The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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Solutions for the EU

Barry Legg

SolutionsfortheEU

Thank you very much indeed Mr Chairman. My solutions for the EU, we need to get out of the EU. That is the solution, there are no other solutions.

I’m glad to see my former colleague, Christopher Gill; what a fine Member of Parliament he was and what a fine parliamentarian. And we did everything we could when we were together in the House of Commons to try and stop further powers going to the EU and Christopher and I fought tooth and nail to keep Britain out of the Euro and also to stop what has now turned out to be the complete nonsense of the Euro zone with country after country hitting very, very serious economic problems.

Christopher and I foresaw all of this 18 years ago, but would the powers that be listen? No they wouldn’t and now we are reaping a really bitter harvest.

While I’m in Wolverhampton I’d also just briefly like to mention Nicholas Budgen, one of the finest parliamentarians I had the honour to know. A great parliamentarian, a great man of independent thought and he really served this country well speaking from the back benches of Parliament for the country and for conservatism. And it’s a great shame that we haven’t got more Nicholas Budgen’s in there at the moment.

Now unlike many speakers on the EU I’ve not come here tonight to engage in a deceit. Those that claim that we are winning the argument or we are gaining influence in the councils of Europe or that their government has plans to regain powers from the EU or those that claim that the sovereignty of the British Parliament is going to be put beyond doubt by their government, all of those people who put forward those arguments are living a lie, it’s as simple as that.

The Treaties that successive Governments, Labour and Conservative, have signed with the European Union have no mention of delegating powers or a looser federation. Every Treaty emphasised the principle of ever closer union. That is what the EU is all about, ever closer union. Its not about handing powers back, it’s about taking more and more powers and we see that process evolving.

Now many of us who voted to join the EU did so because we were told that it would bring economic benefits, but the truth is that political union has always, from the very beginning, been the objective.

And I’d just like to go back a few years, its remarkable looking at some of the analysis that was done 40 or 50 years ago and I’ll start with Hugh Gaitskell, the leader of the Labour Party, and what he said in October 1962. He said, and I quote:

“What exactly is involved in the concept of political union? We must be clear about this. It does mean the end of Britain as an independent European state; it does mean the end of 1000 years of history. Britain will become a province of Europe, which is what federation means.”
How right he was. The analysis he did nearly 50 years ago, he had the documents and agreements to work from but his analysis was right and the analysis that was done by Enoch Powell a few years later came to exactly the same conclusion as Gaitskell, that it was a political union in which Britain became a province of Europe.

Now we have had the benefit and the sadness of seeing that all evolve, we’ve had the experience of it.

Now I believe the question that we face is the same one that Gaitskell put 48 years ago, do we want Britain to be governed as a province or do we believe in self-government, it’s as simple as that. Do we believe? Do we want self-government? Do we want the people of this country to govern themselves?

And I believe our history, our traditions, our legal system; our democratic processes are different from those of the countries of continental Europe. I believe that our traditions of free trade and our global vision equip us better to prosper in the modern competitive world than the centralised interventionist regulator traditions of continental Europe.

Today our membership of the European Union undermines the very prosperity of our country and it also represents a lie at the core of our political system. Our politicians are in total denial as to our true relationship with the European Union, they are engaged in a subterfuge to disguise where power really lies. And I believe this is a cancer eating away and undermining the democracy of which we are so rightly proud.

Respect for the law is undermined when people realise that they don’t have any power over the people making our laws and over 84% of our laws now originate in Brussels.

It almost seems that the political class having given independence to our former colonies then began to doubt our own ability to govern ourselves.

Apart from the European Union we’ve also transferred the jurisdiction over many of our basic rights to a court in Luxembourg which oversees the European Convention on Human Rights. Now no foreign court should be in the position to tell us that we must give prisoners the vote and unless we give prisoners the vote we will face a massive fine. No foreign court should be in that position.

And the time has surely come for the British Government to renounce any jurisdiction that this court has over the rights of the British people.

Mr Chairman, our country today faces probably the greatest economic challenge its faced since the 1930s but I believe our efforts to extricate ourselves from those problems are hampered by our membership of the European Union.

Now there was a time when our politicians hinted that they had entered into a Faustian pact whereby substantial chunks of self-government had been given away in exchange for economic benefits of EU membership. But I’m afraid that the supposed economic benefits are now clearly outweighed by economic burdens from the EU.

And there are three areas in particular in which the European Union is harming our economy. And just to get this harm that its doing into context, I’d like to remind you that all this controversy that we’ve had about public spending and cutting waste and cutting services, the total amount that’s going to be saved in the current year from all these changes, the total reduction in planned spending, not actual spend, planned spend, is a sum of £15 billion and if we bear that sum in mind and look at it in terms of the some of the harm that the EU is doing to us, we can see how substantial the damage is.

