Jonathan outlines his position on an EU referendum in an article for the 'News & Crier'
23rd October 2012
As I recall the events of the past few months I consider the success of the Olympics and Paralympics to be a defining reputational moment for our country. I had the huge pleasure of attending the gymnastics event where I saw Team GB, including our very own Louis Smith, beating China in the preliminary rounds before going on to win a bronze (very nearly silver). The atmosphere in the stadium was electric and Team GB put on an exhilarating performance – at that moment I certainly felt proud to be British!
This feeling has been shared by many this year and coming so soon after the triumph of the Diamond Jubilee the summer events have been a valuable reminder of much that we love about our country.
And when considering our country, the European Union is an ever growing point of contention across the UK and certainly, I am finding, in Huntingdonshire.
The last referendum on membership, of the EEC in 1975, was voted on by a different generation. No one under the age of 55 has had their say on membership of the European Union. But in the past 37 years the EU has grown in size, scope and influence and to such a degree that I believe the time is right for the issue to be put to the British people. I support the view that the mandate under which the EU has operated has expired and that it is time to call a referendum on Europe. Our membership of the EU is a mandate from the British people and it is important that we reinforce the fact that we are members by choice and that ultimately it is British people that determine Britain’s future.
However, I am personally convinced that leaving the EU would be a hugely destabilising move, especially with the current global economic climate. It would also be detrimental to British trade interests, one of which would be the vast task of re-negotiating trade agreements for every sector of trade.
So I clearly state my position, that while I do believe that there should be a clear In/Out referendum on the subject of our membership, I support remaining within the EU. However, I would also like to see the referendum endorse the Government to reclaim powers from Europe and reform the relationship between Britain and the EU. Powers relating, for instance, to Home Affairs, Employment law, Health and Safety should all be repatriated.
Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has called for ‘a federation of nation states,’ which, to me, highlights the urgency with which we must push for reform. We should work with our European partners where it is in our mutual interest to do so. But we must keep separate the levers, such as retaining our own currency, that enable us to act as a sovereign and independent country where necessary. Reforming our relationship is essential if we are to retain our sovereignty and build for a strong stable future within the European Union.