Referendum is our last chance for a new start...

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HAYES IN THE HOUSE: By MP John Hayes

I’d like to thank Mark Tinsley for his open letter on the subject of the EU referendum. I know Mark is genuine in his affection for the European Union because we have discussed these things, in good spirit, over many years.

Meeting local firms –large and small- to discuss the problems they encounter with EU red tape, I am aware that though some are concerned about losing a source of labour from Europe, few -if any- expected the supply to last forever. After all, it’s hard to imagine the well-educated, English speaking children of first generation immigrants eschewing other jobs in different places.

Nationally, many businesses and investors have made clear that they are unconcerned about Britain leaving the EU. Perhaps when Mark Tinsley cites the CBI (which is part funded by the EU, by the way!), he is forgetting that the CBI supported Britain joining the Euro! (I wonder – did Mark?). My sympathies lie less with faceless corporates and more with small and medium sized firms who, by a factor of 2:1, think that the EU hinders rather than helps their businesses and say they want Westminster, not Brussels, in charge of employment law, health and safety, and trade negotiations.

Few are as dismissive of EU regulation as Mark. Red tape from Brussels costs our companies £7.6 billion each year and with much of this regulation coming from lobbying by multinational corporations, the inevitable losers are smaller businesses.

The Prime Minister has confirmed that the Government would continue to support farmers were we to leave the EU, and the farming Minister George Eustice -who is campaigning for Brexit- has pointed out that non-EU countries like Switzerland and Norway actually give more support to their farmers than Britain does now.

It’s all too easy to suppose that staying in the EU is risk free. In fact, with the EU lurching from crisis to chaos there is a good case for escaping before things get worse. The single currency debacle and the clueless European response to the migrant influx hardly suggests a risk free future in the EU. Many believe that the most likely result of these problems will be a more centralised, dictatorial European Union likely to either subsume Britain’s sovereignty or isolate us permanently. Unless we leave, Britain will be on the margin of an EU which we continue to fund but can’t influence.

It is inevitable in an advanced country that some people will choose to emigrate and others want to enter, but freedom of movement means we have little say about who or how many come and go. Brexit would not stop all those who wish to come to work in the UK from doing so, but it would mean we could control who we let in. We need sensible numbers to supply industry demands, not the uncontrolled, free-for-all migration that the UK has seen since the previous Labour government opened the borders.

The UK leads in science and technology because of our first rate universities. The idea that British scientists would stop working with their European counterparts has no basis in reality – as they work as closely with colleagues from America, Asia and around the world. Mark and other Europhiles might be surprised to learn that the European Commission recently raided €2 billion from the Horizon science budget to bail out the disastrous Euro.

It’s disappointing that too many of those in the ‘remain’ camp continually fabricate facile arguments to fuel fear. Some even accuse those of us determined to save Britain’s right to self-government of being ’little Englanders’. Well, I love little England and I love Great Britain too, and so I know that to stay great and grow greater we must look beyond the stale, introspective Europe of the past to a wider world; a world hungry for the English language, British goods and all the talents of all our United Kingdom.

The referendum on June 23rd – my birthday! – is our country’s last chance for a new start.