Opinion from Lord Digby Jones

Why I am Voting to Leave the EU

Published Tuesday 3 May, 2016

There are 56 words in the Lords Prayer. The Ten Commandments took 297 words to encapsulate a Code for Life. The Founding Fathers of the USA took 1300 words to write The Declaration of Independence.

Can someone please explain to me why it takes 27,000 (!!!) words to write the EU Directive on Duck Eggs??!!

"Europe" is something that is "done" to people; distant, remote, seemingly oblivious to the daily lives, worries, aspirations and needs of real people in the real world, the unelected, unaccountable, anonymous, handsomely remunerated Bureaucrats in Brussels have no legitimacy in the eyes of the 520 million citizens whose lives they affect in so many ways every day. Democratically-elected governments can be voted out of office on a predictable, known basis; those grey, hidden stalwarts of Officialdom in the Berlaymont have no need to worry what electorates think; their emotional intelligence is irrelevant; they can get on with spending other people's money as they mess up wealth-creation, enterprise and global competitiveness in their unrelenting mission of "doing Europe" to people.

For a week a month, month in month out, the entire European Parliament ups sticks from Brussels and moves to Strasbourg. French sensitivity demands a base of EU law-making on French soil (the dears!) so €80 million of hard-earned taxes is spent moving for a few days every month....and back again. Fleets of huge trucks take all their impedimenta (so much for the Green Agenda! Pass environmental laws that mess up small businesses across Europe of course....but pollute big-time on your own doorstep!). There you are, Europe is just "done" to people; can you imagine how a democratically-elected politician could justify that?

The Common Agricultural Policy is "done" to us, adding some 17% to UK food bills; energy regulation is "done" to us, adding £149 to each household's annual domestic energy bill in the UK. Big multinationals with their thousands of lobbyists in Brussels have fashioned EU business regulation to suit themselves (no wonder the Footsie 100 want to stay in!) but the 100 most burdensome EU regulations cost small businesses in the UK £33 billion every year! "Get more productive!" scream the politicians; "be more globally competitive" they urge....as Brussels "does" Europe to the biggest wealth and job creators in the land, those small businesswomen and men who labour every day under the onslaught of expensive job-destroying rules from unaccountable and unelected EU Bureaucracy....the SPT......the Sales Prevention Team 

Our taxes provide a €23 billion EU overseas aid budget; some €3 billion of that is admitted as being lost in corruption. For 21 years (!!!) the European Court of Auditors has refused to sign off the EU Accounts. They state that €133.6 billion of EU Budget payments are "affected by material error".  

.......and we all just let it happen, year after year. "You don't understand" we are patronisingly told, "there is a bigger picture" they say; "yes, of course there are problems but....." the vested interests (Trade Unions, farmers, multi-nationals, socialist ideologues) recite, "of course it needs reform, but........." they excuse. At what point exactly should the "but...." be defeated by the realisation that the Emperor really is naked? The Elite, the patronising intelligentsia, find it difficult, nay impossible, to understand why the peasants are revolting, but it's been coming for years.

The EU "has too much power"; "the European Court of Justice...is.....imposing burdens on businesses which suggest a detachment from reality"; the European Parliament "does not remotely provide democratic accountability"; "the EU really is remote, expensive and over-regulating". These are all the words of Lord (William) Hague as recently as last December. Precisely! But he is voting to stay in the EU. He states not that he thinks it will reform (a forlorn hope if ever there was one) but that if the UK votes to leave then Scotland will hold another Referendum and the UK will break up. There are a fair few hurdles to get over to arrive at that conclusion my Lord, not least the fact that Scotland has a deficit of £15 billion, twice as big per capita as in the UK as a whole. Scotland already spends £1,400 a head more than the UK average and pays less in tax......and with oil currently at some $41 a barrel! The Scots, in their canniness, will not want to leave one Union to join another where their near-bankrupt Country takes it from remote Brussels or Berlin rather than from Westminster where they at least have meaningful representation and financial support.

This is Asia's Century; the 28 States of the EU had better get on the page of a reformed, globally-competitive Society and quickly or our grandchildren's generation will be consigned to a very cold, austere, unpleasant life. "Europe accounts for just over 7% of the World's population, it produces around 25% of global GDP but is responsible for 50% of global social spending"; those are the words of none other than Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, in December 2012.

The European Central Bank states that in 2020 the ratio of working age people to pensioners in the EU will be 3:1. By 2050 it will be 2:1. In 2006 France's pension liabilities accounted for 362% of French GDP; in the UK it was only 91%. A little girl born today in the EU has a 33% chance of seeing her 100th Birthday; a little boy has a 25% chance. Who's going to pay for the promised, unfunded pensions for those millions of people who will be living for some forty years in retirement? Quite how is any country in the EU going to afford it?

So where is the money going to come from to pay for all the goodies that Social Europe guarantees everyone? The unaccountable Eurocrats burden down those who need to make the money with uncompetitive regulation, the Socialists promise everyone the Earth and then some........and the vested interests just tell us all to subscribe to the "It'll Be Alright On The Night" Party!  

