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, 24 May 2012


I now firmly believe that the people of this country should have a say on whether or not the United Kingdom remains part of the European Union. Our membership of this club has become a deeply divisive issue in British politics and this wound needs to be healed once and for all.

But not yet! Over the next two years the EU is likely to change shape dramatically. To make the Euro work those countries still in it will have to give up more national sovereignty and become much more integrated. We always said that the single currency would require a single set of decisions on all financial matters and so it has proved. That is why some of us have been implacably opposed to the Euro and remain so.

It also seems certain that some countries will be leaving the Euro-zone over the same period, notably Greece, Spain and Portugal. So the question will become: what will happen to the members of the EU who do not go down the euro-integrated route? Surely a two tier EU becomes inevitable, with significant differences between the two tiers. It is not beyond the imagination that the countries in the second tier should move increasingly towards a looser relationship, much more akin to the Common Market that many people thought they were voting for in 1975.

Once we see the new shape of the EU emerging from the ashes of the current crisis we can decide whether we want to be part of it or not. For myself, if the direction of travel of the new EU remains steadfastly towards ever closer union, I would vote to come out. If however a looser set of relationships is put in place with the single market as its focus I might well choose to stay.

And let us not forget that there is a price to pay for being in the single market. Norway and Switzerland both pay huge sums to Brussels to enjoy the benefits of the market and also have to comply with all of the rules of the single market, many of them being the same rules that we complain about. Coming out of the EU and just being in the common market is not the free hit that some people pretend.

My strong recommendation to my own party has been that we go into the next election firmly promising an in/out referendum in our manifesto.

posted by Gary @ 09:39