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, 17 January 2013


I am reading a book at the moment called The Girl who played with Fire by Stieg Larsson. Brilliant. Some would say that our Prime Minister is playing with fire in opening up the prospect of an in/out referendum on the EU. But I am not one of them.

If I had a choice of staying in the existing EU or coming out, I would vote to come out. Like many of you I am tired of the centrally-controlled bureaucratic inward-looking suffocating juggernaut trying to tell us how life in Britain should be run. It was not what we signed up to back in the 1970's.

But life is not quite as simple as that. There is a third option that we must explore and this is what the PM is seeking to do. In response to the euro -zone crisis there will doubtless be closer integration of some (or all) of the euro-zone countries. The closer integration of a few inner core member states opens up the prospect of a different settlement for the other non-euro EU members, like us: something much closer to the common market we originally envisioned. This is the great prize that needs to be explored over the next two years with the outcome put to the British people, say, in 2016.

If such a prize were on offer - the UK staying within the outer tier of the EU in something resembling a single market only- I would vote for that. To me that is a win/win and we don't get many of those. Despite the tut-tutting of the Americans and the haughty disdain of the French at Mr Cameron's approach, I support him fully on this venture, messy though it might seem.

What if it can't be done, what if we end up with a simple choice: stay or go? Can we survive outside the EU? Of course we can. We are the sixth largest economy in the world with historic trade and diplomatic links in every corner. The economic growth on this planet is now happening well away from European borders and a focus on these new markets would be timely. Plus, it is almost inconceivable that our ex-EU buddies would not allow the UK to trade with them tariff-free as Norway and Switzerland do, because to exclude us from that club would cut of their own noses.

I wish David Cameron well in playing with fire. In the national interest.

posted by Gary @ 12:50