EU, in or out: John Cryer MP

John Cryer MPJohn Cryer MP

In the run-up to the EU referendum on 23 June, we're asking people in the local community if they are 'in' or 'out'. Here, John Cryer, the Labour MP for Leyton and Wanstead, explains why he's 'out'.

The debate in Britain about the European Union is very rarely conducted in terms that are rational or objective – and I have to say that applies to both sides.

If I were to stand up at a meeting – as I did recently at a debate organised by the European Movement – and offer criticisms of the EU I would be, and was, accused of being a stupid, narrow-minded nationalist. On the other hand, anyone who defends the EU can expect to be condemned as treacherously selling out hundreds of years of democracy. The reality is a great deal more complicated, but the same reality has led me to be an opponent of the EU because it is, as far as I can see, an exclusive club that all too often functions as the protector of big banks and big business with scant regard for anyone else.

Along with a majority of the British people, I think a referendum on our membership is long overdue. This is not because I am a fan of referenda, but if parliament decides to change the power of the ballot box and the power of Westminster, that should be put to the voters.

The Prime Minister hopes he can repeat Harold Wilson's sleight of hand of 1975. Wilson claimed to have extracted major concessions from what was then the Common Market. David Cameron has achieved very little in his negotiations with Brussels. The EU will continue as the same centralised monolith that it has always been. Eurozone states, who are really under the cosh of the Euro-sadists, are now being told that they will lose control over their own budgets; they have already, of course, lost control of their currency by joining the Euro in the first place. Brussels is also indicating that there should be more "harmonising" of taxation.

Some readers may point to legislation protecting workers' rights, which came from the EU, and there is some truth in that. But most of the major legislative changes – such as automatic recognition for trade unions, the minimum wage enacted by the Blair government or the Health and Safety at Work Act introduced by Wilson – did not come from Brussels. At the same time, the European Court of Justice persistently enforces directives that help undercutting and exploitation. Real power in the EU does not rest with the European Parliament but with the Commission and the Council of Ministers. Both are secretive and unaccountable.

The EU is not a defence against the rise of the far right; enforced integration is actively fostering nationalism. Regional funds, which have been used to help poorer areas, are being drained into the Euro to help prop it up (as predicted by the Treasury as early as 1975).The EU is not Europe but a political construct imposed on many countries. It is undermining democratic governments, weakening national boundaries and handing power to the markets and the corporate world.

The EU referendum is scheduled for 23 June. The deadline to register to vote is 7 June – visit gov.uk/register-to-vote


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