‘FREER, stronger and better off out’ – that’s what our local MPs believe is best for Britain now that the date has been set for a referendum on whether to stay in or leave the European Union.
After the Prime Minister’s announcement on Friday, Woking MP Jonathan Lord and Surrey Heath MP and Justice Secretary Michael Gove have broken ranks from Conservative David Cameron’s camp and joined the ‘Brexit’ brigade.
Mr Lord told the News & Mail why: “We will all have just one vote. I have been following the PM’s valiant attempts to renegotiate the terms of our EU membership. The results are now known; the Referendum date is 23 June; the time for decision is nigh.
“He has negotiated with great tenacity to get a better deal for Britain, but I do not think the other EU countries were willing to give him the fundamental changes he had outlined in his Bloomberg speech in 2013. And, as a Member of Parliament, I believe our country would be freer, stronger and better off outside the EU.
“At root, I believe the decisions that govern all our lives, the laws we must all obey, and the taxes we must all pay should be decided by citizens in a transparent, democratic and accountable way.
“It is estimated that perhaps as much as 60% of our laws come from the Union: laws that govern us are decided by politicians and bureaucrats from other countries who we didn’t elect and can’t throw out. We cannot even always deport terrorist
sympathisers who shouldn’t be in the UK.
“We must be able to choose our lawmakers and then be able to ‘throw out the rascals’ when we want change. The public must have the right to change laws and elect their governments.”
Despite being a close friend of the PM and wrestling ‘with the most difficult decision of my political life’, the Lord Chancellor Mr Gove has also decided to go against Mr Cameron on the EU issue. He said: “If I didn’t say what I believe, I would not be true to my convictions or my country. By leaving the EU we can take control. Indeed, we can show the rest of Europe the way to flourish.
“Instead of complaining about things we can’t change and growing resentful and bitter, we can shape an optimistic, forward-looking and internationalist alternative to the path the EU is going down. David Cameron is an outstanding Prime Minister.
“There is only one significant issue on which we differ, and that is the future of the UK in Europe. It pains me to have to
disagree with him on any issue, but I cannot duck the choice he has given every one of us.”
Mr Lord confirmed that it would be a mistake to stay in the EU, explaining: “Our democracy has been a beacon to the world. In Britain we established trial by jury, pioneered free parliaments, abolished slavery, became the most successful trading nation the world had ever seen and, in the past century and at great cost to ourselves, we have stepped in twice to save the European continent from tyranny and oppression.
“By contrast, despite the wonderful idealism of its founders, the European Union has proved a failure on so many fronts. The euro has created economic dislocation for some of Europe’s poorest countries, and regulation has helped to entrench mass unemployment. EU immigration policies are simply not strong enough in this era of mass migration.
“When our economies need to be encouraging innovation, diversity, low taxes and low regulation, the EU too often seeks to impose the opposite. Even though the UK is outside the euro, we are still subject to an unelected EU Commission in Brussels, which is generating new laws every day, and an unaccountable European Court in Luxembourg which is extending its reach year by year.”
A big concern is the possible loss of trading in Europe, but Mr Lord believes we should be more outward looking. He said: “We can show the rest of Europe the way to succeed in an increasingly global economy. We can pioneer an optimistic, free-trading alternative to the dirigiste, regulating, top-down EU. We can save the billions we give to the EU, and get rid of unnecessary, burdensome regulations.
“We have the fifth largest economy in the world, with strong Armed Forces and an important leadership in the UN and NATO. Our economy is more dynamic than the Eurozone, and London is the greatest capital city of them all. It is time we seized our own destiny once again as an ambitious global trading nation.
“I, for one, will be voting to leave the EU and embracing that future.”