There are three main reason any the UK would be better off out of the current EU and its all embracing Treaty commitments. The first is we would free to govern ourselves. The second is we would be better off financially. The third is the UK would have more influence in the wider world and would not be dragged into EU conflicts.
Today let us begin the case by looking at the question of self government. I find in replying to constituents that they are often surprised to be told that something cannot be done here in the UK, or requires a change of European law. Successive governments have not stressed to electors just how much power has been given away in various treaties. Labour chose to understate and to deny transfers of powers when signing us up to the Nice Amsterdam and Lisbon Treaties. Mr Major was able to stress that the UK opted out of the main point of the Maastricht Treaty , but it too was part of a long journey to ever closer union.
Equally important has been the continuous flood of new Directives, regulations and court decisions coming from Brussels. The UK under a qualified majority voting system has often been persuaded to go along with unsatisfactory texts on the basis that an alternative would be worse. All too infrequently in recent years has the UK been able to resist a new EU law. Each Directive or regulation means another area which is no longer under the control of the UK Parliament and people. It is rare to persuade the EU to repeal or amend anything, unless to replace it with an even more far reaching proposal.
Under the original Treaty of Rome the UK surrendered its farming policy and fishing grounds to EU control. Since then the EU has come to take over most financial regulation, employment law, health and safety law, competition law, environmental policy, energy policy, general business regulation, VAT and some aspects of Corporation tax, whilst also introducing collaboration on common European networks, foreign policy, Home affairs and borders. Welfare and general taxation, two areas we were always told were outside EU competence, have also been made subject to constraints or interventions by the EU and the European courts.
UK voters believe they live in a country where public opinion can influence and change a government’s mind and the law, or can lead to a change of government to one who will. This is no longer true in all too many areas of life and law. The polls now show some realisation of this truth, with most people in the UK wanting power back from the EU, even if they still wish to remain a member. The Labour government made a big mistake in not being honest with UK voters about the magnitude of the power sacrificed under Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon, and the large number of directives and regulations they approved. Each time we were told it was a tidying up exercise, or a modest proposal. In total it was a major slice of our power of self government needlessly given away.