Iain Duncan Smith on the European Union: “The opportunity for a brighter, more prosperous, more secure future is within our grasp”
11:06 09 May 2016
Ahead of his appearance at a debate in Ipswich tonight, Iain Duncan Smith has set out his case for remaining in the European Union.
“You are never going to hear me say that Britain couldn’t succeed outside the European Union,” the Prime Minister told us earlier this year. “Britain is the fifth largest economy in the world. We’ve got a huge amount of talent and resources and brilliant people.”
I agree wholeheartedly with the optimistic view David Cameron expressed then about this country, the British people and our ability to succeed if we vote to leave the EU.
Britain is the fastest-growing economy in Europe – thanks to the achievements of this government in restoring our economic security. We are mending the public finances and pro-enterprise policies have enabled businesses to raise employment to record levels.
Those achievements owe precious little to Brussels. They have come despite our EU membership, not because of it.
Many EADT readers will remember how our membership of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in the 1990s – widely supported in Establishment circles – wreaked havoc across the country.
I always lobbied against membership, but the Government at the time argued that if we didn’t join there would be economic ruin. In fact, it was membership of the ERM that destroyed livelihoods. And because it was controlled from Brussels, British politicians were reduced to spectators – watching as rising interest rates sucked money from British businesses and threatened the finances of families up and down the country.
Our economy was saved when we crashed out of the ERM – but despite that experience, the same politicians and institutions warned us there would be disaster if we didn’t join the Euro. Again they were wrong. Thank god we stayed out of the job-destroying single currency.
Now they are at it again, making dire predictions about life outside the EU. And I believe they are wrong again – because they fail to understand the strength, inventiveness and resilience of the British people.
If we are to bring long-term improvement to people’s lives, and liberate this country’s potential to create jobs and prosperity, we need to shake off the rest of the chains tying us to the outdated European Union.
We should be impatient for the opportunities that lie ahead once we have removed the ring-fence that EU membership has built round our ambitions.
EU red tape is tying up the entrepreneurs who are the backbone of our economy and making it far too hard for them to create new jobs. Brussels regulations impose over £33bn a year of costs on our businesses although just one in 20 even trade with Europe. Once we have control of our laws and our democracy again, we can make sure we have sensible regulations that suit British businesses. Just by getting rid of some of the European rules that make it so difficult to employ new staff, we could boost the economy by £4.3bn and create 60,000 jobs.
A Vote to Leave would also mean we could regain control over the £350m a week membership fee we pay for the EU. If we take back control, we can spend that money on our priorities – like the NHS – it would be enough to buy a new hospital every single week.
Being inside the EU can feel like being marooned as the rest of the world motors forward. There are few signs of long-term revival in the eurozone’s fortunes and the EU’s share of the world economy is sliding inexorably, from 30% to 24% in the last fifteen years.
Meanwhile, we are prevented from reconnecting fully with the global economy.
Once we can take back the seat on the World Trade Organization, which we surrendered to the EU, we would make similar deals ourselves – using the clout which the size of our economy gives us.
As we rebalance our trade, we would also be able to reclaim control over our migration policy to reflect our position as a country with a global outlook.
The Office for National Statistics has suggested that over the next 25 years, the British population will rise by 10m to 74m, and possibly as high as 79m – largely because of immigration from Europe. That scale of immigration affects housing, access to schools, health treatment and lowers people’s earnings. This makes it more important than ever that we regain control over our borders to relieve some of the ever-growing pressure on our public services.
Currently, one of the few levers we have to control immigration is to stop people coming to Britain from outside the EU. It is time to end the discrimination that makes it so hard for talented engineers from India or Canada to move here while we are forced to accept anyone from Europe who decides they fancy living in Britain, regardless of whether they can contribute to the economy or have a criminal record.
There is so much pent-up energy and ambition in Britain that is being held back by our stifling membership of the EU. The opportunity for a brighter, more prosperous, more secure future is within our grasp. On the 23rd of June we should vote for independence day.