Much of our political class have tried, with varying degrees of success, to sit on the EU fence. On the one side they know the EU is hugely unpopular. On the other they perceive that their career interests are best served by supporting the EU. There are votes in appearing EU-sceptic, but there is a career in being an EU-phile. With Dave’s Dodgy Deal done and dusted, and the EU referendum less than 100 days away, it is now untenable for any of these fence sitters to continue to gather splinters. They are forced to nail their true colours to the mast. For many, those colours are yellow and blue.

 

This letter from the Witney Gazette (published courtesy of The Campaign for An Independent Britain) illustrates how our Prime Minister is among those who are willing to make EU-sceptic noises in order to win votes, but is a committed EU-phile once elected.

Sir, Watching the BBC Andrew Marr Show a couple of weeks back, I was perplexed to hear David Cameron, our Witney MP and Prime Minister, dismiss the return of sovereignty to the people of this country as being inconsequential, or words to that effect.

Sovereignty means the recognition that a people actually count and in the same way that we have district councils and county councils to create a degree of order and to avoid anarchy, so we need sovereignty at a higher level for the same thing. Perhaps Mr Cameron thinks that we would be better off with a sovereign EU, but experience has shown that that entity is, apart from being unlovable, puts accountability and understanding out of reach of we ordinary citizens because of its sheer mass and the fact we cannot get rid of those who run it, – the larger the size, the more remote it becomes.

Anyway, apart from the philosophical argument, my bewilderment arises from what it was that prompted Mr Cameron’s epiphany conversion, for when first seeking the Conservative Party candidature for Witney in early 2000, he had a very different view of sovereignty, regarding it as a major issue in Britain ’s relationship with the EU. Then he publicly declared that he opposed any further transfer of sovereignty from the UK to the EU.

In fact Mr Cameron went further than that complaining that ‘politicians have given up far too much sovereignty’ and wanted no further transfer of power from Westminster to Brussels and went so far as to say ‘If that’s being a Europhile, then I’m a banana’.

Well it could be that Mr Cameron now has a much deeper understanding of the issue, and that in spite of the transfer of huge swathes of the people’s power (and we are ultimately talking about the power of you and I through the ballot box to influence things for the better) since millennium year, he has something to tell us that we should all know about.

I believe it is the duty of our elected representatives to explain the thinking that lies behind their decision making, especially on an issue which I know to be dear to most people in this constituency and in the country in general. Shall we be enlightened? Well let’s wait and see.

Where Dave leads, many of our careerist, principle-free political class will surely follow. With scant regard for their earlier EU-sceptic pronouncements, and absolutely no regard for UK interests, Ministers have lined up to follow Dave’s example. As this letter from Gary Conway of this parish published in the Daily Mail illustrates:

The Environment Secretary Liz Truss, has taken to Twitter to announce her position on the upcoming EU referendum: “I am backing remain as I believe it is in Britain’s economic interest and means we can focus on vital economic and social reform at home.” This may come as a surprise to her constituents.

In February 2015 Miss Truss, described as a “Eurosceptic”, warned that British farmers were being damaged by membership of the European Union in a front page interview in a national paper. Miss Truss then stood for election on a Conservative manifesto that promised to reduce net migration to the “tens of thousands”, to give migrants no benefits until they have lived in the UK for four years, to deport jobless migrants after 6 months and to regain powers to deport criminals.

It simply is not credible that Miss Truss’ views on EU membership have been swayed by David Cameron’s renegotiation which does not return a single power to the UK, nor does it save the UK a single pound. It leaves EU law supreme over UK law. It will do nothing to enable the UK to once more control its borders. It does not even fulfil the promises in the Conservative manifesto on which Miss Truss was elected.

Miss Truss has said EU membership means UK farmers can export tariff free to the EU, but EU membership is not a requirement for free access to the single market. EU membership does however mean that farmers are unable to export tariff free to the rest of the world, and that the UK is subsidising their competitors in France, Germany and Poland. Nobody is suggesting UK farmers should no longer be subsidised, just that the UK takes control and pays the subsidies direct instead of via the EU middle-man, as we did before we joined the EU. That is to say nothing of the unwanted EU red tape and interference that burdens our farmers.

We live in a representative democracy. Miss Truss represents a constituency which contains Norfolk’s most EU-sceptic town. In a recent survey, 67% of people in Swaffham said they wanted to leave the EU. Yet their MP does not represent their views on this, the most important political issue of our lifetime.

 

There are countless others. Having made impressive speeches on the dangers of mass immigration and having seen the pernicious impact of the EU on a daily basis as Home Secretary, Theresa May has lost all credibility and any chance she may have had of leading the Conservative party. And then there’s Jeremy Corbyn who abandoned 40 years of Euroscepticism within days of winning the Labour leadership.

Photo by kevin dooley

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