1. Peter Davies
    Posted May 29, 2014 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I haven’t had the time to look at this in detail but Richard North’s paper talks about expanding the scope of EEA to be the main vehicle for regulations & trade in goods, capital and services and more importantly not being subservient to EU institutions.

    To me this approach would more than satisfy the “trade/access to markets/compliance with the EU but not having a say arguments” that the federalists keep repeating.

    This approach would also allow the EU/EZ to do its thing whilst also allowing the likes of the UK to leave without affecting trade. How you get there is of course another matter – but separating trade from governance so EEA/EFTA is run along similar lines to NAFTA (trading block only) has to be the way ahead.

  2. lojolondon
    Posted May 29, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    John, I think you should view the European Elections as the closest thing to an EU referendum that the British public will ever get.

    As a previous loyal Conservative I will campaign relentlessly for UKIP – the EU is completely undemocratic, and I feel that our representatives are entirely disloyal and almost treasonous by engaging with the EU.

    We want a democracy – a system where we, the people, select someone to represent us in parliament.

    The EU system means that 28 people from 28 different countries in Europe get together in a darkened room, and think up laws. These laws are passed down to the European Parliament, and almost all are passed, as the major parties agree on every issue. It is not democratic, and no-one is ever accountable.

    We need to be completely out of the EU as fast as possible IMHO, they will not allow us to change our terms and there will clearly be no exceptions made for Britain due to the precedent that would set.

  3. Peejos
    Posted May 29, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    John,

    It is fraudulent in the extreme to imply that any meaningiful negotiation is possible with 27 disparate nations. Once such a suggestion was mooted then each and everone would want to cherry pick things to their own benefits.

    As one of the few countries which actually has a positive input to the common pot we have a small amount of leverage, but the horse trading which would go on if we said negotiate or else would never cease.

    In reality actually leaving the EU by evoking Clause 50, would provide a clean slate from which to establish exactly what relationship we expected with the block. Please remember that we only referendum that the UK has ever had was for a free trade block: not the tortuous union that our governments have sleep walked into for nearly half a century. Not one of which have actually had the honesty and courage to explain exactly what the benefits of ever closer union really are.

    Reply As I explain endlessly there is nowhere near a majority of MPs or voters simply to invoke 50 and pull out. We need to offer a negotiation. If they do not negotiate or offer little then we can vote to leave. It’s a two stage process, because there is no majority for a unilateral exit. It is fantasy politics to say we can solve all our problems by exit from the EU when voters do not vote for it in sufficient numbers so it never happens.

  4. dave roderick
    Posted May 29, 2014 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    mr redwood your boss mr cameroon is as usuall telling lies as his promised referendum at the end of 2017 will not matter as the new eu rules witch come into force in november 2014 will have been set in stone and if we the plebs vote for out he then has to go to the eu and ask permission to leave and you know the answer to that don,t you as an mp you should know this and be pointing it out to your boss

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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