Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 15 December 2011

Opinion polls tell us that nearly 60% of you support the decision of the Prime Minister to veto the new treaty proposals by our European partners, and in this euro-sceptic region that figure is likely to be higher. The cafeteria manager at the station on Monday was keen to impress on me that he and his staff supported the move and wouldn't mind if we came out of the EU. The taxi driver shared a similar view. E-mails of support have been flooding into my office.

I agree and salute the courage and steady nerve of David Cameron. He could not sign up to a package which would result in further integration and seriously undermine our financial services which account for over ten per cent of our national income. It was important to show other European leaders that we should not be taken for granted. The burning question however is where do we go from here.
Despite all the huffing and puffing of the last few days all EU partners will still be talking to each other, trying to resolve the difficulties in our mutual interest. This journey still has a long way to go. We have to remember that the problem is at least two-fold: the massive debts that all European countries have racked up debt we cannot afford and it will take a long time, and not a little pain, to overcome this challenge.

 Second, the markets have exposed the weaknesses in the euro that many have seen for a long time: namely to make a single currency work you need a single set of decisions on tax and spend and fiscal policies. This means a degree of integration that goes well beyond the current EU strait-jacket. Will European peoples accept politicians they did not elect and cannot remove making fundamental decisions for them in the long term? I doubt it. Every empire crumbles in the end because people want their freedom.

My guess is that this historic drama, linked to the fate of our economy, will be the dominant storyline of 2012 as it lurches from twist to turn. We will do our best to safeguard the national interest. When the shape of the new relationship is clearer, probably in a year or two, I feel strongly it should be put to the British people in a referendum.

The last referendum caused the coalition to shudder. The next one might bring it crashing down.

posted by Gary @ 00:00