Priti Patel makes the case for Wales to leave the EU.
Wales is a proud country which would be better off, more secure and enjoy greater prosperity by voting to leave the EU in the referendum on 23 June. Leaving the EU would mean that families and businesses in Wales would no longer have to fork out nearly £650m a year to pay towards the UK’s membership fee. That’s over £16 billion since joining the EU in 1973, which goes to the EU’s wasteful, corrupt and bureaucratic institutions which have not had their accounts given a clean bill of health in over 20 years.
Leading up to the referendum on June 23rd, we’ll be publishing some key figures’ arguments for and against remaining in the EU.
Would you entrust your savings to bank that had a track record of poor financial management, or hand money over to a conman? No you wouldn’t. But membership of the EU gives unelected bureaucrats the power to pillage our pockets in the most expensive daylight robbery in history.
In the years ahead, we look set to be paying in even more money. Membership of the EU means that your taxes will continue to be systematically taken from you and spent on wasteful bureaucracy, pet projects, and on often-dubious schemes in far-flung parts of Europe.
Just think, instead of your money and taxes going to Brussels, it could instead be spent in Wales on your priorities. That £650m taken from Wales by Brussels could pay for 4 new hospitals, one-third of the schools budget, or five times the road and transport maintenance budget. Voting to leave the EU means that your taxes will be spent on your priorities.
Leaving will also strengthen democracy and devolution in Wales. Instead of the EU deciding how money in Wales should be spent, more decisions will be made by elected politicians accountable to you in the Welsh Assembly, local councils and the UK Parliament. They would not only have the freedom to set the laws and rules that are in the best interests of Wales – but control over the financial resources to back up their decisions.
The costs of the EU are far higher than the annual membership fee. Rules and regulations made by the EU’s out of touch pen-pushers have severe consequences on business. Wales has over 200,000 small and medium sized enterprises, which are responsible for three-quarters of all jobs in Wales and nearly 60% of turnover. All of these businesses are hit hard by the coats of EU rules even though most do no trade with the EU. Why should your local village store or high street shop pay the price of the EU’s plans to create a European superstate?
The EU also stands as a barrier to us giving support to businesses in need. When the Welsh steel industry needed intervention, both the Governments in Westminster and Cardiff were limited in what they could do by the EU. Membership meant it took Commission bureaucrats fifty days to approve a state aid application, a delay that cost jobs and millions of pounds. We are also powerless to set tariffs to protect Welsh and UK businesses from the Chinese dumping under-priced steel on the British market. When an important Welsh industry needs help in the future, we are in a far weaker position to assist while we remain in the EU.
By voting to leave the EU, we can take back control of these laws and set sensible regulations that support employees, investment, job creation, and growth in Wales.
Leaving the EU would also mean we can take back control of our borders and end the high levels of uncontrolled immigration that put our housing, NHS, schools and other public services under such pressure. Figures released last week showed that the numbers of immigrants from the EU living and working in the UK was one and a half million more in the last five years than previously thought. That’s the equivalent of half the population of Wales. Over the next 20 years Wales is predicted to need to increase its housing supply by at least 10%, but with immigration far higher than previously thought, more people could find themselves struggling to find a home.
Wales has always been welcoming to migrants from across the world and has been a leader in integration and community cohesion. But when we see long queues for GP appointments, a shortage of housing, and school places under pressure, it is obvious that the EU’s free movement free-for-all is hurting Wales and the rest of the UK. While we need migrants to fill Labour shortages in some sectors and should provide sanctuary to those in genuine humanitarian need, membership of the EU means we often end up excluding the brightest and the best from the rest of the world as we take in more lower skilled migrants from Europe. We can only control immigration effectively and introduce a fair and sustainable system if we leave the EU.
On top of all of these problems caused the EU, Brussels and its sycophantic cheerleaders have sought to treat the Welsh public like fools. For years they have tried to trick and frighten people into thinking that their prosperity is in some way dependent on EU support and membership. This illusion of dependency is wrong. All the EU schemes that provide money to Wales, such as regional development funds and support for farmers, are paid for by your taxes. It’s not EU money, but your money – from the taxes taken from your pay packets and from the tills of businesses. The UK pays twice as much into the EU as it gets back, which means that by leaving the EU we can continue to provide support to these sectors in a less bureaucratic way and have more left over to spend on other priorities.
It is also important for the people of Wales to know that when the EU planned to allocate structural funds for the period 2014-2020, its lack of knowledge of Wales meant that the Commission sought to impose savage cuts on these funding streams for Wales. These reductions were significant and would have taken hundreds of millions of pounds out of the Welsh economy. The UK Government reallocated some of the funding from England to Wales rebalance some of the shortfall. But the fact that the EU Commission plotted to hit Wales hard with cuts demonstrates that the Welsh people would be better off out of the EU and with the future funding for these types of projects determined by politicians accountable to the electorate here.
What’s more, there is no guarantee that these EU branded funds will continue beyond 2020. The Government cannot give any indication of what the funding levels will be and if they will exist at all. But with high demands on resources from other parts of Europe and from countries like Turkey that are looking to join the EU, Wales and the UK look certain to see further reductions in these funds beyond 2020. The EU planned deep cuts before and will do so again. The only way to prevent this from happening and to give the Governments in Cardiff and Whitehall free choice how to spend this money is to vote to take back control and leave the EU.
With its strong national identity, Wales would thrive if free from the costs and demands of the EU. Voting to leave on 23 June is the safe and secure choice for Wales.