Time to move on from the EU project

James Davies MP explains why he will be voting to leave the EU.

The truth is that the EU is a largely political project and Britain has always been a reluctant partner of it. It’s time to move on.

Over 40 years on from the UK’s referendum on continued membership of the then European Economic Community, it is right that a new generation of voters be given a say on our remaining part of what is now the European Union. Much has changed since 1975 and throughout that time, the UK has often been seen as a reluctant partner of the EU. It was clear during my lengthy campaigning in the run up to the 2015 General Election that the promise of an “in/out” referendum was popular and furthermore that a significant minority of local people in my Vale of Clwyd constituency wished, unprompted, to express their support for leaving the EU. A recent opinion poll in Wales demonstrated an 8% lead for the campaign to leave. The delivery of a referendum on 23rd June this year satisfies a clear election pledge which I recall some were disbelieving of in the run up to May of last year. That very fact is a victory for democracy in itself.

As a child of the 1980s, I know of nothing other than life within the European Union. I recognise its great contribution to post-war stability in Europe and in expanding western democracy to the former Eastern bloc, much of which I have visited and taken a particular interest in. I also celebrate the economic benefits that free trade agreements have brought. Like everyone else, however, I am very aware of the many failings of the institution.

For some, the very existence of the EU has been a continual irritant. For most, the European Union has never featured near the top of their list of political concerns. I fall in that latter category; it is not in my view reasonable to blame most of our ills on the EU, foreigners or migrants and I have very often tired of certain politicians and tabloids whose agenda can revolve around little else. In that respect, I am content with the idea that the UK could continue to remain an EU member state post-June. However, this referendum should not be about what we can “live with” but rather what gives our country and our children the best chance of a bright and prosperous future.

Until recently, I assumed that Britain’s future was likely to be best served by remaining a member of the European Union, but the national debate and local feedback triggered by the impending vote has made me think somewhat differently.

Top of the list in favour of a “leave” vote is that the UK would regain control of democratic decision-making over its borders and many other powers, and thereby its own destiny. Additionally, the UK is a net contributor to the EU and what money we do receive back must be spent in a way dictated by the EU. We could instead, as an independent sovereign nation, spend more wisely ourselves an amount equivalent to our existing EU contributions. We can potentially ensure that those parts of our country, Universities, farming and cultural sectors that have in recent times qualified for EU funds can be considered as recipients of similar assistance via a UK government scheme. This will be of interest in my constituency, which has been entitled to EU Structural Funds under the Convergence Programme – albeit with often unconvincing results.

However, if a vote to leave is to be secured, the campaign will require strong, informed, engaging and reassuring leadership and will need to demonstrate that the following issues have been seriously and effectively considered:

1. The future prospects of continuing free trade agreements within Europe (which countries such as Germany surely need with us as much as vice versa); with other countries as part of existing bilateral agreements with the EU; and how these tie in with commitments we would need to make over employment regulations, free movement and EU budget contributions.

2. The future integrity of the UK, versus the threat of Scottish separation. The SNP supported an “out” vote in 1975 but now strongly advocate continued EU membership. They threaten a second Scottish independence referendum in the event that Scotland votes to remain in the EU and the rest of the UK votes to leave. Could it be that the SNP fear that in an independent UK, its constituent parts would be brought closer together?

3. The future ability of the UK to work closely with other European nations and the international community in general towards important common goals, including the sharing of intelligence to increase our security and protect against common threats.

Should Britain vote to remain in the EU, the concessions won by the Prime Minister following his intense renegotiation efforts will be welcome. The protracted discussions at the recent EU Summit suggest that the policies pursued were of substance. Even so, it is also worth considering that the difficulties in reaching agreement suggest the near-impossibility of our ever being in a position to secure agreement for the fundamental changes many want such as the regaining of border controls.

For me, the arguments for and against remaining in the EU are finely balanced but the end, I believe we need to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that the true and over-riding EU agenda of ever-closer integration is one we have never shared. While there are some aspects of the EU which suit the UK, we can pursue these in other ways while freeing ourselves of the many aspects which do not.

So, I am minded, although by a relatively small margin, to vote “leave”.

