James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire - This is not right way to solve our EU difficulties (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire - This is not right way to solve our EU difficulties
12:00pm Thursday 10th October 2013 in News
A backbencher with questionable leadership ambitions called Adam Afriyie hopes that I will support his amendment to the forthcoming EU In/Out Referendum Bill. He plans to table a wrecking amendment which would bring the referendum forward from 2017 to 2014.
Now on the face of it, if you are as unhappy with the EU as I am, you’d have thought an early referendum on our membership was a good idea.
But let’s think about this. Let’s leave aside the Parliamentary procedures surrounding a private members’ bill such as this, which would mean that any such amendment is very likely to kill off the whole bill, and therefore snooker any prospect of a referendum ever. Let’s leave aside the likelihood that if the amendment were passed the PM would have no choice but to kill the bill off.
Let’s imagine it could pass through Parliament with the date of 2014 in it. Either the nation would vote to stay in the EU; or to leave it. If the people vote ‘Yes’ (to stay in the EU) in 2014 that, of course, would make any renegotiation of our membership of the EU impossible. It would commit us to the EU, emasculating any threat to leave. It would kill the Eurosceptic cause for a generation, and give oxygen to UKIP at the 2015 General Election. A ‘Yes’ vote in a 2014 referendum would be a disaster all round.
But if they vote ‘No’ (to leave), it could have almost as disastrous consequences. It would prevent the renegotiation of our terms of membership to which the PM is committed; for largely unthought-through reasons more associated with a vague feeling of nationalism than with any rational consideration of the consequences.
The PM would have had to campaign for a ‘Yes’ vote; and would, without doubt, have to resign if he lost – causing a leadership battle before the next General Election.
The markets would take a dim view of the UK crashing out of the EU with very little thought for the consequences; a run on the pound, or stock market collapse would seriously endanger our fragile recovery from recession. The consequences of a premature ‘No’ vote would be both so unquantifiable and unpredictable as to make me at least consider voting ‘Yes’!
So I shall be ignoring Mr Afriyie’s egotistical blandishments; I shall be supporting James Wharton’s excellent private members’ bill; I shall be pressurising the PM for a proper renegotiation of our terms of membership; and if it is not forthcoming, I shall be campaigning and voting ‘No’ in a 2017 Referendum.
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