We will soon have to make up our minds in a referendum as to whether Mr. Cameron’s renegotiation with the EU has been worthwhile and whether we should vote to continue to be a member of the EU or whether we should leave.
We at UKIP do not believe it will be possible for Mr. Cameron to achieve any meaningful changes to our relationship with the EU, and here are a few reasons why we believe we should vote to leave.
OUR NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY: EU leaders have already told Mr. Cameron in no uncertain terms that free movement of people across borders is not up for discussion, so this particular topic has been dropped from his wish list.
If we cannot decide who can and cannot enter our country we are no longer a sovereign nation.
THE COST: In round figures we pay £20 billion a year to belong to the EU and we get around £8 billion back in subsidies and grants. There are additional costs. For example the Government still pays child benefit to 34,000 children across the EU at a cost of £30 million a year. In order to change this regulation, all 28 countries must agree. Donald Tusk, the former prime minister of Poland and now leader of the European Council, has previously stated that he would have opposed any change. Poland’s recently elected Law and Justice party has yet to announce its intentions with regard to the estimated 22,000 children in Poland in receipt of child benefit from Britain.
This demonstrates why UKIP does not hold out much hope of success for Mr. Cameron’s negotiations.
With the pressure we currently have on hospitals and healthcare, housing, schools and social care, we could put the £12 billion net cost of EU membership to far better use.
OUR WELFARE SYSTEM: Common sense says that we cannot operate a universal benefits system and at the same time have an open-door policy to the peoples of the EU. EU regulations require that all EU citizens residing in Britain should be treated exactly the same as the indigenous population — hence child benefit being paid to new arrivals for their children, regardless of whether those children move to Britain or stay at home. This “equal treatment” applies to all other benefits, too.
This is another situation that we doubt Mr. Cameron will be able to address in his renegotiation bid.
EMPLOYMENT: There are an estimated 2.3 million EU born workers employed in Britain while we have 1.8 million British people who are unemployed.
Many EU migrants are finding work in low-skilled positions and low-paid jobs. This means that British workers competing for such jobs face competition. For employers, this plentiful supply of cheap labour is good news. For British workers, it means depressed wages or the dole.
While some immigration of people with certain skills can help the economy, uncontrolled mass immigration is a drain on the economy.
We cannot address this situation unless we leave the EU.
POPULATION: The foreign-born population in England is estimated to be 8 million, 3.18 million of whom live in London.
We have all seen evidence of the pressures that population growth places on local authorities.
For example, Havering, which has the fastest growing child population of any London borough, is having to work with the Government to find thousands of extra school places over the next few years. Havering also has a large number of elderly residents, which will place an additional strain on its budget.
Queens Hospital is fully stretched, as are many other hospitals across London, and roads and transport systems are under strain.
The population of the UK is forecast to increase; while we are in the EU and cannot control our borders, the pressure on services in the future is also going to increase. We are already witnessing a major problem in providing housing for our growing population.
TRADE: The Eurozone economy is in decline. The economy of the Commonwealth overtook that of the Eurozone in 2013 and is set to overtake that of the EU as a whole by 2018. We cannot afford to tie ourselves to the declining EU. We need to trade worldwide if we are going to achieve economic growth.
At the moment we cannot sign free trade agreements with any non-EU state. Only Brussels can do that.
Norway and Switzerland, however, are free to do so. They also have the highest per capita GDP in Europe.
THE ECONOMY: If we left the EU, we would be free of the Common Fisheries Policy and able to reclaim our North Sea fishing waters and revitalise this important resource. We would also be able to support our farming and agriculture industry without the restrictions of the Common Agricultural Policy, which costs every family £1,200 per year in higher food costs. These and other benefits, added to the savings of the cost of EU membership, would give our economy a much needed boost.
The often repeated claim that 3 million jobs would be lost if we left the EU has been shown to be scaremongering. Quite apart from the fact that the last thing German car manufacturers would tolerate would be a trade war with the UK. We buy far more from the EU countries than we sell to them, so any disruption of trade would cause far more hardship to them than to us.
OUR DEMOCRACY: Because we have lived in a democracy all our lives, governed by an elected Parliament and in accordance with the rule of law, we tend to take democracy for granted, but it is something we should cherish and protect.
We only have to look at the chaos and suffering in other countries around the world to realise the value of living in a land where we can vote for our government and send it packing when it gets things wrong!
The EU is not democratic. It has the trappings of democracy but it lacks accountability. Its parliament has no legislative powers and power rests in the hands of the EU Commission, none of whom has been elected by anyone. One only has to think of former commissioners Neil Kinnock, Peter Mandelson and Baroness Ashton to get some idea of the failings in the system.
So, is the EU a threat to our democracy? Power in the hands of unelected and unaccountable people must always be viewed with suspicion and open to challenge. Laws imposed from Brussels cannot be challenged.
CONCLUSION: One good thing about Mr. Cameron’s referendum is that it might focus people’s attention on some of the serious issues surrounding the EU and Britain’s membership of it.
Too often in the past some factions have sought to stifle debate by accusing UKIP and others raising the issue of racism, being xenophobic or “Little Englanders”. The possibility of serious debate has thus been lost. The media has not exactly covered itself in glory in this regard and has contributed to the hype and bias.
Let us hope that the people of Britain will now show more maturity than some of our newspaper journalists and consider the arguments on their merits. It should be a most interesting and indeed important debate, one which will profoundly affect all our futures.