Ultimately, my vote in the referendum will carry no more weight than the vote of any other citizen of our country, and with four months of debate still to go, the views of many may yet change. All are united in wanting what is best for our country – let us hope that the debate to follow is well-informed and focuses on the important issues – not just on mobile phone roaming charges, duty free purchases or the colour of our passports.

James Davies is the MP for Vale of Clwyd.

11 thoughts on “Time to move on from the EU project

  1. Firstly, border controles. as we now know them. only started in about the 1860s and the Uk borders, like everone else’s (with the notable exceptions of Communist China under Mao, the Soviet Union, East Germany and North Korea) have leaked like sives and continue to do so. Tightening up the borders will not improve security or reduce immigration. The only difference will be a higher cost in beauraucracy for very little change in performance: higher costs in exporting and importing: more paperwork and longer waiting times.

    Secondly, Unionists (like you) support “ever closer union” as you clearly state. The difference is you want England dictating it to others rather than working together as equals. This is the ONLY reason for this referendum.

    Thirdly, its been made clear by the English Sepparationists that they want to reduce employment rights and wages to increase profits for their English Establishment. The also want to limit human rights to the same group and bring in more taxes like the Bedroom Tax.

    Forthly, if the result is for out there will have to be at least another refferendum to decide the terms of out. It is conceivable that all out options are rejected by the electorate. What happens then?

    Fifthly, the UK is less democratic than the EU and our Economy is dominated by the financial City of London which is the most inefficient economic sector in the UK and probably the most corrupt. That’s why the Mafia and other criminal organisations have such a large presence in London. It’s not only a Tax Haven for them but it’s regarded as the world’s main centre for money laundering. The UK (both Labour and Tory) was the main culprit behind the 2008 crash which is still reverberating. If the Euro is a basket case so is the Pound and it was the UK that started it not Europe.

    Sixthly, the EU is a democratic union governed by its members. The Uk is a union of force, subjugation and oppression. That’s why we should be out of the Uk but in the EU. People who favour the UK are the far right Imperialists and Colonialists. Do you want to destroy British culture and Identity with them? Do you want to see the Welsh Rugby and Football teams as feeders to England. as they do? That’s what you’re siding with.

    Finally, the English are NOT racially supperior and they get out-voted in the EU like everone else – it’s called democracy! They will not get better terms with the EU outside rather than in. England has been in political and economic decline all through the 20th Century. It’s only the EU and Scottish oil that’s propped them up.

    England has made virtually none of the political and economic reforms that it needs to do to stop its decline. As this refferendum shows they’re still stuck in the 19th Century and those are just the political establishment avant garde!

  2. You should remember that you represent Wales not England. Wales gains from Eu Membership. Just look how many large projects in Wales are funded by the EU. By voting to leave you are betraying the Welsh nation.

  3. ” By voting to leave you are betraying the Welsh nation.” Only if “The Welsh Nation” disagrees with him. It;s by no means clear that we, The Nation, is all that sure. The most recent YouGov/ITV shows an 8% lead for leaving the EU.

  4. “The future integrity of the UK, versus the threat of Scottish separation.” Strange for a separatist like James Davies – i.e as someone advocating UK separation from the EU – to be critical of movements advocating Scottish self-determination. But then these are strange, and highly xenophobic, times.

  5. James, does your electorate know you’re taking this stance?

    the relationships between the nations of Europe will remain whatever the formal governmental structure; the trick is in formalising around a meaningful equitable and just arrangement that beneifts all: leaving the present setup doesn’t give you a tabula rasa

  6. I realise that for the Leave campaign the elephant in the room is that their own victory might lead to Scottish Independence, so it must be downplayed at all costs. However, James’ paragraph relating to Scotland highlights how utterly detached from the reality of the politics and opinions in Scotland, are those in UKIP and the right of the Tory party. It is frightening that a sitting MP can look at today’s Scotland and state that the “SNP fear that in an independent UK, its constituent parts would be brought closer together” by a vote to leave the EU!

    I would suggest, that a UK, that has left the EU, against the wishes of the Scottish people; which will inevitably be governed by a Tory party that has lurched to the right, will result in a whole swathe of voters Scottish voters from the centre and centre left moving over to the Independence camp, smashing the UK’s union asunder, rather than bring it closer together.

