Laurence Robertson, MP for Tewkesbury, has written this exclusive article for Get Britain Out
I have always been opposed to the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU), and the European Economic Community (EEC) before it, because membership gradually reduces our ability to make our own laws. We have 650 MPs and thousands of councillors up and down the country to do that, but we are all being increasingly impeded in that work.
In 1975 I was a year too young to vote in the only referendum which has been held on our membership of the EEC, as it was then. In that year, a majority voted for what Britons saw as membership of a trading bloc. Since then, the EEC became the EU and much more than an economic bloc – although the No vote campaign in 1975 did predict this would happen. It is therefore, overdue that we should have an In-Out referendum.
I will be campaigning and voting to Leave, because I believe we can make our own laws, control our own borders and negotiate our own trade deals better than the EU can do for us. Trade, and more specifically jobs, is one of the big issues, and is perhaps the one issue which might scare people into voting to stay in. This is the biggest issue which those advocating leaving must address. And it is easy to do so.
The stay theory goes that we will not be able to export to the EU in sufficient quantities if we leave, and that we would still have to obey the rules of the single market, without being able to influence those rules. This is nonsense. For example, Taiwan, Indonesia, China, New Zealand and other far-flung countries seem to be able to export to the EU without being members of the single market, and without obeying the rules of that market – so why can’t we?
This is visible in that the EU has just negotiated a free trade agreement with Vietnam (at last!) which will allow for two-way trade. So Vietnam – which is on the other side of the world – will be able to export to the EU, but it’s suggested we – who are 22 miles away from the continent – won’t be able to do so if we come out? It’s clearly fanciful, and doesn’t do the stay argument any good to make such points.
The main point our stay friends miss, though, is an even simpler one. The other EU countries export far more to the UK than we export to them. We have had a trade deficit with the other EU countries in every single year of our membership bar one (1988, when the pound was kept artificially weak). So, given that trade barriers work both ways, why would those other countries want to erect trade barriers which would prevent them from exporting to us? If such an unlikely situation were to arise, World Trade Organisation rules would actually prevent this from happening.