UK Politics

Clegg's Argument on EU Dependent Jobs is Total Bollocks

7 May 2013 at 10:57

So Nigel Lawson writes a rational and well argued letter to The Times suggesting that now is the time for Britain to withdraw from the EU. Those of us who remember his shadowing of the D-Mark and his obsession with the ERM might have a wry smile on our faces, but that’s politics. The reaction to his letter from the Europhile side of the debate demonstrates what an appalling debate we will have, should we ever get an in-out referendum.

Nick Clegg has trotted out the tired old canard that 3 million British jobs are at risk if we leave. It was a bollocks argument fifteen years ago and it’s a bollocks argument now. We were told by the likes of Heseltine, Clarke and Kennedy in 1997 that if we didn’t join the euro 3 million British jobs would be at risk because the Eurozone wouldn’t want to trade with us. Our unemployment rate since then has been lower, on average, than virtually every Eurozone country. Does Nick Clegg seriously believe that we wouldn’t be able to export to or import from EU countries? Of course we would.

I say this as someone who is very pro-European and in 1983 used to argue against Labour politicians that we should stay in the EU. I haven’t got an anti-European bone in my body, but like those on the Eurosceptic side of the debate I tire of the way Brussels continue to erode our national sovereignty in all sorts of areas. For the first time in my adult life I can envisage circumstances where we should indeed withdraw from the EU. But not yet. I think we have to have one more canter around the reform course. Once the Eurozone decides what it wants to do, that is the moment for us to tell the EU how we see our future membership. If they tell us where we can stick our reform plans, then I think the game may well be up.

The challenge for Eurosceptics is not to allow us/them to be portrayed as anti-European. We’re not foaming at the mouth nationalistic xenophobes – well, most of us aren’t. We speak european languages. We have good friends in all sorts of european countries. We’re quite happy to have cross-european agreements on all sorts of things. But we’re tired of the way Brussels does its business. We are tired of unelected bureaucrats appearing to dictate what we do. We’re tired of national sovereignty being given away in areas where it should be retained. The EU has been its own worst enemy, and it shouldn’t be surprised that it has become incredibly unpopular, not just in this country but across Europe.

Unlike Nigel Lawson, I am not yet totally certain which way I would vote in an In/Out referendum. I know which way I am leaning, but I am persuadable. Just.

UPDATE: Channel 4’s ‘Factcheck’ comprehensively demolished Nick Clegg’s argument HERE

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