That wonderful vision of ensuring that never again would France and Germany go to war against eachother, 28 countries living in sustainable peace for over seventy uninterrupted years, that amazing feat of providing a peaceful transition to a stable home of democratic capitalism for the Eastern European countries wriggling free from totalitarian communism, a tariff-free single market of 520 million relatively sophisticated consumers to which to sell goods and services.........fabulous achievements for which every EU citizen should be grateful. Yet all this is going to be sacrificed on the altar of ideological compliance in the ridiculous belief that a set of rules created in 1957 for six countries emerging from World War, destroyed economies and Nazi oppression can be applied successfully in the globalised, brutally competitive economy of Asia's Century. Free movement of labour worked fine between Italy and Germany in 1965, but between Romania and the UK in 2016?  For when economies fail, when huge but necessary cuts in public spending cause civil unrest, when the Emperor's New Clothes Party tell you that it is possible for everyone to live in harmony when some major, globally successful countries are ordered (I hear the sounds of "Europe doing it to you" again) to co-exist in and pay for a club which includes countries that think that basing their economy on exporting olives and importing BMWs will result in anything other than bankruptcy.......then the evil men get to work, extremists pull the strings and those achievements are destroyed.

The case for remaining in a reformed EU is almost unanswerable; but what is on offer might have slightly reformed the UK's relationship with the EU but there is no hint, let alone substance, of any reform of the Club itself. The UK electorate is being bombarded every day by the heavy mob of Project Fear; sowing the seeds of doubt and worry as to what life will be like outside the Club. But I have yet to hear anyone explain what life will be like for our grandchildren if we stay in! Tied to the globally uncompetitive, racially-divisive, getting-poorer Club of (19)'57, earning less but giving everyone prizes every day, practising the "if it moves, regulate it" system of so-called governmental leadership and implementing the speedy flexibility of a glacier. And no-one in the EU will have any truck with us again if we vote to stay, in as far as seeking to reform the Club Rules in the future."You had your chance" they'll say; "we're doing it our way now" will be the refrain. Our influence is diminished forever.

Reform? The Government Propaganda Leaflet our taxes have disgracefully paid for states that the EU has reformed. Really? Where? What Reform? When Project Fear is the Government's best argument for staying in! We're told there'll be no NHS, no cheap flights to the Costa Del whatever and..... OMG! No overseas footballers in the Premier League! What's next week's dire threat? Locusts? Death of the First-born? Is that really the best argument for staying in? P-lease!

There is no "as you were" about this. Leave and things will be different. Stay....and things will be different. The inexorable march to a United Europe will continue; it will have to if the Euro is to survive long-term and Germany will go to the wire for that one. Remain means be on the outside, put up with it, shut up ("you had your chance!") and over a couple of generations become a reluctant State in the United States of Europe; Leave means be on the outside and shape your own destiny; no longer have the EU "done" to you. And most of the population of the EU have so switched off from being "done to" by Brussels that they can't even tell you the name of their MEP! It's almost as if they no longer care; they are resigned to their fate. How damning is that!

But what if we left? Italy sells €500 million worth of shoes to the UK every year; Germany sells us €16 billion worth of cars; the majority of the trains we use every day are built in Düsseldorf. If we left the EU, there would be a Free Trade Agreement in place in the morning for, although those well-known business experts Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn will tell you otherwise, the EU needs us a lot more than we need them. All we would need to do is believe in ourselves as the Fifth largest economy on Earth. We are not Switzerland or Norway. And as for being threatened with the "but we would be subject to regulations that we've had no influence in drafting"....well neither have the Chinese or the Americans! And I would just point out that the UK has not managed to block a single proposal from the EU Commission passing through the EU Council despite trying 55 times....and that's when we belong! Influence? Pah!

The UK is a free-trading, open, globalised economy. Sadly, the EU is not. I want skilled immigrant workers to be employed in UK businesses because of the contribution they can make to their own and our Country's success (so we can afford the prizes the politicians want to give everyone, so we can look after our getting-older population). I do not want the decision as to who can work here to be made on where they come from rather than the skills they possess. The colour of their skin, the God they worship, where they come from should all be irrelevant. Their skill, what they bring to this Country, should be all important, not an entitlement because of the Country they're leaving, based on a failed Business Model no longer fit for purpose. The global success that is the UK Financial Services Sector, indeed the very status of London as current Capital of the World, is based in part on quality immigration from all over the World, not just from the EU. So why should the UK Government be prevented (by sheer overall numbers) from allowing skilled immigration from America or India because they can do nothing to stop unskilled people from Slovakia or Bulgaria settling here?

I don't frankly care if some Latvian isn't going to handle £6,000 a year more or less because of some change agreed over the lobster one night in Brussels. I'm not moved one way or the other if the Sales Prevention Team have assured us we don't need to worry about the City of London being harmed by nasty Paris or Frankfurt (anyway, my money's on the girls and guys in Canary Wharf anyday). For me the debate is wider, deeper and far more long term than that. To what sort of life are we condemning that little girl born today in Birmingham if we stay in? How are the subsidy-junkies from the EU going to ensure that a 25 year-old lad in Athens has a future by skilling him up rather than subsidising his job (if indeed he has one at all) in the olive groves? How does a Brussels marching valiantly towards 1970 give Beijing or Washington sleepless nights in the battle for global competitiveness.

I have always said I would like to remain in a reformed EU. It has the ingredients to start ahead of the game in the Big Race that is Asia's Century. But I sadly have to accept that the chances of achieving far-reaching change, indeed any change, in the myopic, "the Emperor's New Clothes Club" are virtually nil. So, on balance and with something of frustrated regret, I shall be voting to leave the Club. I don't want my Country dragged down with the rest. I don't want the most successful economy in Europe to be diminished by the legalised search for the lowest common denominator. I shall put my faith in the amazing people of my Country to weather the initial turbulence of exit and then fly into the clear, quality air of the staggering opportunities of a globalised not just European 21st Century. Globalisation was made for our Country; now is the time to make talk a reality.