Love Europe – Not the EU!

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.

You can read all of the series here.


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!

Ross England is the Conservative candidate for the Vale of Glamorgan in May's Assembly election.

20 thoughts on “Love Europe – Not the EU!

  1. “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”. Replace EU with UK and you may have something of substance. The mote in your eye, one may suggest? Finally, for the record, Britain isn’t in the EU. The state that currently has EU membership is the UK, not Britain.

  2. Isn’t it strange that the little Englader mentality actually want to see the return of Great Britain! How clever to encourage wild fears of euro nationalism, armed forces, tax raising powers etc whilst labelling the opposite camp fear! Kettle, teapot, etc., comes to mind. There are many flaws and faults inherent in the EU but it’s still a force for common good and the only way we can change it for the better I’d from the inside! We should be careful of listening to the right wing of the Tory party who long for the glory days of empire!

  3. “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.”

    The referendum is now undeniably important, but it was a fool-hardy decision in the extreme to go for the referendum. Like many, I now consider myself an EU citizen, with an EU passport and a Welsh nationality. Why should we cede all the great advantages of being an EU citizen – enhanced workers rights, greater controls on environmental pollution, enhanced health and safety regulations, collectively negotiated trade tariffs with the rest of the world, unrestricted access to work in other nations of the EU and all the rest to a Westminster clique, that will be predominantly Conservative for at least the next generation. The UK government in Westminster is more alien to a lot of people like myself than the far more consensual and agreement orientated organisation that the EU with all of its inherent little flaws actually is. We have seen from the devolved powers debacle, how Westminster struggles to relinquish the unnecessary and formidable range of controls that it has and it isn’t the EU that needs to be reigned in, but rather that the power of Westminster and the Anglo centric civil service needs to be diminished much further. If we have no choice and we are forced to have a Westminster based government, then it is in our interests for its decisions and influence to to be scrutinised at a supranational level.

    As for the negotiations –we are supposed to be pleased that even if Brexit fails, we have now conceded some important powers that protect individual rights to an alien Westminster establishment of old Etonions and Harrowvians, who only understand the term individual rights when it applies to themselves. Everything about this debate and this referendum is a retrograde step for all the people of these islands that were not fortunate to be born with the proverbial silver spoon in the gob– there is nothing great about being forced into being a Union Jack waving, UK citizen separated from the other peoples of a common Europe, many of whom we share far more in common with, than the public schooled, hereditary wealthed, Oxbridge educated, elitist establishment figures who prior to the advent of the EU, abusively strove to maintain their self interests, with disregard for workers rights and the environment, motivated only by the retention of unfettered control over their (our?) lands, laws and applying their particular twist on international relationships.

  4. Much as I respect your tone Ross, I actually have to disagree with almost everything that you say. I do agree that this is an important and difficult decision. And that there is an hypocrisy in the nationalist parties rejecting the union of the United Kingdom while lauding our union with Europe.

    David Cameroon did not bring us a good deal, a politician looking to reform the EU instead of appeasing backbenchers and UKIP might have achieved something more meaningful.

    Meaningful structural overhaul is necessary, especially in giving the people a stronger sense of democratic engagement. But demanding special treatment and threatening to leave if we do not get it is not a great way of creating a stronger, fairer union.

    Development of a social democratic United States of Europe would seem to me to be an ideal solution. That is something I would vote for. The flag is better, the anthem is better and the army might not be sent on so many foreign interventions (that may be too much to hope for).

  5. Well said. There is no doubt we need to leave and will benefit from it. I think people should note the ominous growth of really nasty parties in the eu as disillusion grows- it’s not necessarily always going to be a dictatorship of incompetent liberals.

