The last day of Parliamentary business proved a very busy one indeed with dozens of written statements and two oral statements in the Chamber. I will be returning to some of these subjects in the (hopefully) quieter days ahead. Today, the news is dominated by the Prime Minister’s attempt to make some very minor changes to the terms of our membership of the European Union. There are essentially four requests
- Ensure the UK is not bound by the words ‘ever closer union’ which appear in the introduction to the EU treaty.
- Ensure the countries outside the Eurozone are not treated unfairly.
- Reduce red tape.
- Prevent migrants to the UK from the EU claiming in work benefits for four years after arrival.
The first three are so meaningless they have been agreed immediately almost without debate. The fourth which most people might thing should not even be a matter which concerns the EU. It just demonstrates how powerless the UK has become that even something like deciding who receives benefits from our welfare system can no longer be decided by us.
Even if the change were agreed it would not have much effect on the numbers coming to the UK because all the figures I have seen show that only a minority claim benefits in the first twelve months which they presumably would do if that were a main reason for them coming to the UK.
The main point is that 99% of our terms of our membership are not even been debated. The U.K. will still be part of the Common Fisheries Policy the Common Agricultural Policy, we we still have to pay around a billion pounds a month (net) just to be members of the EU. Incidentally, it is the fact that we pay such a large amount each year towards the running costs of the EU that the others are desperate for us to stay.
We would still have to go begging to Brussels if the Government wanted to help industry as we have seen recently over broadband and the steel industry. It is frankly demeaning.
The suggestions that we would be isolated if we left are simply nonsense. We would be the EU’s biggest single market. The Germans would still want to sell us their cars the French their wine. I want so see us have free trade deals with all the countries in the World not just the few that make up the EU.
Britain would not only survive we would thrive outside the EU.