I have long argued that the government should create a new relationship with the EU. I was pleased Mr Cameron used this phrase in his important Bloomberg speech. The businessmen who have written today to a newspaper saying it is in our economic interest to stay in the EU on current terms, as always have failed to explain why. The problems with our current membership include the high cost energy, ineffective and expensive regulations and other anti enterprise measures which adversely affect us. The EU is anti jobs, exporting them to other parts of the world by making us uncompetitive.
To me the phrase a new relationship means that we want to create a relationship based around the important trade the UK does with other states in the EU. We also may well need to co-operate with the neighbours, through bilateral agreements over pipelines, ferry links, air routes and all the other issues that relate to the conduct of trade and the travel of people between our islands and the continent. I leave open the possibility that we will want to undertake other matters based on mutual political co-operation, where it makes sense for us and them and where we have a veto over whether to do it or not, just as they would also enjoy a veto.
I do not think we can mend this broken relationship which many in the UK now find unacceptable, by a few modest treaty amendments. After all, the whole Conservative party voted No to Nice, No to Amsterdam, and No to Lisbon. The Conservative party was forced into accepting Maastricht reluctantly by a past leadership, only accepting it on the basis that we were exempted from the main points of that treaty, by refusing to join the Euro.
I find it bizarre that the media and some other critics now make out the Conservative party is once again divided on Europe and talking about something that matters to few people. The party I know is united behind the proposition that we need a new relationship, and still united around the view that at least the last three treaties and arguably more were unacceptable in surrendering vetoes and pushing the federalist agenda.
In a democracy one Parliament cannot bind its successors. To recover our democracy we need to be able to reverse EU laws previous governments have adopted, and need to be able to unwind treaties we voted against at the time. Far from banging on about a minor issue, we are seeking to sort out the big issues of border control, migration, extradition, energy prices, welfare eligibility and the rest where the EU now has the power to block or amend what we want to do.