EU Referendum

I am proud that a Conservative Government has, as we promised in our manifesto, passed an Act of Parliament to hold a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.

The law of the land now says that the referendum must be held by the end of 2017 - but it could come as soon as June this year.

That depends on when the Prime Minister comes back with the reforms which he is currently negotiating in the EU.

These would include exempting Britain from “ever closer union”, give more power to national parliaments, drive less regulation, and - crucially - tackle levels of immigration to our country.

Some people have made up their minds that they want to leave the EU.  Others are certain that they want to remain.  But many people have yet to make up their minds.

As the person who led the national campaign against Britain joining the euro, I’m no lover of the EU.

So I was one of the people who was weighing up the arguments for and against EU membership.  In my book published last year, I set out the case on either side.

I have concluded that provided the Prime Minister can secure his reforms, Britain should remain.

I believe we would then have the best of both worlds - outside the euro, and protected from deeper integration, but able to access the single market.

We would remain in the world’s greatest trading block of over 500 million people, but still be outside the Schengen area and so able to maintain our borders.

We would need to be very sure about the alternative before throwing such an advantageous position away.

And the more I looked at the alternatives, the more unattractive I realised they would be. The price of access to the market which British business requires would likely be a substantial payment to the EU, the free movement of labour, and no say over the rules – all the very things that the proponents of leaving claim we would no longer have.

Of course, some might disagree with me.  I will listen to their views and discuss the issues with respect.

But the crucial point is this: this isn’t a decision for MPs.  This is a referendum, and in my constituency I’ve just got one vote in 77,000.  It’s the people who will decide.

Alexander BlackBrexit