One of the most significant differences between the four main parties (parties likely to win more than 10 seats) is the approach to the European Union. The three left of centre parties all support our current membership, would be happy to see a continuing erosion of power as the EU passes more laws and gains more control over our lives, and are happy to pay a substantial contribution to the rest of the EU. The Conservatives argue that the current relationship is not working in the UK’s interest, that too much power has already passed to the EU, and we need a new relationship with them.
A Conservative government would recognise that the Euro area members of the EU will need to take more and more power to the centre, to add political, fiscal and budgetary union to their currency union. The UK has no wish to do that, and needs a new relationship with the Euro area as it emerges in a more centralised form. A Conservative government will seek to negotiate a new relationship based on trade and political co-operation. As Mr Cameron made clear in his Bloomberg speech, a central task will be to restore UK democratic accountability of government to Parliament. Voters will then have a referendum to decide if they like the new relationship or would rather leave the EU altogether. Those who are sceptical of the UK’s ability to negotiate a new deal without leaving, will be free to vote for Out. The presence of the referendum will provide a good incentive to the rest of the EU to negotiate, as very clearly they do not wish to lose all that money we pay in.
The other three parties would fail to address the real issues which are already upon us over our membership. As non members of the Euro we are finding that regulation and control of our large financial services and banking sector is increasingly under EU law and administration in ways which can be damaging to business. We are finding it impossible to run a low priced energy policy thanks to EU energy rules, making our wish to expand UK manufacturing more difficult to deliver. The EU wants the UK to stand behind the debts of the banks and states of the Euro area. We need to resist this. Any likely government but a Conservative one will not stand up for UK interests, and will not seek to resolve the growing tensions between Euro and non Euro members.
This election will make a huge difference on the matter of our EU membership. There is only one chance now to vote for an In/Out referendum before many more EU shackles are placed upon us if we have a government formed from the 3 pro EU left of centre parties.