Letter from Brussels

What a year we had in 2012, with the Olympics and the Jubilee.

Both events showcased to the world what Britain can do, and why many of us are justifiably proud to be British.

It’s a pride that I think we can build on this coming year, and remind the world that even when we suffer knock-backs, we are still one of the most effective nations on the globe.

The Prime Minister is due to make a a very welcome key-note speech about our relationship with the EU in the coming weeks, and when he does, I hope he and others remember how 2012 showed our capability to achieve great things without reliance on the EU.

2013 will see an even greater increase in the public’s scepticism of our current relationship with the EU, and those of us in ‘established’ parties must react appropriately to the public mood.

The rise in support for single issue parties on this matter show that the public are taking the question of our EU membership very seriously, and will not hold back in showing their disdain, at the ballot box.

The irony is that support for anti-EU single issue parties is usually taken at the expense of the very party in Parliament that is currently the most Eurosceptic, i.e. the Conservatives. The parties that have never had Eurosceptic members remain unscathed.

I was elected in 2009 for UKIP and have not changed my views on leaving the EU. But I have concluded, on principle, that the Conservatives are the only party serious and capable enough to deal with the EU question. I stand by that decision and am convinced it is still the case.

One of my hopes for 2013 is that we have a very serious debate about Britain’s membership of the EU, looking at the range of options in an informed way, leading to a meaningful and decisive question with an 'out' option being put to a national public vote.

I am not in the slightest bit worried about engaging in debate about our relationship with the EU, as I know that the Eurosceptic argument will prevail, if given a fair and balanced hearing.

Over recent years, those of us who favour leaving the EU have gone from being laughed at to becoming the mainstream view. 2 British people want to leave for every 1 wanting to stay. It is now the ‘stay in’ brigade that are considered to be acting on some irrational emotional ideology in arguing their case. We need a proper, considered debate about the business, economic and social case for leaving the EU, not a succession of myths and name calling. Norway and Switzerland are the two richest countries in Europe, yet neither is in the EU.

When we make convincing arguments, for example, about developing British trade agreements with Commonwealth countries, particularly as Commonwealth economies last year outstripped the EU's economies and India has such potential, opponents ignore all the advantages that a shared language, ethos, business, legal and work ethic would bring to us all, and instead make cheap shots about attempts to return to colonialism.

They can’t defeat the logic, so go for the emotive.

The Europe question needs settling, and soon, so we know where we are and can start to rebuild our nation’s strength and sovereignty accordingly.

2013 will undoubtedly see the argument over our membership of the EU hotting-up, and a new urgency from those on all sides of the fence putting their messages over. 

Watch out, this could get very interesting!

David Campbell Bannerman MEP
Conservative Member of the European Parliament for the East of England

www.dcbmep.org

Twitter: @DCBMEP