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, 20 June 2013


Last week I rehearsed some of the arguments for staying in the EU. This week we explore some reasons to leave.

The cost. In 2011/12, our net contribution to the EU – the amount we give minus the amount we get back – stood at £7.4bn. This is expected to rise to £9.4bn in 2014/15, an increase of 27% in just three years. Compare this to the much criticised international development budget, which totalled just £6.1bn last year. When we are making tough decisions at home to get our national finances in order, it is important to not throw away savings to Brussels. The cost to business is considerable too. EU regulation is estimated to cost the UK in the region of £9bn-£19bn, and Open Europe calculated that it makes up 71% of the total regulatory burden on British business. If we can get rid of this red tape, we would enjoy a much needed boost to the economy.

We can go it alone. Supporters of the EU often point to the benefits of its free trade area. But Norway proves that you don't have to be a member of the EU to enjoy free trade in Europe. Joining Norway in the European Economic Area and handing in our EU membership card would maintain our trade opportunities at a tiny fraction of the cost. Further, as members of the EU we have to impose trade barriers on other countries – including emerging markets in South America, India, and China. As the EU's fraction of world GDP steadily falls, making sure we have free trade with these fast growing economies will become increasingly important.

Sovereignty. The EU suffers from a substantial democratic deficit. Since its birth as the European Economic Community in 1957, the EU has been acting more and more like a government, making and changing laws across a wide spectrum of issues. However, it is not a government that the British electorate can remove. Its power lies in the European Commission, which functions as the EU's executive and is the only body that can initiate legislation. But its 27 commissioners have never been elected, instead just being directly selected by national governments. The reason that democracy works is that voters can throw out governments they don't like; with the European Union, we lack that power.

There you have it – the last 2 weeks the main arguments for and against.  All being well, you will get to decide this in 2017. 

posted by Gary @ 10:19