By: Andrea Leadsom MP, Conservative Member of Parliament for South Northamptonshire
It is now four months since the beginning of this referendum campaign when I declared my support for a Leave vote on Thursday. In that time there has been an enormous amount said and written about the arguments for and against the UK’s continued membership of the EU.
I do not intend to repeat the points I set out in my original open letter. You can read it again here (www.andrealeadsom.com/downloads/eurefletter.pdf) if you wish. But I do feel I should give an update on where I think we have got to on the core issues after so much debate.
The EU’s direction is not right for us.
The EU is set on political and economic union: it is the express purpose of the treaties and it is necessary to support the Euro. No currency zone in the history of the world has survived without political union and only we and Denmark have an opt-out. Every other EU country is in the Euro or committed to join. The EU is a Euro club and we cannot pretend we can avoid its rules and consequences.
And the EU is set on expansion – that is its history and clear intent. Five more countries are being prepared to join. Nobody knows the timetable – only the inevitable conclusion. Past experience tells us that the promise of vetoes and future referendums are of limited value in arresting this process.
We have a bright future outside the EU.
In total 170 countries in the world are outside the EU. Most of them have sensible trading arrangements, including with Europe, and workable immigration policies. This is not some fantasy land. This is the normal operating basis of four-fifths of the globe.
And we are in such a strong position to make the most of the opportunity. We are the fifth largest economy, with great natural advantages including our language, legal system, the great City of London, and our great trading history and creative and engineering talents. Nearly eighty per cent of the world’s GDP lies outside the EU and, in marked contrast to the EU, most of it is growing strongly. We need to embrace that opportunity to ensure our future prosperity.
We will continue to trade with the EU and be European.
We are the second largest economy in the EU, the fifth largest in the world. When the heat and noise of this referendum has passed and politicians in Europe have once more to calculate the interests of their electorates, they will want to continue to trade with us, and continue to access the capital their companies need through London.
Nor is this a cultural separation, although it suits some to paint it in this light. We will continue to be proud Europeans, just as much as the Norwegians or the Swiss or anyone else. Our shared history and culture, our enduring friendship and support, our very defence arrangements through NATO, these are all built on much stronger ground than just allegiance to Brussels.
We must take back control of our borders.
Freedom of movement of people within the EU would be laudable if living standards across the continent were anything like equal. Given the current disparities, however, it is placing strain on our services and depresses wages and opportunities in our labour market. It is also the back-door by which any future Euro-crisis directly and immediately impacts the UK.
Ultimately, everyone’s economy is local. Trade balances, sterling, the inflation rate – these are important macro indicators but they are next to meaningless if you are stuck on the minimum wage or can’t get access to housing or to healthcare. We must address an imbalance that has persisted for too long between the interests of ordinary people in this country and those of big business, the Brussels and London elites, and their various fan clubs.
I am clear as to my conclusions. We need to take back control of our economy, our trade, our borders and our sovereignty.
There is absolutely no doubt. The EU is yesterday’s game. The UK’s future is global. Vote Leave on 23rd June.
Andrea Leadsom MP
Member of Parliament for South Northamptonshire
This open letter was published at the request of a Parliamentary Assistant to Andrea Leadsom MP
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