People often say I criticise the Labour Party too much but then I am a Conservative MP, so it goes with the territory. There is also a lot to take a pop at frankly - with an unelectable leader and a collection of clapped out policies and virtual civil war amongst the comrades.
But fair’s fair: I am not averse to taking issue with my own party, if merited. And this week’s draft agreement on EU reform presented by the Prime Minister to the nation on Tuesday is just such an occasion. It’s a turkey.
Readers will know that I resigned from a Government post in 2011 to campaign for an EU referendum and that I have always been a firm supporter of a strong sovereign Parliament in the UK, making its own laws and accountable to the British people and tough but fair immigration controls. It was on this basis that I backed the Conservative manifesto commitment for an In/Out referendum, to give the electorate the first vote on European matters since 1975 and only a Conservative majority Government has delivered this pledge.
But what disappointment at the agreement which David Cameron has made with the EU bureaucrats. An agreement he has lauded as a “great success”.
It’s been a lost opportunity for fundamental reform and long term renegotiation, at a time when the EU is lurching from one crisis to another and where its democratic deficit has never been more acute. Nothing substantial on repatriating powers from Brussels, on tougher immigration and benefits or being outvoted by the other 26 countries or protecting the sanctity of our Parliament.
Crumbs from the table and frankly embarrassing. The 5th largest economy in the world has to go cap in hand to the corrupt, high regulation, backward looking customs union to ask permission to police its own borders. How humiliating!
People don’t vote for ideas alone. They vote on pocket book issues like jobs, mortgages and pensions and that’s as it should be.
We have a massive trade deficit with the EU and a huge surplus with the rest of the world and yet we’re told that we would be “isolated” as a free and independent nation trading globally. Within 20 years the EU’s share of trade in any case will be only 1 in every 6 dollars and the straitjacket of the EU will still prevent us from unilaterally signing trade deals with growing economies in Africa, Asia and South America, costing British jobs and business prospects.
As I write, Project Fear is under way to hoodwink enough people with bogus figures about job losses so that they are cowed into supporting what will become an ever more distant, arrogant, elitist bureaucracy and then, once the British people have voted to remain, the last vestiges of independent Parliamentary democracy and autonomy will vanish.
And yet it doesn’t have to happen. The electorate can trust their hearts and their heads, reject the advice of the elite, the commentariat, fat cat big business and those with their tickets on the Euro gravy train and vote for a positive future as a proud independent nation, co-operating where necessary with our friends and partners across Europe.
Regrettably, not least because I wished him well, David Cameron has proved this week that the EU is un-reformable and that’s why I and so many of my constituents in Peterborough, will vote to leave. Whenever the referendum comes.