Saturday, 06 February 2016

Time for referendum on Britain's relationship with Europe

Well, the reshuffle is over, and no phone call from the Prime Minister! No real surprise there, but what I did find surprising is the very human story that goes with a government reshuffle.

John Stevenson photo
John Stevenson, Conservative MP for Carlisle

From afar we see it just as a movement of people – some up, some down and some sideways. But having seen a reshuffle up close, I see it as a very personal, exciting, and exhilarating experience for those on the rise. In contrast to this, there is the disappointing and rejected experience for those who have lost their positions.

Whatever we may think of politicians, we should not forget that there is a human side to politics.

Does a reshuffle matter? Yes and no. Improving performance and promoting ability is clearly beneficial – and it’s always a good way to keep ministers on their toes. But in the greater scheme of things, it is policy that really matters, and departments which are founded on sound policy will always be successful.

It is jobs, growing the economy, prices and standards of living that are the priorities for the Government – and rightly so. Nevertheless, this country’s relationship with Europe remains a topic that is very important to many, and often covered by the media.

European countries are important trading partners to Britain. European trade is good for our country but the EU goes further than that and makes many of our laws, sets out regulations and clearly has a massive impact on the way our country is run.

To be honest, for many years I was agnostic about our relationship with Europe. I saw it as a benign, even necessary, part of political life. However, since becoming an MP and being confronted with the effect that Europe has on every facet of our lives, my opinion has steadily changed.

After seeing first hand the introduction of regulation after regulation from Europe and witnessing our businesses and our own Government having their hands tied when it comes to making decisions, I now believe that the current relationship we have with the EU is simply not in our best interests. European regulations tell us what to eat, what to buy, what to sell, and even who we let into our country. I do not believe this is what we signed up to when we entered the Common Market.

There is a campaign by The People’s Pledge to have a referendum on the issue in the next Parliament. I am about to sign up to this as I believe it is time for the British people to be given a choice on their relationship with Europe.

This could be through a referendum on a radically renegotiated relationship, or it could be through an in/out referendum. Whatever it is, it is quite clear it should be for the people of this country to decide the outcome.

I have also joined an All Party Parliamentary Group calling for such a referendum and I will be launching a petition in Carlisle calling for a vote on Britain’s relationship in Europe.

It may well be that we have a referendum and the British people decide to stay in Europe. But whatever the result, it is time for the people of this country to have a say!

Conference season
October is conference season for the political parties and this year the Conservatives will go to Birmingham, Labour to Manchester and the Liberal Democrats to Brighton. Only occasionally do conferences have any major impact on the political world, but one thing which did strike me was the economic benefit such conferences must bring to these individual cities.

I believe Carlisle is remarkably well placed geographically; in good reach of Ireland, the North East, the North West and Scotland. Yet we have no real conference facilities; nor do you hear of many conferences taking place in Carlisle on a regular basis.

Are we missing out on something? We should really be exploiting our geographical location and also the fact that we are on the door step to the Lake District, The Scottish Borders and Hadrian Wall country. Surely an opportunity for our councils and private sector to capture an important market!

By John Stevenson
Published: September 27, 2012


Have your say

why not rename the tory party the round about party as they are always turning things round they are the party under mr heath that took us into the so called common market they are the party that destroyed the railways and line the pockets of shareholders with the subsides they did the same to the electric gas water boards now they are staring on the nhs they are no friend to the majority of british people oh dont forget the education farse

Posted by dem on 15 October 2012 at 12:12

Pull out of europe,even short term perhaps 5 to 10yrs,our national debt is £400 billion,it will take at least 25yrs to pay off,we contribute £64 billion pound to europe to be members,i would rather pull out pay the debt with the money saved and be back on track within 7yrs,thats one good reason why we should.Or do you want yourselves and your children having this national debt around their necks for the next 25yrs.I don't.

Posted by James O on 12 October 2012 at 13:24

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