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Analysis
Why Britain needs self-government

Why Britain needs self-government

Better and happier Europeans outside the EU

by John Redwood in London

Tue 8 Mar 2016

Out of the EU the UK would have more influence in the world. We would be better off. We would regain control of our borders, our spending and our taxes.

The ‘leave’ campaign believes in the British people’s ability to govern ourselves. The 21st century needs networks of countries, companies and individuals looking out to the world, collaborating and trading with the regions of greatest growth and energy, as well as those nearer to home.

An independent UK, with a voice and vote in more world bodies, would have more friends and allies. Britain is a member of Nato, the permanent grouping of the UN security council, and the ‘five eyes’ intelligence group (with the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). In future, the UK should be a full member of the world climate talks and the world standards bodies.

As the world’s fifth-largest economy, the UK can, and should, represent itself at the World Trade Organisation, doing deals with like-minded countries. The EU, by contrast, has failed to sign free trade agreements with the US – the UK’s strongest ally – and with China, India, Brazil and all the other big global traders.

Out of the EU we can raise our own taxes as we choose, and spend them as we see fit. Today the UK has to meet EU, rather than its own, requirements in imposing certain taxes, including VAT, and spending on items like benefits. Outside the EU, the UK could spend £10bn more a year – the money we send to Brussels and do not get back. The government can also guarantee unchanged payments to every university, farmer and region of the UK currently getting EU funds as we have to send Brussels all that money as well.

Out of the EU we will have fair immigration. More lower-paid jobs would go to British citizens. By controlling numbers, we can ease pressures on housing, benefits, healthcare and the rest of our public services. Our universities and businesses would still attract the best talent. We would still welcome anyone with skills, good qualifications, and money to support themselves and invest in the UK.

The ‘leave’ campaign focuses on positive messages. Those wishing the UK to remain spread desperate and absurd fears. We are told the EU will not trade with us anymore. How bizarre, when the rest of the EU sells Britain so much more than we sell them. The German government has made clear it doesn’t want new tariffs and barriers on German exports to the UK, so accepts there cannot be new barriers on British exports to Germany.

We are told we will have to be like Norway and pay in contributions to carry on trading. What poppycock! Over 160 countries worldwide trade successfully with the EU. Some have increased their EU trade more quickly than the UK has done. They pay no fees into the EU system to do so.

'Remain' campaigners have a low view of Britain’s partners. They say these countries are vengeful, because they would seek to thwart us if we leave, and stupid, because they would damage their own exports to us, or even get into war without us there as a stabilising influence.

I am a good European. My country is democratic and freedom-loving. Europe is not my country and never will be. I want self-government. Freed from the entanglements, taxes and controls of the EU, the British would be better and happier Europeans. And the others would be free to complete their monetary union and political union – without us.

John Redwood is MP for Wokingham, Chairman of the Conservative Economic Affairs Committee and a former Secretary of State for Wales. This is No.6 in the series.

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