Letter to the Telegraph: Clegg v. Farage – the False Choice on Europe
As sent 26 March 2014
Sir, Messrs Clegg and Farage would have us believe that the only choice over Europe is to continue as things are and stay in regardless, or leave. This suits both of them but presents an entirely false choice.
Our relationship with the EU needs to change significantly. But provided we can get these changes, there may well be good reasons why we should keep our seat at the EU table. UKIP feeds the idea that change is impossible and that, in any case, David Cameron has no real commitment to change.
Senior officials in Brussels have a saying that in regard to the EU, “nothing’s possible and everything’s possible”. In other words, the treaties make it difficult to change or reverse policies, but where key national leaders are minded to bring about change it will happen. Many can recall the doomsayers telling Margaret Thatcher that it was impossible to get any of our money back from Brussels. “Maggie’s rebate” is the testimony to her success. It is all a matter of political will and the strength to overcome the natural preference of senior civil servants and diplomats for the status quo.
David Cameron has already vetoed an EU Treaty that would have been damaging to Britain’s interests, cut the EU budget, stopped plans for an EU Army, removed us from the Eurozone bailout, tightened immigration controls and access to benefits, and promised the British people an In/Out referendum once he has negotiated further reforms. He has eurosceptic form. He has also got other national leaders to recognise that many of the reforms we want are good for them as well.
The real choice on Europe is not in or out now. It is in Britain’s interests to get real change in the EU and then for the British people to decide.
Geoffrey Van Orden MEP (Conservative)
88 Rectory Lane,