Many of your readers will know that four out of five East Midlands MEPs are backing Brexit. I hope you will allow me to explain my reasons for coming to this difficult decision.
I did not become an MEP to advocate the UK’s exit from the EU. I hoped that fundamental reform – full-on treaty change reform – of the EU was possible. It is certainly needed.
The UK’s modest set of reform proposals, now watered down by our European partners, tells me there is no appetite for doing things truly differently in the EU.
My optimism further diminishes knowing that the Prime Minister was dealing with the European Council – the least federalist branch of EU governance. The changes would have to be implemented by the European Commission. And the European Parliament has to approve the deal, but that will not happen until AFTER the Referendum has taken place. Who knows what further dilutions and amendments they will seek to impose? I do not… and I am an MEP!
Finally, there is the European Court of Justice it has the final say in all matters of EU law. If a Heads of Government agreement conflicts with existing EU treaties, the treaties win.
The EU does have its good points such as the Erasmus+ student exchange scheme, Horizon 2020 scientific research and development programme, international trade deals and the Single Market.
However, there are significant drawbacks:
- over-regulation and interference
- loss of sovereignty
- the huge transfer payments we make – £350 million a week
- the continuing aim for an ever-closer union
- the lack of control over our borders and over migration
Taken together these outweigh the benefits.
No one has a crystal ball. But the idea that a future inside the EU is safer than outside is not borne out by recent history. The EU has just thrown billions at an autocratic Turkish regime for a bizarre migrant swapping scheme. It is unlikely Turkey will be able to implement it and it will give 77 million people free access to the EU.
In an uncertain world it must be safer to have the ability to react, adapt and change yourself. Or would we rather be tied to 27 other countries’ agendas and problems? That is why – on balance – I believe the UK would be better off leaving the EU.
Andrew Lewer MBE MEP