  6. Business ‘red tape’ and rules seem to be one the main arguments by the Brexiters for leaving the EU. However, all civilised countries must live by ‘rules’ and laws otherwise there would be anarchy. Rules and regulations can also be better described as ‘protections’ for workers rights against business crime and exploitation etc etc. My question is exactly what EU red tape is so onerous to business and hindering to trade that we must forego the ‘protections’ that it affords? What substitute rules, taxes and red tape would the UK then have to impose following exit? I’m certain there would be plenty and they would take years to frame. The only winners would be the legal profession.
    Are the Brexiters suggesting that coming out of the EU would reduce the paperwork done by farmers and business? I doubt it. Taking away EU regulation and subsidy of agriculture would not lessen ‘red tape’. The regulation is there to stop farmers doing stupid things to our environment.
    Individual voters are not burdened by EU red tape and regulation at all. In 40 years I have not had to sit down in front of a vast pile of ‘red tape’ paperwork. The impositions of the UK tax authorities are far more burdensome and are real not a myth invented by Brexit paranoia.
    The main argument of the ‘little englanders’ is that we have no control over our borders. This is ridiculous. There is a physical barrier sea between us and the EU mainland. We have complete control of our borders if we really want it or need it and there really is nothing to stop us implementing complete control and erecting barriers even as a member state. Who is going to prevent it?
    The Brexiters also argue that we can’t trade with the rest of the world if we are in the EU. Duh! I wasn’t aware that we are not able trade with China or Africa or the US at present! Please clarify.
    The whole Brexit issue is a ‘distraction’ and sleight of hand designed to avoid us dealing with or thinking about more important dangers facing us.
    The only reason many will vote Brexit is to put one in the eye of the ‘established order’. This is a perfectly valid reason but not one based on arguments of the pros and cons.

  7. aledf, You describe yourself as an EU citizen, with an EU passport and a Welsh nationality. But you fail to make mention that it is largely the English taxpayer that affords you the luxury of this EU citizenship, this EU passport and this Welsh nationality. Without such largesse, generosity, call it what you will, you probably wouldn’t even exist because there’d be no NHS services in the country, let alone any law and order.

    As for sharing more in common with some of the people’s of Europe your DNA would suggest otherwise. You have everything in common with your Scottish and English neighbours and remarkably little in common with those across the water, and absolutely nothing in common with the Celts.

    Perhaps it is you who was born with a silver spoon in the mouth. After all, you don’t have to earn what you spend, don’t have within your means and don’t have to take responsibility for the lives of countless others in this nation. Indeed, you live a life so dependent upon the generosity of others you seem to have turned out greedy.

    No matter, you are still entitled to your point of view.

  8. “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.”

    There’s no inconsistency in such a position: an independent Welsh state would be treated as an equal partner in the EU – one which would negotiate on the basis of what would offer us the best way forward – rather than as the rather annoying little appendage to England which consititutes the Westminster/Whitehall/City mindset towards our nation.

    “Brexit could mean significantly more money for Wales”

    I note the crucial word ‘could’ in that sentence. Given not just history but what we can observe around us now, can you really expect us to believe that we would ever be given more than a few crumbs granted so graciously (yet so grudgingly) from the rich man’s table? You know, just enough to keep the surly natives quiet?

    Of course the EU has numerous faults and many areas for improvement, but the mature response to that is to stay in and campaign for positive change, not to hike up your Union Jack skirts in dudgeon at not always getting your own way and flounce towards the exit. I certainly don’t want to live in a country where the protections of EU membership (as outlined by aledf above) are removed and the sociopathic tendencies of the ‘British’ ruling class are allowed full and unfettered rein.

  9. Little to disagree with except that Cameron brought back absolutely nothing except a piece of worthless paper, Chamberlain style, but from a different evil empire. The UK must leave the EU before it collapses not when it collapses.

  10. Well said Nigel!

    The biggest social risks we face are not generated by the EU but by the City of London. The finacialisation of almost every aspect of life and the drive to load debt onto individuals whether via education, housing, low wages through to delayed or postponed retirements. Invented fiat money and debt created out of thin air, the drive for a cashless society all controlled by the City, those are the real threats to civic society, The return to a serfdom, a modern serfdom a financial bondage.

    It is no good blaming the EU for the neo-conservative assault that began 30 years ago, the anger is presented to the wrong target.

  11. “Brexit could mean significantly more money for Wales”

    This is where the Brexit mob drift off into a nostalgic fantasy about how wonderful Britain was before the advent of the EU. What gave rise to moves towards democracy in Wales was the appalling way the Welsh economy was managed from London. Thatcher’s devastation of the coal industry for largely political purposes provided for nothing to take its place and we are only just beginning to see a response to that catastrophe with the creation of the Cardiff Capital Region some 30 years on. We can see from the dog’s dinner of a new Welsh Act what the true nature of Westminster’s attitude is to Wales. It was written on the back of an envelope as would their attitude to the Welsh economy post-EU be.

