Ross England says leaving the EU would result in additional resources for Wales.
Throughout the UK, politicians – elected and prospective – are wrestling with one of the toughest, and one of the most important, questions of a generation. Most importantly, however, the issue will not be settled by politicians. Instead, the Prime Minister David Cameron has delivered a referendum to give voters a say on our membership of the European Union for the first time in more than a generation.
Europe: In or Out?
This week on Click on Wales we are debating whether Wales should remain in Europe ahead of the referendum on June 23rd.
I wasn’t born when Britain went to the polls in 1975, but few would argue that our relationship with the European Union hasn’t changed beyond all recognition since then. That’s why the referendum is so important, and that’s why our Prime Minister deserves such credit for giving the electorate an opportunity to reconsider our membership.
Personally, I will be voting to leave the European Union in June. That’s not to say that the deal negotiated by David Cameron in recent months achieved nothing; in fact, I happen to believe that no politician could have achieved more than he did in the time available.
It’s just that on principle I believe that the United Kingdom would be better off outside of a ‘union’ which has become less about free trade with our European neighbours – and more about the development of a social democratic United States of Europe.
Like many of my friends, neighbours and colleagues I feel that now is the time to say “thanks, but no thanks”.
It’s not empty rhetoric to argue that Britain would be better off out of the EU, standing on our own two feet and free to negotiate trade deals with allies the world over; it’s common sense. But it’s nonetheless amusing to hear politicians like Leanne Wood simultaneously warning that Wales faces Armageddon with Brexit – but for whom Welsh independence from the UK is their raison d’etre.
Personally, I cannot imagine a reasonable case for continued membership of the EU without a complete structural overhaul, but its leaders are far too personally invested in the project to concede meaningful ground; and too wedded to the concept of ever closer political union to strip the EUs myriad layers back to a looser economic bloc.
As for Brexit itself. Anyone seeking reassurance about our place in a post-EU landscape need not worry, and should not be swayed by ‘Project Fear’. Don’t forget, these are mostly the same voices who told us we simply had to join the Euro – and look how that turned out.
On the contrary, a vote to leave the EU would present us with a wealth of opportunities to shape our own destiny, restoring our ability to trade freely around the world, and taking back control of our own affairs.
In fact, according to figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility, Brexit could mean significantly more money for Wales – despite scaremongering about the future of Welsh farming and vital regeneration funding.
In 2014, for example, (the most recent figures available) the UK’s membership of the EU had a net cost of £9.8 billion; money which, if ‘Barnetised’ would mean an additional £490 million pounds a year for Wales.
Meanwhile the UK Government’s Farming Minister has already revealed a provisional plan for agriculture in the event of a leave vote, which could include ‘area payments’ for farmers and which would tackle the unnecessary bureaucracy that farmers currently face under existing arrangements.
For me, the danger actually lies in remaining in the EU; already a proto super-state with many of the trappings of nationhood – including a flag, a parliament and a national anthem – but slipping inexorably towards tax raising powers and its own armed forces. An unelected EU commission draining power from nation states, an unaccountable EU court extending its reach every day, and an institution which subjects member states to huge fines for profligacy but which hasn’t signed off its own accounts in living memory.
That’s why I’ll be voting to leave on June 23rdand why (after May 5th) I’ll be urging others like me, who love Europe – not the EU – to back Brexit!