‘I recognise and share EU frustrations’

John Howell

John Howell

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This month I have been visiting those towns and villages of the constituency that I do not usually get the chance to visit.

I recognise and share the frustrations of so many about the EU.

That is why we have not ruled out a referendum. However, now is not the time for an in/out referendum.

Europe is undergoing radical change and we should see how the Eurozone crisis will end before making decisions about our own future relationship.

What would the question be that is put in an in/out referendum?

Are we really saying that ‘out’ means ‘out’?

Most of those who claim they want ‘out’ actually want a different form of relationship with the EU – one based around the principles of free trade.

They hark back to 1975 and the referendum that took us into the EU.

So even for them, ‘out’ does not mean ‘out’. It means ‘in’ – a little bit. And what does the ‘in’ mean?

Does it really mean ‘in’ to the confusion that exists around the Eurozone? Or does it mean ‘in’ to something completely different.

We are getting out of the Euro bailout mechanism the previous Government signed us up to.

We also rejected calls to join the bailout of Greece by Eurozone countries and, in December, the Prime Minister refused to agree to a new EU treaty because our reasonable safeguards for the Single Market could not be obtained.

Furthermore, the smallest businesses are now exempt from new EU red tape and the new EU-South Korea free trade agreement will be worth up to half a billion pounds a year to British businesses.

The task now is to look at reshaping our relationship with the EU in a way which will get us a better deal.

The Government has launched a review of the balance of the EU’s competences to provide a national audit of what the EU currently does.

This will provide us with the knowledge necessary to take future decisions about our relationship with the EU and any possible referendum.