    This is a clear case of a politician looking at Wales through ross-tinted spectacles.

  12. “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.”

    The EU is the worlds largest economy and strikes trade deals for all the EU, including the UK. These trade deals are better than anything that little UK could negotiate on its own. The UK can stand on its own two feet better within the EU than it can outside the EU. Its common sense that the EU is the worlds largest economy and our future is better staying within the EU rather than getting misty eyed about the war and our empire.

    We leave the EU we still get illegal immigration from outside the EU.
    We leave the EU and we still get bogged down in Westminster red-tape (and yes most of our red-tape is generated by Westminster not Brussels).

    Will the UK vote to leave the EU, given the medias anti-EU propaganda this week, very likely. As the Sun likes to boost, it’s the Sun “wot won it”. True then and true today the British public will vote whichever way they are told by the media.The UK tried for years to join the EU and got repeatedly turned down. The UK has repeatedly held the EU back, often being the lone voice against further integration. If the UK leaves will the EU fall apart, probably not, will the EU move towards further integration, more probable. If the UK leaves and the EU does morphs into the United States of Europe the UK will remain firmly on the fringe of the worlds largest economy and then we might has well all start getting misty eyed for the war, the empire and the old EU we left.

  13. Anyone who thinks Brexit would mean more money for Wales really has not been paying attention these past 20 years. Money not subscribed to the EU would not be spent or would be used for tax cuts for the wealthy in the dear old UK. We would lose structural funds, our farmers would lose CAP money and the Barnett consequential of zero is zero. As for the rest of Ross England’s article it has so many misconceptions and factual errors I don’t know where to start – so I won’t. Sometimes the lemmings are determined to go over the cliff and youcan’t talk them out of it..

  14. I am withnyou Mr England as distinct from myour party on this everyone will be better off withnthe demise of the eu and euro.

  15. “Sometimes the lemmings are determined to go over the cliff and youcan’t talk them out of it.. ”

    The trouble is we are all going to sucked over the cliff with them. When the dust settles and reality sinks in, the only name that will go down in history will be David Cameron – the infamous prime minister in charge when we left Europe, the person who took us to the edge of the cliff playing a dangerous game of roulette in order to appease the lunatics in his party.

    When things go wrong, everyone else will be free to pretend that they never wanted to leave in the first place, but by then it will be too late.

  16. Has no one any sense of adventure any more? So it’s a leap in the dark to exit the EU…hug the bear!

  17. “It’s … 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” – no Ross it is an entirely consistent argument. Leanne Wood is currently campaigning for the UK to stay in the EU, while her party’s long term goal is an independent Wales within the EU. I would suggest that Leanne’s arguments regarding the EU are far more principled, consistent and far less amusing, than your fellow Tory and Leave campaigner – Boris Johnson, whose campaign so far has mirrored that of the wider Leave campaign – shambolic, lacking any detail on the UK’s proposed future outside the EU and whose principle campaign strategy appears to be attack the integrity of anyone who dares to suggest the UK should remain in the EU.

  18. Karen mun,

    You don’t hold back on expressing your views do you and your post does merit a reply. You clearly believe passionately in these things, which is something I respect (intended sincerely and unpatronisingly, if that means anything at all), but I strongly suspect that we will never share common views on these things.

    After reading your post, I realised just why I feel so immensely proud to be Welsh and why I believe strongly in the concept of the EU so much. I realise that the EU has significant flaws, but I must admit that my belief in the foolishness of Brexit has been significantly fortified, by the tactics being employed by the leave campaign and the thought of all the consequences and all of the things that could very well materialise afterwards.

  19. ” 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.”

    Leanne Wood has never argued that Wales faces armageddon with Brexit. She says it’s a case of being better off staying in and that it’s in Wales’ national interest.

    So which side is putting words in people’s mouths?

  20. Sense of adventure? The point is there is nothing to be gained from exit. Anything we can do outside we can do inside and he government would spend years renegotiating trading arrangements that already exist – except for trade in services. There we have a surplus and the EU countries would be free to exclude us and make sure financial service businesses moved to Europe. Some on the Right want to leave EU so the last remaining social protections for workers can be stripped away in the interests of “competitiveness”. Yet the Germans manage to be competitive with more protections than our workers. If our workers are stupid enough to fall for that they will not deserve what they get but they will surely get it anyway.

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