In 2013, when David Cameron announced he would call for a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union, I was delighted. I was delighted because I believed, based on Cameron's record on challenging the EU at the time, that he would be the best man to confront the EU over its profound problems. I hoped that he would deliver a reform package that would address the deep flaws of the EU. I have been disappointed. Cameron's deal is utterly shambolic; it has done nothing to persuade me to vote to stay in the EU.
And so, here are the main reasons why I feel Britain should vote to leave the EU on 23rd June 2016:
1. Cameron has made far too many concessions to other European countries. His attempt to prevent European immigrants from claiming child benefits and sending them back to their home countries resulted in a painstaking watering down exercise. Cameron’s agreement is now nearly entirely liquid. Immigrants will still be able to claim child benefits – the payments will merely be modified to correspond with the amount of money they would have received in their home countries.
2. Cameron's emergency brake on in-work benefits – that can be used when the welfare state is under strain – fails to deal with the issue of freedom of movement. Frankly put, it is a patronising 'reform' that suggests immigrants will be disinclined to come to Britain if benefits are reduced, which is not the case.
3. The Prime Minister has failed to secure any substantial treaty changes necessary to ensure that his deal is legally binding. He has also failed to seek approval of his reforms from the European Parliament before asking for approval from the British people. Who’s to say that the European Parliament or the European Court of Justice will not attempt to tear apart Cameron's 'reforms' after the referendum?
4. Cameron claims that he has guaranteed Britain's exemption from further political integration. However, it is widely acknowledged that the only way to solve the current Eurozone crisis is to fully integrate all countries in the EU together through economic and political union which, under Juncker, seems to be the preferred path of our European counterparts. It is infeasible to suggest that Britain could remain within the EU and yet exclude itself from one of the Union's core philosophies.
5. Cameron's reforms fail to deal with a range of smaller grievances. What about the Common Fisheries Policy that has destroyed the lives of fishermen here in Britain? Where does Cameron's address the costly Common Agricultural Policy that has had a devastating environmental and humanitarian impact on Europe? Why has Cameron failed to secure reform of the European Commission that leaves the EU trapped in a democratic deficit? Cameron may claim that he has started the ball rolling regarding EU reform, but he has also claimed that the referendum is a once-in-a-lifetime vote. His reforms simply do not match up to this rhetoric.
That is why, on June 23rd, I will be voting to leave the EU. I will not be swayed by scaremongering stories that suggest Britain would lose jobs and international prestige. I will not allow Britain to be sucked into a political union that has brought about widescale poverty and unemployment through rigid economic dogma imposed by unelected bureaucrats.