First of all we’ve got the high cost of business regulation. Even the EU Commission itself estimates that the cost of business regulation across the EU is €600 billion and our share of that would be about 10%, about £60 billion. And compare that, that’s four times greater than the sum that we are trying to save from public expenditure in the coming years. What a burden we’re faced with.

In this dire situation that we’re facing our Government should be cutting taxes and removing excessive regulation. Now it does not have the sense to do the former and it does not have the power to do the latter.

Secondly, the EU increases our public expenditure by no less than £19 billion a year. £19 billion! That’s higher than the £15 billion we’re trying so hard to save, £19 billion higher.

Now admittedly some of that money comes back to us but it only comes back to us to be spent in ways in which the European Commission would like it to be spent and those are many areas in which if we ourselves had the decision, we would decide that the expenditure was wasteful.

Now thirdly, another of the great mistakes that we’re seeing. Our Government has foolishly agreed to make payments to Euro zone countries in order to keep them in the Euro zone which has wrecked their economies, could you believe it! They just must be mad.

As you know we’re sending £7 billion to Ireland and we’ve got another £13 billion waiting to be sent to the Euro zone countries generally. We’re up to £20 billion on that one. Once again waste.

Now the only way, the only way that Ireland can actually regain its prosperity and all those other countries can regain their prosperity, the only way is for them to come out of the Euro, come out of the Euro, have your own currency again.

George Osborne says, oh its good neighbourliness. Good neighbourliness giving Ireland £7 billion and they stay in the Euro zone and they wont get out of the crisis and all we’ve done is thrown good money after bad.

Now in opposition, you remember our time in opposition; the leaders of the Conservative Party were full of fine words about getting powers back from Brussels. You’ll remember all of that. But since taking office the idea of getting powers back has been dropped and what are we doing? We’re giving them more powers. Unbelievable!

Britain still has a very powerful financial services sector and it’s still a global force. Its once of the three main financial sectors in the world but this Government, what has it done? It’s agreed that it will be regulated on behalf of Brussels by a former French Agriculture Minister. It defies belief.

Now the UK will still have a say in the regulation of the City of London, it will still have a say but who else will have a say? Those great financial powerhouses Malta, Hungary all of those countries will be sitting down and helping to decide how the City of London is run.

One recalls the words of Enoch Powell when he said, ‘Those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad’.

Indeed ladies and gentlemen, we are quite simply better off out. There will also be the benefit that the United Kingdom as a self-governing state would regain control over its own borders. We need to be able to decide for ourselves in this country which people may or may not live in our country.

The views of the British people as far as immigration is concerned are very clear and it’s about time that British politicians implemented legislation which reflected those views. Instead we still have asylum seekers flooding into this country to take advantage of our over-generous benefits system and the European court decides the rules of the game.

The judiciary in this country should be responsible for interpreting legislation passed by the British Parliament and not subject to direction from a foreign court.

Now Britain has for centuries welcomed refugees, those refugees seeking a safe harbour in our country, but those refugees, poor as they might have been, accepted that they were responsible for the welfare of their families and in some cases they established businesses which this country is still benefiting from today.

Regrettably today, so many so-called refugees are attracted to our country purely because of our over-generous benefits system and they are aided and abetted in their endeavours by the European court sitting in Strasbourg.

Now Mr Chairman, I believe that Britain is a compassionate society but we should not be a soft touch. At a time when Britain’s finances are in a perilous state we should not be spending billions of pounds on overseas aid. We should not be sending billions of pounds to undemocratic countries when we are asking our own people to make sacrifices.

If we were not EU members we would be free to cut trade barriers, which discriminate against the produce of third world countries. That would be the greatest contribution that we could make to spreading prosperity throughout the third world.

Incidentally, doing that would also have the benefit of reducing the average annual food bill for a family in this country by £1,500 a year.

Now Mr Chairman, some of you may remember that President Roosevelt famously said at the time of the Great Depression in 1933 that the American people had nothing to fear except fear itself.

The same is true of us leaving the European Union. The greatest problem in this country today is that we are ill served by self-seeking dishonest politicians. Too many of our politicians are not proud of our country, they are not proud of its traditions and achievements and many of them even seem to take a perverted feeling of guilt about our heritage.

Now I know that most of you are proud of our traditions and believe in the benefits of self-government. And its now time for true conservatism to be reasserted. Its time to accept that there is a better and more prosperous way of life beyond the confines of the European Union. Its time to assert that self-government works best and that this great country will be better off out.