There is a deafening silence in the Lib Dem and Labour manifestos about the need for a new relationship with the emerging political and monetary union on the continent. It is surpassed by their arrogance in seeking to deny us an In/Out referendum on whether we want to stay in the EU. They apparently know best. They shout at us that we must stay in, without ever examining the options for a new relationship based on trade and co-operation outside the federal treaties. They appear not to understand the dangers of our present course, accepting more and more rules, laws and invoices needed for a political and monetary union to which we do not fully belong.
We need to ask why do these parties and people think they are right this time, when they have been so wrong in the past? Many of them who now just assert we have to stay in come what may, urged us to join the Exchange Rate Mechanism. I remember how they disagreed with me and the few of us who opposed it, how they briefed against us and claimed we did not understand the stability and growth that membership of the ERM would bring. Instead, as we forecast, it brought us boom and bust. First it brought us too much credit and money, then it brought a sterling crisis leading to our forced exit. It gave us a nasty recession based on interest rates which were far too high for UK needs, as the authorities slavishly tried to follow the European model.
Learning nothing from this bitter experience, many of these same people then urged us to enter the Euro. I and others fought a more successful battle to stop that. Had we been in the Euro in 2008 I suspect the banking crash would have forced a UK exit, as I doubt Germany and others would have wanted to stand behind our weakened large banks in the way the Bank of England and UK government did.
Now these same parties assert we have to stay in the EU to be able to trade with them. Why? Doesn’t the rest of the world trade happily with the EU without joining? Hasn’t the German government already said it would need a free trade agreement with the UK if we left, as Germany sells us so much more than we sell to Germany?
It is high time these luminaries of the left who are in love with our current EU membership had to answer some tougher questions. Why do they accept dear energy, a central EU policy? It means less industry and fewer jobs in manufacturing, it means more fuel poverty. Why do they put up with it?
Why do they put up with the economic policies of the Euro and the wider EU, which generate unacceptably high levels of unemployment in many Euro countries?
Why do they accept the EU policy of controlling government deficits to a maximum of 3% of GDP per annum, when at home they are always urging larger deficits?
Why do they endorse policies which entail massive cuts in public spending in countries like Greece, Portugal and Spain, whilst resisting any cut at home?
We need a new relationship. It needs to be one that gives us more freedom to govern ourselves, and allows the Euro area to complete its union without the UK slowing it down or making it more difficult. If one cannot be negotiated, then the British people need the opportunity to vote out of what we have at the moment, as it is far from ideal. Whatever the negotiation brings, the people should decide. Labour, Liberal Democrats and SNP are united in wanting to deny the British people the choice. If they do not trust the people, why should the people trust them?