    It is ironic that in their pursuit of their nirvana and the constitutional purity, of a UK out of the EU, the right are pursuing a policy that will, if successful, at some point lead to a second Scottish referendum. Similar to the Conservative and Unionist fight against Irish Home Rule in the 19th century, this battle by James and his fellow Tories, may also end up as a monumental pyrrhic victory.

  7. “Top of the list in favour of a “leave” vote is that the UK would regain control of democratic decision-making over its borders and many other powers, and thereby its own destiny.”

    It’s destiny being what precisely? The outers trot this one out with monotonous regularity and no explanation of what it means. How do you control your destiny in an increasingly interconnected and uncertain world? I do not doubt Mr Davies’ sincerity, in particular I respect his recognition of how close the call for him. I fear his optimism is misplaced, but that’s better than the disingenuosity of some of his fellow-outers. He strikes as the sort of chap who should be keeping better company.

  8. Mr Davies has put a well balanced view across. The EU project is dead killed off by stagnation due to an overbearing political creed of the left. Who have brought much enterprise to its knees. This was never the way for the uk.
    I firmly believe that we will be far stronger in the world and we are not alone as many would have you believe. We need to reform our union which has served this country and its people so well. We need to then get a fiem grip of being in the worlds biggest free trading market of which the uk was the founder and thats The Commonwealth. With a gdp thats currently bigger than China and set to break trade records in 2020 especially in the far less costly inter country commonwealth trade that has none of the red tape of the stagnant eu. The Commonwealth has twenty of the worlds fastest growing economies and trade on five continents. A new reformed and stronger union in the uk would further strengthen this and Wales has a brilliant future inthe Commonwealth with being able to be the host lead nation for a year in the future if we go this way. This is something that both scotland and Wales would never get in the eu. The Commonwealth has the brilliant Westminster Charter which is everything the left could wish for. The Commonwealth is a family of nations of fifty three countries with a common birthright. The British Empire is much derided by theleft for the last sixty years. But post empire. These countries do not hate us, if so why does the Commonwealth exists. To the contrary they all now benefit from many british values. The Commonwealth is the most stable grouping of trading countries in the world today and a real alternative peaceful future to American, Russian or Chinese ideology. The Commonwealth has the poorest and richest nations in one group and all would benefit including Wales whose citizens are made up now of many Commonwealth peoples more so than those from the eu. Just look at the facts for yourself. Go to http://www.thecommonwealth.com I for one cant wait to get out of the stifling eu. Then maybe we can change the redundant political structure of our country and sweep the old dead parties out of power and give citizens the real voice and power they collectively need.

  9. You cannot ask both for complete sovereignty and access to the single market. You can have either but not both. Access to the single market means you abide by the rules and regulations of the single market – rules and regs that the British helped to construct and all of which we agreed. We can retain access, like Norway or Switzerland but have no ability to influence the rules and still accept that we have to pay a sub and have free movement of labour – as those countries do. Or we can get out in which case we would have to face the tariff and non-tariff barriers around the single market. JGJ’s point above is also correct. Wales is a net recipient of EU funds, If you think a Conservative UK government would maintain farm support and regional assistance on the same scale as the EU you are in dreamland. And the EU does not dictate in detail how we spend the structural funds money. That is up to us. If projects have not been well chosen or designed that is a failure of Welsh government. Physician heal thyself. And James Davies, for heaven’s sake do your homework.

  10. “Could it be that the SNP fear that in an independent UK, its constituent parts would be brought closer together?
    If this represents James Davies’ analysis of the mood in a part of the UK which effectively annihilated his fellow British nationalist politicians, Labour. Libdem and Tory alike it’s unbelievable.
    Even if it’s just a question there’s only any logic to it if the question goes –
    If we pretend the last general election in Scotland didn’t happen could it be SNP fear that in an independent UK, its constituent parts would be brought closer together? !

  11. Nice article on R4 this lunch time explaining how our brethren in the Commonwealth (New Zealand) are aggressively exporting lamb to UK which has collapsed Welsh lamb prices.

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