Mayor of London Boris Johnson calls on North East to vote Leave in EU referendum
Boris Johnson will be in Newcastle tomorrow to make the case for Britain leaving the EU. Here he outlines why he thinks the UK would be better off going it alone.
Britain is facing a historic decision on June 23 that gives us the opportunity to leave the European Union.
In the 1975 referendum, when Britain voted yes to staying in, people put their crosses next to the words Common Market. So it is hardly surprising they now feel conned. Instead of a community based on free trade we are now part of an ever-more powerful political entity that has nibbled away at our democracy chunk by chunk.
The EU does not stand still. It keeps moving forward, but in only one direction – towards a European super-state that would turn its nations into museum pieces.
Let’s be absolutely clear here. Voting to remain is not a vote for the status quo – it is vote for a federalist super-state with no possible future reprieve.
By leaving, we will be taking back control over our borders, over our laws and the future of our trade with the world, the motor that has always driven Britain’s prosperity.
We will also be taking back control of the £350m a week that Brussels demands from us. It is an eye-watering subscription for a club that bosses its members around, gives them such a raw deal and takes such shambolic care of its finances.
EU membership costs the North East half a billion pounds a year, enough to build six new hospitals. We are wasting that money on an unaccountable and failing institution, whose accounts are so riddled with waste and corruption that auditors have refused to sign them off for 20 years.
If we left we would not have to cut a penny from programmes like regional support that are currently funded by European grants. But we would have billions of pounds a year left over to spend on our own priorities, whether on the NHS, schools or infrastructure.
We need control of our borders. This will allow us to introduce a carefully managed migration policy, replacing the current free-for all from Europe. We added the equivalent of a city the size of Newcastle to the EU’s population last year through immigration, largely because we have to accept unrestricted movement from the EU.
European judges constantly interfere whenever we try to protect our borders, meaning we have little power to turn away people who can’t contribute to the economy or who have criminal records.
Official EU figures show that last year there was a 70% increase in the number of people trying to reach Britain using fraudulent documents, with forged or stolen Greek and Italian ID cards particular favourites.
Sir Richard Dearlove, the former chief of MI6, has said leaving the EU would be an “important security gain” against the threat of terrorism.
Far from shutting out people we need, controlling our borders would mean we could welcome the brightest and the best wherever in the world they come from, rather than discriminating against talented non-Europeans. We could do this while still cutting overall migration.
Taking back control would also give us the opportunity to gain new prosperity and jobs by increasing our trade with the world beyond Europe. Currently the EU occupies our seat at the World Trade Organisation, and it has proved appallingly slow at reaching economic agreements with vital countries like India and Canada. We could do a far quicker, more efficient job if we took back control, following the nimble example of countries like Switzerland and South Korea.
Nor will our free trade with Europe suffer when we vote leave, as the gloom merchants claim. The Europeans sell £60bn more to us than we export to them. They are not going to tell their best customer to push off.
The europhiles believe the continent would want to strangle trade with an independent Britain. But these are the same people who warned us in the 1990s that it would be a disaster if we left the Exchange Rate Mechanism and later that we would be doomed if we stayed out of the euro.
We ignored them on both occasions and as a result are now outstripping our continental friends who shackled themselves to the euro. Foreign investment and trade have flourished in the North East.
Because of success stories like Nissan, this region now produces nearly as many cars as Italy, the home of Fiat and Ferrari.
The businesses who have benefited so much from what the North East has to offer are not suddenly going to pack up if we leave the EU. As Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive of Renault Nissan, has said: “Whatever is the decision of the UK we will adapt to it. I don’t think there is a reason to worry. We knew for many years that [an exit] was possible. So we’ll deal with it.”
If we stayed, we would be agreeing to remain part of a ratchet system that drives ever-more power to the EU. Already, between a half and two thirds of our laws are sent down from Brussels.
This thicket of red tape is a nightmare for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), who have to follow Brussels rules even though fewer than one in 20 trade with Europe.
Across the North East, over 99% of businesses are SMEs, providing more than two thirds of the jobs. But they could be providing so many more. A quarter of SMEs in the region say Brussels rules are making it harder for people like them to take on new people.
The 100 most damaging EU rules are estimated to load £33bn of costs on to the economy nationally. If we leave, we are not suddenly going to scrap everything like entitlements to holiday and restrictions on working hours. The point is that we will be able to decide what makes sense for Britain.
With a little self-confidence, we can take back control from the bureaucrats and judges of Brussels, hold our elected representatives accountable for the laws they pass and boot them out for their failures.
Jobs, freedom and democracy – they are compelling reasons to Vote Leave on June 23.