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Politics in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead

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    David Burbage MBE was Leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council from 2007-2016. This blog : Promoted by Geoff Hill on behalf of David Burbage and all other Windsor and Maidenhead Conservative candidates, all of 2 Castle End Farm, Ruscombe, Berkshire RG10 9XQ
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Leave or Remain?

Posted by davidburbage on February 22, 2016

The executive summary – Leave!

Behind the conclusion lie a wide range of issues, however. As a free marketer, and one who applauds the openness of borders for trade and commerce and for people generally, the common market has always been an attractive concept.

In my view, as with most people, Europe has never been the totemic policy below which all other issues become less important. But as someone who couldn’t vote in 1975, it has now become one, with the referendum delivered by the majority Conservative Government.

The sovereignty issue is the most significant argument for me. It was brought home by the strange requirement to garner an agreement across 28 heads of government regarding a change to how a UK Government chooses to pay UK benefits from UK public finances. This is, at best, pretty tangential to the ability of people to live and work and trade freely across Europe without penalty. Yet this is the situation that cumulative EU rules and treaties have given us.

Tony Benn used to argue against the EU as undemocratic . In his 5 questions on the exercise of power by powerful people, the last of the questions reads “and how can we get rid of you?”. Point made, EU. How do we remove Donald Tusk, or Jean-Claude Juncker? (Mrs Miggins on the Maidenhead omnibus might even ask who they are – or Corina Cretu, or Gunther Oettinger, or Cecilia Malmstrom*).

As Michael Gove pointed out, every minister has been told that to do X is against EU rules. This has happened to me as a Council leader.

Not so long ago, when we were looking at the delay to the Maidenhead Waterways planning application, it became apparent that the charity had to submit a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment. “Why bother?” I said. “Brunel never required an EIA to build an entire railway!”

It was, of course, because of an EU Directive, copied into UK law, that any proposal for more than 2 miles of “canalisation” demanded that additional piece of red tape and bureaucracy. Ignoring it was not an option – it would have created an unlawful , subject to challenge, planning permission….

Back to borders. The original aim for free movement of people has been completely blown away by the surge in economic migrants. So borders are popping up everywhere. Even with EU migrants, immigration pressures are causing problems. Only this week Bosolver Council has been in the news because of houses being subdivided into flats to provide worker accommodation for Eastern Europeans. Councils in London have set up teams to deal with “Beds in Sheds”.

What about the Euro? It is telling that many of the same people who wanted us to join the euro are the same people who want us at the heart of Europe, at the table, on the train that’s leaving the station, in the tent etc etc. Like with the cast iron 3% budget deficit limit (remember the Stability and Growth Pact?), the best intentions of the halcyon days of a strong common currency are distant dreams. France, Spain, Portugal have all run deficits for many years, and they are not alone. Don’t even start looking at Greece! Wikipedia notes dryly “The Pact has proved to be unenforceable against big countries such as France and Germany, which were its strongest promoters when it was created”.

Our economic interests must lie in the wider global market, having wisely kept the Pound. We are the fifth largest economy in the world – I think we can cope!

In conclusion, to have control of our own affairs, to decide our own laws, the taxes we must pay, the ability to remove those who set our laws – and even decide the levels of our benefits payments – most of all, for the simple reason of British Parliamentary sovereignty, I will be supporting the Leave campaign.

 

*Donald Tusk, from Poland, is the President of the European Council. Jean-Claude Juncker, from Luxembourg, is the President of the EU Commission. Corina Cretu, Gunther Oettinger and Cecilia Malmstrom are commissioners from Romania, Germany and Sweden respectively with responsibility for Regional Policy, Digital Economy and Society, and Trade.

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