The debate: EU - opt in or opt out?

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EUROPEAN Union – love it or loathe it, it has had an impact on the laws of this country and has invoked a range of feelings.

Last week, MPs debated in parliament on whether a referendum on the country’s involvement in the EU should be held and despite a backbench rebellion, which included south Northants MP Andrea Leadsom, the bid was refused.

Now with crisis talks being held and international pressure on the Greek prime minister to stay with the euro it continues to be a political hot potato.

As the European project teeters on the edge of financial disaster the Advertiser and Review has invited two people to make their arguments for and against Britain’s commitment to its continental neighbours.

Brought up in Towcester, Scott Collins is the Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesman for south Northants and has fought several General Elections in the district.

Jim Broomfield is a member of Brackley Town Council, a businessman, and represented the UK Independence Party at the last General Election in Daventry.

We have asked them to go head to head, with Mr Collins arguing for greater involvement in the European Union and Mr Broomfield against.

Here’s what they said ...

FOR BEING IN THE EU

I am keenly in favour of both Europe and Britain’s membership in Europe. This is rarely a popular choice. But it is in my view better to be sensible and reasoned on the subject on Europe. It is all too easy to be populist but it doesn’t make it right.

We have a very real problem in Britain that we seem completely unable to have a sensible debate on Europe like so many other issues that evoke passion in people. Issues from fox hunting to criminal justice and the economy to Europe.

Europe and the EU are not perfect and I am not blind to its problems but the alternatives are no better and are in fact worse.

Britain was and still should be a major player in Europe leading the way, but far too often we spend time complaining how unfair everything is.

The world does not stop at our own borders and on issues such as international crime, terrorism and environmental issues Europe has been the forum where coordinated efforts have been driven forward.

Far too often Europe is the whipping boy for anything vaguely unpopular. The human rights act being a prime example. The issues often quoted are rarely down to the human rights act and more often simply down to the way our own national justice system has interpreted the issues.

I am a patriot but see little patriotism in cutting ourselves off from one of our largest trading groups creating market instability and risking British jobs to boot.

If we were to remove ourselves from the EU the cost in jobs and industry would be huge with Britain quickly finding itself on the outside of a group where once we led and in reality should be leading again.

When the AV vote was being discussed the very same Conservatives who now want a referendum argued a referendum would be a distraction whilst in the middle of such an international financial turmoil.

I want to see a referendum on Europe and I want the British people to have their say in a sensible debate fought on the issues rather than party politics. I will support a referendum when next a major treaty change requires sanction from the UK Government.

Scott Collins

Liberal Democrats

AGAINST BEING IN THE EU

Do you like giving your hard earned cash away?

I certainly don’t.

But that is exactly what is happening; we are being taken for idiots – not only by the unelected bureaucrats in the EU but more importantly by our elected Governments over the past 40 years.

The European court of Auditors has yet again refused to sign off the accounts, for the 16th year in a row. Yes, 16 years.

If you are surprised then you shouldn’t be – fraud and corruption is rife.

MEPs receive expenses without ever having to prove they have incurred them – why?

Why does the RAF fly aircraft to France for re-painting?

Because France does not enforce the EU Coshh Regulations (control of substances hazardous to health) therefore they undercut British companies who are unfairly penalised for abiding by the rules.

Without a doubt we need to have a trading agreement with the EU-zone but do we need to be giving them £45 million per day for the pleasure?

All the main parties have promised a referendum on this issue but what happens when it is discussed in Parliament? They all force their MPs with a three line whip to vote against the referendum – some discussion!

They don’t even trust their own MPs on this issue, never mind the likes of you and me.

Can you remember when Chris Hume and Ken Clarke said we should be in the Euro because it would be good for us?

Thank goodness we didn’t.

At least we have control of interest rates and can devalue if we need to in the future, unlike Greece and all the poor souls tied to the EU-zone treadmill.

Before finishing I must congratulate our MP Andrea Leadsom for voting in favour of a referendum. At least she put country before party.

Councillor Jim Broomfield

UKIP

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