Tony Blair’s old friend and ally Lord Sainsbury seems to be emerging as the éminence grise behind the YES Campaign. I was struck by his comment that “our industrial and economic success is tied with the future of Europe and we can’t stand aside from that”. I’m sorry, Lord Sainsbury, but you’ve got it backwards. Our industrial and economic success (or failure) is linked preferentially to Europe because we signed the Treaty of Rome (and other treaties). It was a choice we made – and it has proved to be the wrong choice. The EU is the only major economic area in the world which is in long-term relative economic decline. Why would we want to link ourselves primarily or preferentially to a sinking ship?
But if that’s the bad news, the good news is that Europe is one mistaken choice which we can un-make. And the Referendum is our opportunity. The UK is not naturally an off-shore province of Brussels. Our natural rôle is as a global trading nation. Outside the EU we shall be free of the stultifying and hugely expensive weight of European regulation. We shall have lower energy prices, and lower food prices. We shall be free to deepen trading links with the Commonwealth (whose GDP is now greater than that of the €urozone – and growing faster) and with other fast-growing areas of the world.
Lord Sainsbury should be asking why Switzerland – and even tiny Iceland – have free trade deals with China, while we don’t. And why the EU’s Transatlantic Free Trade Area is bogged down in interminable negotiation, when we could have had a far better UK/US deal decades ago.
Editors Footnote: Roger Helmer’s colleague Steven Woolfe started a campaign against Sainsbury’s supermarket as a result of this. Lord Sainsbury resigned as Chairman of Sainsbury’s in 1998, although he is a major shareholder, but Sainsbury’s themselves are not contributing to the “YES” campaign. However, if Kippers feel that boycotting Sainsbury’s will put pressure on the “YES” campaign… fine.
This article from Roger Helmer MEP was first published in his “Straight Talking” Newsletter, and other material from him can be seen on his blog.