The Chairman of the UK Independence Party welcomed David Cameron’s speech promising an In/Out referendum on EU membership. Steve Crowther said that the Prime Minister had laid out a clear exit strategy for the UK to leave the EU and regain its place in the world.
“The Prime Minister has outlined a process by which we can vote to leave the EU in 2017, or to stay in on new terms which he proposes to renegotiate – not on the current terms. This is a huge breakthrough”, he said.
“In practice, Mr Cameron has described not just a new relationship between the UK and the EU, but a complete redesign of the Union’s fundamental principles and direction of travel. This clearly will not happen, as many senior EU figures have made clear today.
“The EU is committed to ‘ever-closer union’, and further integration is what they are actively striving for. The UK saying we’d prefer it if they went a different way entirely is not going to cut any ice. The Prime Minister was very critical of the EU in his speech today, echoing much of what we have been saying for years about its democratic deficiencies, bureaucracy and financial mismanagement. To imagine that our EU partners are going to agree with his analysis, and reverse their drive for integration, is fantasy.
“In the event, if Mr Cameron is in a position to deliver the referendum, he will have only a choice between the status quo, and ‘out’. We should not be afraid of this choice.
“I keep hearing people say that the UK cannot survive outside the EU. Given that we are the world’s 6th largest economy, 5th largest trading nation and 8th largest manufacturer, this is patently absurd.
“The EU, which sells us more than we sell them by about £40 billion a year, will be desperate to offer us good trading terms; and we will be able to forge our own trading links with the Commonwealth and other emerging economies which are growing fast while the EU market shrinks.
“Agriculture will be able to be rebuilt in this country, our fisheries will be returned to us, our energy costs will fall and our industry will thrive on lower costs and rising markets.
“People say that 3m jobs depend on our trade with the EU. That trade will continue unhindered; and it’s likely that we will gain jobs when free from the crippling regulations and open-border labour movement of the ‘Single Market’.
“Long-term, our economy will benefit by up to £150 billion a year – the total direct and indirect cost burden the EU places on us. That means we could start paying off the vast debts that we have been left with by government mismanagement. That is vital to our children’s future.”