Conor's letter to the Echo.
Britain faces the most important decision for a generation in June. People of principle and patriotism are on both sides. Each should set out their reasons with positive conviction.
The late Lord Denning gave good advice saying that, “two reasonable persons could perfectly reasonably come to opposite conclusions on the same set of facts without forfeiting their right to be regarded as reasonable.” That should inform the tone of the debate that has been poor to date.
In the 1970s Britain voted to join the EEC – the ‘Common Market’. Now we find ourselves members of a European Union that has a flag, an anthem, a currency, a Parliament and a supreme Court with power to veto UK laws. I do not begrudge our continental neighbours they right to forge this political union. I simply don’t believe it is right for Britain.
Many scare stories are being put about by people who should know better about what leaving the EU would mean for jobs and security. Most are absolutely false. However outside the EU one thing will change. We will again make our own laws in the UK Parliament – elected by the British people and again fully accountable to them. The restoration of UK democracy is the fundamental consequence of leaving.
Leaving aside the fact that only 6% of UK companies export to the EU the threat to British jobs rests on the assumption that outside the structures of the EU all trade would stop. Such a notion is absurd. The UK has had a trade deficit with the EU in every year of our membership. They sell more to us than we do to them. Why would they want to end a trading relationship?
Indeed many of those who issue the dire warnings today (the CBI, IOD, big banks etc) are the very same people who warned of dire consequences if Britain didn’t abolish sterling and join the Euro. They were wrong then and are wrong again.
Their warnings on security are more bizarre still. Does anyone seriously think the UK won’s share intelligence and cooperate with our near neighbours on security outside the EU? A moment of reflection answers that.
An issue of huge importance to our local area is the English language sector. We have many excellent local Language Schools. Their students add to our diversity and they contribute to our economy. An economic impact study by Bournemouth University shows they add around £200million a year to our local economy. Yet in recent years they have been under strain. Not from the EU but indirectly from a consequence of our membership of the EU: the free movement of people within the EU.
Let me explain. Immigration has been for some years the number one issue of concern to the British public. Politicians of all shades have been trying to ‘do something’ to control it. The current Government has promised to reduce net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’ a year. It currently stands at hundreds of thousands and has done for years. Yet as members of the EU we are powerless to prevent people coming from the EU as we are signed up to free movement within the EU. There is absolutely nothing we can do to control immigration from this source.
So in order to ‘do something’ it is being made harder and harder for those outside the EU to come here. Ask anyone who works in a local language school. They will tell you the visa process has become harder. Agents abroad are increasingly placing students in countries like Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US. Our local economy is suffering because we cannot decide in this country who we wish to welcome to this country and who we do not. Outside the EU we would have a chance to control our borders.
I have a great belief in the British people. It is their energy, talent and enterprise that make us the 5th largest economy in the world. I believe they have the common sense and judgement to be able to elect a Government to make the laws under which they live. Like all of them I have one vote on 23rd June. I will be casting it with confidence for Britain to leave the EU and forge a new path as a self- governing nation that trades with the world.
MP Bournemouth West