There is little meeting of minds between the Franco German controllers of the EU and its most detached and unhelpful member, the UK. The meeting between Mr Cameron and Mrs Merkel did its best to bridge the large and growing gap between the UK and the continent, but the truth is the political Channel has just got a lot wider.
The British people do not want to join the common borders project, do not like complete freedom of movement within the EU, and want the UK to gain more control over its borders and welfare system. They support Mr Cameron’s refusal to join a quota system for accepting new arrivals to the EU from outside. They support his wish to reform welfare in ways which would limit access to benefits for recently arrived people from the continent.
The British people do not want to join the Euro. Even Lord Mandelson, one of the main instigators of Euro enthusiasm in the UK, now accepts the UK is not simply waiting for a more propitious time to join the project. The people who have argued the pro EU case recently against me in debate have rushed to criticise the Euro and agree with me over its present shortcomings. As the Euro is the main part of the present EU project this places a big obstacle in the way of our friendly membership, and will mean hereafter we will always be demanding exemptions and special treatment from outside the principal centralising force.
The Prime Minister rightly argues we do not want ever closer union. The German Chancellor and the French President made clear this week that they do want ever closer union, and they want it now. They also seemed to imply that if the UK does not want it, it would be best if we left.
The UK wants fewer laws and regulations. The main method of ever closer union is for the EU to take over more and more areas of lawmaking so it has control. It is a fantasy to suppose the EU is about to halve its laws and agree to return large powers to the member states as a whole, as that cuts against the thrust of centralising to back and protect the Euro. Promises of deregulation in a few areas have been made before, but have never materialised. Usually some figures are trotted out purporting to show some old directives and regulations have been discontinued. Usually what has happened is a far bigger and more comprehensive regulation or directive has taken the place of several smaller ones. The trend is continuously for more and more EU law which any given member state cannot change if it wishes.
The easiest way of solving the UK problem is for both sides to agree that all we want – on both sides – is a free trade agreement, along with a range of agreements on extradition, air traffic, telecoms and other interconnections similar to those we already have and similar to those we have with non EU members. I hope that is what Mr Cameron concludes.It is the logic of his position, which has included opting out of the Fiscal Treaty, seeking to reduce the EU budget, and asking for fewer laws which have all proved contrary to the wishes of most continental governments.
In the meantime I support Vote Leave, as we do need to explain to people how being out of the current EU will be so much better than being in. Germany and France could be liberated by the absence of the UK seeking to restrain their centralising push for ever closer union. We will be free to pursue our global agenda for freer trade and better relations between states. We will also be £10 billion a year better off, or £300 per family every year we are out.