You do not have to surrender democracy in order to trade. That is what Britain’s membership of the European Union does. To trade freely with one stagnating economic bloc the British people surrender their control over countless laws that govern them. Leaving presents an alternative vision: we can trade globally and keep our ability to control those that govern us.
EU membership damages our democracy. Huge swathes of legislation are beyond parliament’s control. Thus the voter has less ability to influence and hold to account the government. If the government is not answerable to the people, it will not respond to their interests. If you do not like TTIP, what can you do about it? If the Italian government isn’t doing what the EU wants, it gets removed.
The expenses scandal seems petty when you consider that auditors have not been able to sign the EU accounts for twenty years. EU finances are that porous. This would be a huge scandal in Westminster. When politicians are beyond the public gaze, Lord Acton’s famous ‘Power tends to corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ becomes closer to reality.
Democracy seems to be undervalued in this referendum debate. I think that’s because it is a fairly abstract issue. The effects are harder to grasp than, say, talking about the effect of EU fishing policy. But it is the most important point of why we should leave. If our UK parliament is not sovereign, not only will the sense of us as a collective group be weakened, but governments simply won’t have to respond to our interests as expressed through the ballot box.
There is also the argument that in order to trade and cooperate, we must pool sovereignty. This is mistaken. Cooperation does not require the loss of democracy. There is a trend that police forces, judiciaries and other functions of governments in this globalised world are being compelled to cooperate. But this doesn’t require the loss of parliament sovereignty – whilst they can integrate in many respects, they are still accountable to the national parliament. You can have integration without a superstate.
The EU prevents us from being an open, global nation. We are cannot form our own trade deals. Iceland has a free trade deal with China. We have not, and cannot. We should be open to thriving economies like India and Nigeria, which speak our language. EU predicted growth rates are anaemic at best, yet we are effectively tied to them.
Would we lose free access to the EU bloc if we left? No. The EU is more dependent on trade with us than we are to them. They fear instability as much as we do. Would we lose control over legislation if we left? Not really. We have 8% of voting rights, and have lost out the most at the European Council. Norway has access to the single market, and has to pass most of its legislation without having voted on it. But it has indirect influence, and if it doesn’t like a policy enough, it can veto it. A huge majority of people want to stay out in Norway. Because ultimately, sovereignty still lies with the people.
So for a global and democratic Britain, the choice is clear.
Image courtesy of MPD01605.