But how would Britain actually get out of the EU?

The reason I argue for a new relationship with Europe, is that we're closer to building a majority for renegotiation than we're close to the point where public and Parliament are going to demand a pull out

All eyes on Cameron
Sir John Redwood MP
On 4 August 2012 06:10

Many policy roads lead to the EU. The Treasury blames the Euro crisis in no small measure for disappointment over UK growth. Our dear energy policy is partly fashioned in the EU, with all sorts of requirements placed on the UK to prevent UK industry having low bills like the USA or Asia.

The EU controls immigration to the UK from the rest of the EU, now has a chain of EU embassies to flex its muscles in foreign policy, is moving in on criminal justice matters, and of course regulates and regulates again across wide swathes of industry and services.

Many writers on this site simply want to leave the EU. The issue they never seem willing to discuss is how this would come about. Either the present UK Parliament has to vote for a referendum on In/Out, and then the public have to vote in sufficient numbers for Out, or at some future date the public has to elect a Parliament with a majority government pledged to pull out come what may.

Neither of these eventualities looks very likely at the moment. When I and just over a hundred other MPs voted to give the UK public a referendum, we were voted down by a huge majority, as Labour, Lib Dem and Coalition Conservatives united against a public vote. Only if the official Labour position or the official Conservative position shifts is a referendum at all possible.

The reason I argue for a new relationship with Europe, is that we are closer to building a majority for renegotiation than we are close to the point where public and Parliament are going to demand a pull out. The official Conservative position favours renegotiation were the Conservatives to have a majority. Conservative Ministers would make demands for repatriating powers if they were not currently in coalition with Lib Dems. Their backbenchers would push them further.

Some of you say it is pointless seeking  powers back or seeking a renegotiation, as you think one is impossible. I say, what is there to lose? If the EU is as inflexible as you say, then, surely that will radicalise the UK people.

If we see no commonsense and no acceptance that we in the UK have simply put up with too much power and money grab from Brussels, won't that persuade more people to demand Out and vote for Out? If Brussels gets it, they will offer us substantial powers back, with a view to rescuing a relationship which has gone horribly wrong and is no longer wanted in its current form by  a majority of the UK electorate.

Some of you ask what have Eurosceptic MPs achieved by staying in the Conservative party and fighting from  within? I would say we Conservative Eurosceptics did much of the work to keep the UK out of the Euro, a crucial victory, and have now persuaded Mr Cameron to veto the latest integrationist Treaty.

There is much more to do, but UKIP are not in any position to help, because they have no votes in the Commons. It’s votes in the Commons now that are needed to block an increase in the budget, to demand powers back, to vote against any further transfer of powers, and to require a referendum.

The Rt Hon John Redwood MP is the Member of UK Parliament for Wokingham and the Chairman of the Conservative Economic Affairs Committee. His articles are cross-posted on his blog by agreement

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