Response to “We Tories are all Eurosceptics now”: The tories are putting their ideology above democracy
Letter “We Tories are all Eurosceptics now”: Why the tories are putting their ideology above democracy
I read with interest John Redwood’s article this weekend in the Financial Times (“We Tories are all Eurosceptics now“, 8th January 2016). Mr Redwood claims that we would be more democratic outside of the EU, the truth is the opposite.
Outside of the EU we would have to abide by the vast majority of EU regulation without any say in how the rules are created.
Take Switzerland where after a referendum last year they wish to restrict immigration but are unable to change the EU rules to do so. Despite not being in the EU the European Commission has withdrawn a number of cooperation programmes with them including the Erasmus+ programme, which many students will know for supporting university exchanges, and has threatened more restrictions if they prevent freedom of movement.
Norway, another example, pays into the European Union budget but gets almost nothing back and has little say in the regulations that it has to abide by. The final example Turkey, as part of the customs union has no ability to set its own external tariffs. Even more so, Turkey will have to accept most of the terms under the US-EU trade deal (TTIP) for inward trade but will not automatically have free outward trade with the USA.
Mr Redwood says that we would be able to have our own representation at climate change conferences, but the truth is we already do. We get to be represented twice, once as the UK and once as the EU. I have observed a number of sustainable development negotiations over the last 10 years including for the Sustainable Development Goals. In the final push member states turn to bilateral/closed door negotiations with the big players agreeing the final text; this year that was the EU, G77 (representatives of poor states), Russia, USA and on occasion small island states. If we were to leave the EU we would end up with the other states such as Iceland, Norway, Canada et al who at the last moments have to sit outside the negotiation table and be onlookers.
Finally he talks of “self-government” for the UK, but what is this democratic state he talks of? The UK has an unelected upper house (the Lords) compared to the elected governments who sit in the EU’s upper chamber; a lower chamber (the Commons) which is elected on winner takes all compared to the proportional EU Parliament; and local councillors who have no say in UK wide decisions compared to their role putting forward amendments to EU laws in the Committee of the Regions. In almost all counts the EU is equal or more democratic, representative and pluralist than the UK. The EU is not perfect but it has improved over the last 10 years whereas here in the UK we have spent 100 years arguing over Lords reforms. Leaving the EU would leave us unprotected from the tyranny of UK governments and allow the state to go unchecked between elections.
The Tories might be united in leaving the EU but this would leave the UK weaker, poorer and less democratic. For this reason alone, not to mention trade, security and culture, I’m proud that most Labour Party MPs, members and voters are putting their country before ideology and recent reports show that they will be voting to stay in the EU.
Lloyd Russell-Moyle, BrightonLloyd was the parliamentary candidate in Lewes for Labour in 2015, represented youth workers and youth organisation in Brussels and Strasbourg for 8 years and is the chair-candidate for Brighton, Hove and District Labour Party.