Nick Hopkinson (letters, April 21) paints a utopian view of the European Union (EU) in the same way that Russia painted a utopian view of the USSR. It’s all propaganda!
Mr Hopkinson seems to have confidence in the UK people’s ability to work hard, in order to generate income and pay taxes, but does not seem to have confidence in our ability to decide for ourselves how to spend those taxes.
In 2015 the UK government paid £13 billion to the EU budget (£250 million per week), and EU spending on the UK was £4.5 billion. So the UK’s “net contribution” was estimated at about £8.5 billion. The EU, an organisation that hasn’t had its accounts audited for over 20 years, decides how the £4.5 billion is spent in the UK. The rest of our £8.5 billion pa “contribution” is siphoned off to where exactly?
At the same time as we hand over £8.5 billion pa to the EU, we face savage cuts in our own public services – undermining the core values we have worked so hard to achieve over many generations. We must ensure that the things we value most like the NHS, pensions, care for the disabled and those in need, education etc are adequately funded before we subsidise other nations through the EU budget. Why, for example, should the UK hand over £8.5 billion to other EU nations when we have over a million people using food banks?
Many EU nations are generations behind us in terms of economic and social development – we must help them to develop as we have done, and equally they must accept that it takes generations – there are no short cuts, no handouts. It’s hard graft! We know, we did it over many generations!
There are something like 196 countries in the world. 168 are not in the EU and yet they are surviving. They include the USA, China, Japan, Australia, Canada etc. Interestingly, the USA does over £50 billion of trade pa with the UK, and the UK does a similar amount with the USA, and all of this without a formal trade deal. The truth is that trade deals are useful to have but are not an absolute necessity.
If the UK leaves the EU, it will lose a financial “contribution” of £8.5 billion pa and will not want to compound that loss with further economic self harming! Germany, for instance, will not want to do anything to jeopardise its substantial trade with the UK. The EU will still want to trade with us.
Nick Hopkinson would have us believe that the EU helps us to deal with climate change, yet there are 168 non EU nations who also play a part in dealing with climate change. We can play an influential part in this and other issues from outside the EU – just like the other 168 nations.
He suggests that the EU has helped to transform communist central European countries into market democracies. The truth is that the EU is undermining democracy in each and every one of its nation states. Currently most laws are made in Brussels by bureaucrats who are not democratically accountable and our own national parliament (the mother of parliaments) is usurped. We need to restore the link between law making and democratic accountability.
The idea that the EU has guaranteed peace and security in Europe is misleading – that has been achieved by NATO. In reality the EU has increasingly become a destabilising influence and, by continually undermining democracy, has made Europe more insecure than at any time since the second world war. We may yet see civil war in some EU countries, where the people are rising up and rejecting central control (just like the USSR). The threat to peace comes from the undermining of democracy!
To answer Mr Hopkinson’s question – “what does leave look like?”
It’s rather simple really. 28 EU nations become 27 and 168 non EU nations become 169 ... and the UK no longer needs the agreement of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden to set its own priorities.
The UK will, once again, be a self governing nation – and THE nation that stands up for democracy.
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