As an ardent campaigner for an EU referendum I am immensely proud that a Conservative Government has given people the opportunity to have their say on 23rd June.
People have been wrongly led to believe that remaining in the EU means that things will remain the same. They will not. ‘Status quo’ is not on the ballot paper.
The EU is planning a vast swathe of changes in the coming months and years. What we are actually voting on is whether we want the EU to decide what changes to make for us or do we want to make decisions for ourselves.
I believe that we will be better off out of the EU with the power to make decisions for ourselves. For most voters, this is lifetime once in a generation opportunity to choose our direction of travel: towards ever greater union, as a province of a country called ‘Europe’ or a return to a self-governing and sovereign country, standing tall in the world.
Remaining a member of the EU is like standing on an accelerating escalator towards a single, federalised nation state. Europe will gain increasing control of our borders and immigration, our courts, our taxation system.
The Prime Minister was absolutely right to try to renegotiate our terms and he fought hard to do so but the other 27 member states refused to move even a millimetre on the fundamental issues that the British people are concerned with. Any residual attachment to the idea that plucky Britain could single-handedly influence the sclerotic European Union should have gone out of the window there and then.
The EU is full of prejudiced ‘Little Englanders’
Despite the silly name-calling it is in fact the Remain campaign that display all the traits of being ‘Little Englanders’ or should I say ‘Little Europeanistas’.
The EU is inward looking. It talks about itself in grand terms. It harks back to a bygone age of protectionism and worst of all it discriminates against the rest of the world and forces us to do likewise.
In contrast, those who wish to leave, like myself, want to look outward. We want to trade, interact and be open to the rest of the world. We don’t want to erect protectionist trade barriers but to allow trade to flourish across the globe. We want to be able to choose who comes to our country to work and to live, not based on their European heritage but on their abilities and skills and what they can contribute.
My sense is that by voting to leave we will be able to rejoin the rest of the world which is thriving and growing and full of opportunity.
There are powerful and convincing arguments that an independent Britain would be safer, more prosperous and freer.
Trade and the economy
As a former entrepreneur and businessman and now in my role as an MP and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Ghana, my view is that Britain’s global ambitions are best served outside the EU.
The EU is weaker than the sum of its part in trade negotiations. Chile has negotiated free trade agreements worth $59 trillion. Korea, Singapore and Switzerland have all negotiated $40 trillion worth of trade deals. All have fared far better than the inward-looking EU, which has negotiated a total of a mere $6.7 trillion. The EU is not a vibrant and dynamic bloc.
You need only look at the current trade negotiations to see why. The EU free trade deal with Canada is being held up by Romanian visa dispute and the trade deal with Australia by Italian tomato growers. The EU’s fundamental problem is that it is incredibly difficult to get 28 member states to agree on anything.
Borders and Immigration
The ability to control our borders and decide who comes in and out of our country is one the most basic requirements of a nation. A nation, by definition, is contained within its geographic borders with a common government. Yet here we are in the UK, with virtually no power over our borders and immigration policy when it comes to 27 other EU members. As an EU member it is no surprise that we are less secure when anyone who holds an EU passport can simply land on our shores. In contrast those millions of people from across the globe we might wish to choose to attract to Britain are crowded out on the basis of the nationality.
So for these reasons, and so many more, I will continue to participate in the campaign to urge all British citizens to vote to look up and leave the EU in order to re-join the rest of the world.