Ruth Lea – Economic Advisor to the Arbuthnot Banking Group; co-author of Britain and the EU: a new relationship
The Prime Minister’s speech on the EU had much to commend it. Not merely did he agree to an in/out referendum, but he also acknowledged the fundamental changes taking place in the EU, which have such profound implications for us, and the shrinking of the EU’s relative size and power. And he conceded that “Britain could make her own way in the world, outside the EU.” How very true, but it was good to hear it from the PM’s lips. Of course, many doubts have already been voiced about the feasibility of the Conservative Party’s winning the next election so that the referendum would take place (the Labour party now needs to step up to the plate). And there have been even more doubts voiced about the chances of Britain’s successfully negotiating a “new settlement” with a reformed Europe which is “more flexible, more adaptable, more open”. Well, I’m not taking bets on the success of either of these events. But, even so, speech was something of a breakthrough. With the announcement of an in/out referendum a Rubicon was been crossed.
We heard a great deal from Mr Cameron about the irresistible attractions of membership of the Single Market. But we know the vast majority of countries trade with both EU and non-EU countries, without being in the Single Market. They just trade. And we also know that cumbersome regulations are in the Single Market’s DNA – they are not just politically discardable afterthoughts. The Single Market brings benefits, but it also carries costs which, according to Commission estimates, could be over twice the benefits. Perhaps giant multinationals are net beneficiaries, but most businesses, and the economy at large, are net payers. The Single Market needs to be understood for what it is – a costly diversion which hinders rather than helps.
Donal Blaney – Chief Executive of the Young Britons’ Foundation
The Prime Minister should not worry what President Obama, Angela Merkel, his coalition “partners”, the BBC or the chattering classes think. He should only worry about two groups: his Party and the British people.
If he fails to listen to his Party then I fear he is finished as its leader. Euroscepticism is now mainstream. Europhilia represents the politics of the past. An overwhelming majority of MPs and the Party activists who control constituency selections favour a far looser relationship with the EU more akin to that of the Swiss.
If David Cameron fails to listen to the British people, whose views are mirrored by Tory MPs and activists, then he is finished as Prime Minister – and deservedly so. Unless you are older than 55, you have never had a vote on Europe. That’s democracy?
Businesses are being strangled by regulatory red tape and draconian employment laws. These have no place in the post-2007 global economy. They make us uncompetitive and stifle business growth and innovation.
Britain’s fisherman and farmers need to be free to compete away from the CFP and CAP. EU law should not be sovereign: parliament should be. Human rights laws should be repatriated. The pan-EU arrest warrant should go before it is abused further by other member states.
The time for obfuscation is over. This is an once-in-a-lifetime chance. Do not blow it. Give us an in-out referendum and give it to us now, Prime Minister.
Tim Congdon CBE – Hon. Chairman of TFA; author of ‘Europe’ doesn’t work: The three million jobs lie
Over the historical long run Britain has been a champion of free trade. To their credit most Westminster politicians are today in favour of free trade between Britain and the European Union’s member states, and see this as the vital part of the larger relationship with our neighbours. But that admirable belief has made these politicians vulnerable to a trick of words and led them into a serious misunderstanding that mistakes the single market and the acquis communautaire to be the same thing.
Cameron must wake up. The point is that ‘the single market’ and the acquis communautaire are not two separate items on a menu that can be chosen according to taste; the single market and the acquis are one and the same dish, and must be digested together. A nation cannot remain in the EU unless it complies with the acquis.
Once we are outside we can negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU, as have several other countries. Over 160 non-EU countries in the world buy and sell goods and services with the EU, on a relatively free basis under the auspices of the World Trade Organization. When we have left, we can recover our sovereignty in full, make our parliament the source of all our laws and our own Supreme Court the highest court in our land. The restoration of independence would enable us to lower taxes, to lighten the regulatory burden, and to pass employment-friendly legislation geared to the creation of more businesses and more jobs.
Better Off Out is a campaign run by The Freedom Association, a non-partisan pressure group dedicated to principles of freedom and national sovereignty. To keep up to date with the campaign, do follow us on Twitter @BetterOffOut.
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