I had quite a shock today. I found myself wholeheartedly agreeing with Liam Fox, the former Defence Minister, who wants the UK to have a referendum over the UK’s membership of Europe. You can read a news report of his speech here.
Agreeing with Mr Fox deeply perturbed me as I don’t count myself as a member of the Tory ranks and I’m certainly not one of the “Wogs begin at Calais” brigade. The countries in Europe are, in the main, very nice places with long histories and great cultures which are populated by decent people. Germany and Belgium make some of the greatest beers in the world and European trains are a model of punctuality and reliability for starters.
And yet, and yet. As I read Mr Fox’s argument I found myself mentally nodding in agreement. Like millions of others, I voted for the Economic Community as a sensible trading arrangement between us and the continent. However, I never voted for the priority of European laws over British ones, a common currency that is a competitor to Sterling, a federal European Bank, unlimited immigration between member states, a human rights act which stops us deporting violent and dangerous criminals, a common agricultural policy, metrification and a myriad of other intrusions on the British way of life.
Some readers will think the above are good things to have while others will, like me, think they should all be removed from Great Britain. However, this misses the real point which is that we have never, ever been asked if we, as a country, want them. We were asked to vote on a trading agreement but subsequent governments (Labour and Conservative) have blithely signed away sovereignty in almost every area of life to an unelected commission and given untold billions to support the EU. We can’t fish what we want to, we can’t grow what we want to, our working lives are dictated by EU policy, our justice system is subservient to EU law and so forth ad infintum.
I think its time we stopped sliding into Euroland by inaction and make a collective decision to be either totally wedded to the European ideal or to back out. It is time for a real referendum.