Oh, for the open sea!

Time to cut ourselves adrift from the sinking EU – By Nigel Farage, Reproduced from the August edition of Independence magazine

 

There are few certainties in life here in the European Parliament.Come the end of July, the Eurocrats get their request in for yet more money (An extra £350 million a year from the British taxpayer, s’il vous plait) before heading off to their rustic cottages in Umbria and yachts in the south of France for a five week grandes vacances.

(My prediction is that they’ll be scurrying back before the end of August but more on that in a moment)

I feel slightly seasick too but it’s got nothing to do with yachts in St Tropez.I’m at my happiest on a boat heading out of Rye for a day’s fishing but you’ll need sturdier sea legs than me to keep up with Mr Cameron’s listing and lurching on the issue of an EU Referendum.

 

Once upon a time, there was a “cast iron guarantee” he would give the British people a referendum. That soon rusted and he three-line-whipped Conservative MPs to oppose the idea of holding one.

At the end of June, in Brussels,with Angela Merkel standing over him like his mother-in-law, annoyed that he’d drunk too much at a wedding, we were told that there would be no referendum.But 48 hours later,in an article in the Sunday Telegraph, he boldly stated that “The two words Europe and referendum can go together”.

 

A frisson of excitement ran through the UKIP office.Not so fast, fellow UKIPers. What he actually suggested was that a referendum might be a possibility, though not just yet.

“We need to show tactical and strategic patience” while the Eurozone is in crisis,apparently. We need to keep our cheque books and our borders open, more like.

 

He went on to say he has a “problem” with an in/out referendum because it offers “a single choice”. Heaven forbid you ask the British people a straight question that requires a straight answer, eh Mr Cameron?

 

What the Prime Minister wants – and what he believes “The vast majority of the British people want” – Is to make changes to our relationship.

 

Changes? Here we go. Might that be ‘the single market’ and nothing more – So it’s ‘just about trade’? The same single market that cripples British businesses with endless health and safety regulations and environmental directives? The single market that stops Britain striking trade deals with the rest of the world?

 

I fear so. Two weeks later and he’s talking about the importance of our trading links. Declaring that leaving the EU would be “bad for Britain”, he added that he would never campaign for us to do so – The first time he has explicitly laid out his true position on the matter.

Mr Cameron said “When I look at what is in our national interest,we are not some country that looks in on ourself or retreats from the world.Britain’s interest – Trading a vast share of our GDP – is to be in those markets.”

“It comes back to this: Who are going to be the winning nations for the 21st century? If your vision of Britain was that we should just withdraw and become a sort of greater Switzerland, I think that would be a complete denial of our national interests.”

 

I read this and wondered two things.Is the man on a suicide mission in front of his own backbenchers and is he reading the same papers as the rest of us?

According to figures released in July, the UK is now selling less to the EU than to the rest of the world.Sales to the EU account for 49.6 per cent of our total exports.The real figure is actually much lower but the omnipresent hand of Brussels is involved.It’s what economists call The Rotterdam Effect : Many British exports to non-EU markets are shipped through the Dutch port and show up in the figures as exports to the EU.

I digress, but the overall trend is overwhelming. In May, the last month for which statistics are available, our exports to the EU fell by five per cent on the previous year, while our exports to the rest of the world rose by seven per cent.Over the next five years, while Europe declines, our sales to Asia are set to increase by 30 per cent,to Latin America by 40 percent and to Africa by 60 percent.

 

Yet David Cameron wants to shackle us to the EU with it’s stagnating economies, record youth unemployment and doomed single currency.Which brings me back to my prediction. The Eurocrats had better not get too comfortable in the shady citrus groves of southern Europe.Spain is teetering on the brink,Italy will follow and we’ll  all be back in dreary Brussels before the end of August.I’ve said it before but the Euro Titanic has hit the iceberg and there simply aren’t enough lifeboats.

 

As for Mr Cameron, after announcing that he’d never campaign for Britain to leave the EU, the Downing Street spin doctors were out the very next day to say he didn’t mean ‘never’, he meant ‘not now’. If anyone needs a lifeboat, it’s him.

 

He would do well to heed the words of Winston Churchill who famously said : “If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, she must always choose the open sea”.

 

I think I might have the sea legs for it, after all.

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