I was one of the 81 MPs who voted to give the British people a say on Europe. My own position is that it is in Britain's interest to remain in the EU but recognising that the union has gone far beyond its original purpose and needs to change. It now acts as a brake on European competitiveness as well as interfering unnecessarily in every aspect of our lives. It is hard to imagine us accepting the cabinet being taken over by unelected European technocrats but that is in effect what has happened in Italy. Far from protecting our democracies, the EU has become increasingly anti-democratic and by enforcing uniformity may end up leading us on the path to social unrest.
Of course Europe is not at the top of most people's minds in the current economic climate but Europe and the disastrous Eurozone experiment affects us all. If the Euro collapses in a disorganised manner everyone who holds a private pension will be affected and another credit crunch will crash into our own economy in the New Year. That said, there are many serious commentators at Westminster who feel that the Euro cannot survive in its current form. Bailing out the Euro does not mean helping struggling families and businesses in Greece but shackling them to an exchange rate that is only suited now to the wealthiest in the Euro club. I take the view that we should not continue to throw good money after bad; if the Euro in its current form is doomed then the Eurozone nations should step in and take action rather than keep delaying the inevitable or trying to scapegoat Britain.
David Cameron was absolutely right to take a stand at the recent summit. How could he have signed up to a treaty without being clear that we would be putting our economic interests first? The Tobin Tax or Financial Transaction Tax is wrongly depicted as a way to tax the rich to pay for the poor. But let's be clear, Robin Hood would hardly have been interested in bailing out European bankers or the Euro. Not a penny of that tax would have ended up helping the world's poorest and let's be clear that Britain is one of the few countries which has honoured a commitment to give 0.7% of GNI towards overseas aid. It is high time that the rest of Europe followed suit. If a worldwide FTT could be agreed then it would have a chance of success and I would support this, but to introduce it in a manner that ensures Britain picks up the bill for the Euro and loses tax income that currently goes to funding our own schools and hospitals, would be grossly irresponsible...not least because the transactions can all move to markets further afield at the touch of a button.
There are those who oppose David Cameron's stand but if my postbag is evidence of the public mood, then the letters in favour of my vote on the referendum and on David's refusal to bow to European pressure are anything to go by, then this constituency is solidly Eurosceptic by about 20 to 1. As it happens all those who predicted that we would be isolated in Europe are wide of the mark; already other nations are slipping away from signing up to a treaty. I hope that one day Britain will be able to lead with a vision for a more loosely bound Europe; one that is far less expensive and bureaucratic, that accepts diversity in Nation States and one that returns to its original purpose in promoting free trade in goods and services.