John Redwood: To remain or leave? That is the EU question.

John Redwood’s latest blog discusses the changes in the referendum question alongside developments in the ‘Leave’ campaign

I accept the advice of the Electoral Commission. The EU referendum deserves a neutral and clear question. Remain or leave is quite straightforward and meets with general approval as fair. I will vote for that and trust the government will recommend it as an amendment to their Bill.

I read that Mr Farage does not wish to co-operate with other Eurosceptics in running a Leave campaign. He wants to run his own campaign, with one topic, that of immigration. Fine. I now hear that Mr Farage has wisely said he does wish to co-operated with the official campaign but not to run it.

I do not think it would be wise to run the Leave campaign on just one issue, however topical it currently is and however central it clearly is to an important group of voters. The reason we need to leave is wider than current migration problems. We need to leave so we can regain control over our future. We need to leave to be a free and prosperous people. We need to leave to restore our democracy. We need to leave because the EU is increasingly becoming the political union for the Euro area. We need a new relationship with the rest of the EU so we can trade, be friends and co-operate with them outside the current centralising treaties.

We do want to make our own decisions about who to invite into our country. But we also want to make our own decisions about what welfare benefits to give out, about how to regulate our banks, about how to generate our power, what price to charge for electricity, about how we can best look after our environment and who we can deport and extradite. Most of the rest of Europe is embarked on a project to create a United States of Europe. The EU is on a wild ride to political union. UK voters can keep us out of that by voting to leave the current treaties, or by accepting the new relationship Mr Cameron negotiates if he succeeds with this wider vision of fundamental change. The rest of the EU will want to trade with us and do deals with us, and many will be relieved there is no longer worry over the difficult question how does the UK have a relationship which works from inside the centralising EU, now dominated by its single currency.

I hear the government also plans to amend the Bill over the issue of purdah, or the rules over what government can do during the referendum period. As an MP who voted against their original proposal I look forward to seeing their second thoughts.

Click here to read this piece in John Redwood’s Diary.