Below is an article I wrote for "Barton Today" - the excellent monthly Parish magazine for Earls Barton.
I'm pretty sure those who are interested know my views on Europe, referenda and the like (please click this link to see when I expressed them in Parliament: http://daventrycalling.livejournal.com/38107.html
; but they are explained a little more here:
For me it has been a busy few days in Parliament. As you will have seen on TV, a raft of new Parliamentary Bills have been proposed by the Coalition Government and were announced as part of the Queen’s Speech.
There are some hugely important pieces of legislation which will affect us all and have an impact over many years. These include the Energy Bill, the Carers' Bill and the Pensions Bill.
One new Bill, unsurprisingly, got the most coverage on the day - a Bill which is desperately needed now: the Immigration Bill.
It will clamp down on those from overseas who abuse our public services. It will do so by stopping immigrants accessing public services which they are not entitled to and compelling landlords of private housing to check the immigration status of tenants, facing fines if they don’t.
It will also make it easier to remove people from the UK by legislating to ensure that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to family life) is not abused. Courts will have to balance the crime committed against the criminal’s right to remain in the country.
Probably the most important political event of the last few days, however, was not an announcement by the current Government, but was the decision of one of the post war period’s most successful Chancellors of the Exchequer, Lord Lawson, to speak out in favour of leaving the European Union.
He believes that the chance of any meaningful renegotiation of our status within the European Union, is negligible.
I disagree. I believe we should try and do something that our country has never tried before and endeavour to negotiate a better deal for Great Britain in Europe. As one of the leaders of the "Fresh Start" project in Parliament which has outlined things we need to change to get to that better new settlement.
However, I also believe that if we don't get a vastly improved deal within Europe, that we should leave and that the current settlement is not in our nation’s interest. That is where I agree with Lord Lawson.
For too long, those who have advanced a rational case for exit, on economic, constitutional and political grounds, have been dismissed as cranks and extremists, with the hackneyed argument that such a course of action will “cost three million jobs”. That was never true and still is not. Indeed such scaremongering ignores our place as a global trading nation with a healthy trade surplus outside the EU.
Lord Lawson’s intervention means that we will increasingly now have a proper debate on our future relationship with the EU and this should and must inevitably lead to a referendum which involves asking the voters for their opinion, based on facts, common sense and a hard headed analysis of what is in our national interests, for the first time in almost 40 years.
Personally I would like to see two referenda - one, as soon as possible, that gives the Government a mandate to try to renegotiate a better deal by a set date and a second, on that set date, where the people of Great Britain have the chance to decide whether this new deal is good enough for them to vote to stay inside the European Union or leave.