Nikki Sinclaire: Democracy demands we vote on freedom from the EU

Have your say

I WAS six years old in 1975 when the UK had a referendum on the then Common Market. I don’t remember it myself, but I have since studied the arguments. The government at the time told us it was just a trading agreement, and there would be no loss of sovereignty. The electorate were deceived; we all know what has followed.

Despite numerous promises, no one under the age of 54 has ever had a say on Britain’s relationship with the EU. This is an issue that needs to be resolved, and this is why I’m proud to be involved with the Campaign for a Referendum on our continued membership of the EU.

The EU affects every aspect of our lives: health foods, organ pipe making, steam railway preservation trusts, motorcycling – this list is ever growing. They are now making 75 per cent of our laws. On December 1, 2009, the Lisbon treaty came into force and with it came more powers for the European Parliament. The UK, however, has lost a significant amount of sovereignty as a result of ratification – without the promised referendum – of this treaty.

David Cameron gave us a “cast iron promise” on a referendum which he then jettisoned without a second thought. The Lib Dems also promised a referendum on membership of the EU, but when they joined the coalition, they conveniently dropped the promise.

It is now up to the British people to make their voices heard. People’s petitions have been promised both by the new government and the EU.

A recent YouGov poll shows that 47 per cent of the British people would choose to leave the European Union in such a vote. We often hear the argument that our financial problems would worsen if we were to leave, however this is farcical.

Only 48 per cent of our exports of goods and services go to EU countries (which include our global exports via Rotterdam), which incidentally represents only 10 per cent of our total economy.

We would not be “isolated” if we left the EU, since more than three-quarters of Britain’s overseas assets are in countries outside the EU and roughly 60 per cent of our total external trade (goods, services, and investment income) goes to countries outside the EU.

The EU would not be allowed to raise tariff barriers against us under WTO rules. Leaving the EU would free us from bureaucratic red tape, saving our economy an estimated £50bn a year.

If successful nations like Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Norway, Switzerland and Singapore can flourish without abandoning their national sovereignty, then surely so can we. We did not vote for this loss of sovereignty, we did not give our permission for the EU to create 75 per cent of our laws, nor did we agree to the £48m a day that membership costs us.

I am often asked “if the British people did say they wanted to leave the EU in referendum, would this actually be possible?”

My answer to this is simply – “Yes!” It would give the government authority to repeal of the 1972 European Communities Act. We can leave the EU, because no UK government can bind its successor.

We are subject to EU rules only because UK legislation says that we are. Statutes are passed through Parliament to implement each EU treaty. These statutes require UK judges to have regard to EU law in making their judgments. Repeal this UK legislation and we are free. EU Law would no longer apply to us.

The debate with the EU would be about how best to manage our leaving, not whether we can leave. We don’t have to pay anything to leave; in fact we will stop paying into the EU budget, saving us more money every year.

It is essential to the future of our country that we must work together. This issue is far more important than party politics and personality differences. We have complained about the EU for long enough. We must now all act in unison and co-operation to regain control over our destiny.

This is a cross-party, nationwide initiative which aims to let all citizens of this great nation have their voice. It doesn’t matter whether you are pro or anti-European Union – surely we should be given a voice and a choice either way to decide on our future relationship with the European Union. After all, we are tol d that we live in a democracy.

Nikki Sinclaire is a Ukip MEP for the West Midlands who heads the Campaign for a Referendum.