Last Friday evening I had the pleasure of attending an open meeting arranged by NEHCA where Tory MEP (and Euro-sceptic) Daniel Hannan spoke on the subject of “Europe: A Case for Voting No”.
The meeting was very well attended and included at least 6 UKIP members (well six of us owned up to being UKIP when the question was asked, but I am sure there were more closet ‘kippers in the audience).
Daniel spoke eruditely and entertainingly for 60 minutes on why he believes we would be better off out of the EU before taking questions on a variety of topics, so I thought I’d share my interpretation of his comments;
He started off by commenting that we were coming up to 5th November, the anniversary of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, and wondered how those that had valiantly protected King James from evil-doers trying to usurp the power of the English parliament would feel now as our political system is progressively emasculated by an unwelcome European invader. The ability to hire and fire lawmakers is a fundamental right of a sovereign nation but this right has, to a large extent, been removed and replaced with EU legislation over which the British people have very little say.
The majority of his narrative was centred round economics and trade and whether Britain could survive economically without being a member of the EU. The emphatic answer was yes – in fact we’d be better off;
There exists a framework, called the European Free Trade Association (made up of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein) that already has trade agreements with the EU. It would be relatively easy to adopt the same economic ties with the EU as, say Switzerland, thereby enabling us to continue trading happily with our neighbours.
The EFTA States currently have 26 other free trade agreements, covering 36 countries including Canada, Gulf States (GCC), Hong Kong and China to name a few. Note that the EU is currently struggling to get an agreement in place with China so we are already losing out on arguably the most important market on the planet.
EFTA talks are progressing well with India too, whereas the EU negotiations with India are spluttering – again we’re losing out.
There is no reason why we shouldn’t thrive outside the EU.
But won’t our leaving the EU stop them trading with us? Absolutely not;
We are Germany’s biggest export partner – are they seriously going to stop selling cars, electronics and other goods to us just out of spite, or reject a sensible trade agreement? No.
In fact, as the 6th biggest economy in the World, we are the EU’s biggest export destination. Why would any EU country stop trading with us? It doesn’t make any sense. And another thing – we do more trade outside the EU than any other EU or EFTA country so we’re not actually as dependent on the EU economy in general terms.
However the EU is currently the only continent not enjoying economic growth so why do we want to be shackled to a corpse? The Commonwealth countries are expected to grow by 7% over the coming years, surely this Anglosphere is an area we should be targeting for development opportunities.
So in leaving the shackles of the EU we would be far better able to exploit economic opportunities in India, China the Commonwealth and beyond.
These sentiments have been repeated today by Nigel Farage;
“In a recent YouGov survey commissioned by Business for Britain, nearly half of CBI members polled said they felt the cost of red tape outweighed the benefits of EU membership.
There is this deeply flawed view that leaving the EU would somehow mean a sudden end to trading with Europe. The CBI does not consider the more realistic option that if we left the single market and freed ourselves from its red tape and politicised agenda we would still be able to continue to trade strongly with Europe on our own terms. Leaving the EU would not mean turning our back on Europe.”
So what did I learn from the meeting;
Firstly that I’ll never become a conservative as I don’t own a pair of corduroy trousers – honestly, about 75% of the men there were sporting ‘cords’ and the more luridly coloured the better!
Secondly that Euro-scepticism is alive and well in this part of the country as the meeting, held at 5pm on Friday evening, still attracted nearly 150 people – the majority of whom were Conservatives.
Thirdly we, Euro-sceptics regardless of political loyalty, need to continue to spread these messages to the general population so that when the referendum comes people are fully informed of the truth and we have the best chance to succeed and prosper OUTSIDE the EU.