Good evening to you all.
I hope tonight you will hear a reasoned debate about the future of our relationship with the EU, free of outrageous scaremongering from either side, free of doom-laden prophesises that are becoming increasingly unbelievable, and free of endless data that seeks to prove the outcome of either leaving or remaining in the EU.
The truth is – no one can really predict the financial consequences of leaving the EU or indeed remaining within it.
What we do know is that we are a very successful nation financially, with a flourishing economy, a highly skilled workforce operating in a low corruption environment, a language that is fast becoming the worlds language for trade, aviation, medicine and science, employment laws that protect our workers yet still encourage entrepreneurs to set up in the UK.
I can’t see much of that changing whether we stay in or we leave the EU. So let me park the financial arguments for the time being.
What we can do is highlight trends, point out strategic plans that already exist and discuss the wider points of democracy, sovereignty and migration. We know that very few people see the EU as a success. Even the most ardent supporters of the EU recognise it is deeply flawed, undemocratic and overly bureaucratic. They support it with an almost astonishing hope that it can in some way be reformed.
But we have seen from our Prime Ministers failed attempt to alter our relationship with the EU it is nigh on impossible to change anything to our favour. He did not achieve any treaty changes, no repatriation of powers, no chance to return to making our own laws as we once did. He failed on migration, we are still bound to support the structural funds that transfer funds evermore eastward. The much heralded so called red card is no red card at all. It only works if it gains the support of a majority of EU countries.
But let me make the most important point I am going to make tonight.
This referendum is not about choosing between leaving the EU, or staying in the EU as it is today. If we vote to remain the EU will take that as a green light to press ahead with its plans for a federal Europe.
The EU is continuing on an unstoppable journey towards ever-closer political and financial union. The treaties already signed require it and the unelected Commission wants it.
Over the last forty years we have seen the EU change from a simple common market, that makes sense, to a political experiment that has never had the approval of the people.
The EU has become increasingly remote from the people, yet seeks to try to influence everything we do. What might be right for an agricultural economy in Eastern Europe might not be right for an outwardly facing high tech country like ours. But it seems that the EU believes it is more important to make us all do things the same way rather than to do the right things.
Lets us be clear. For the EU to work in any practical way it will be essential for there to be a full United States of Europe, with a single currency, a single decision making parliament, a single language, flag, army, police force, legislation, central bank, homogenous taxation, social security, employment legislation and criminal justice system across the EU as well as a thorough break up of the nation states and sovereign parliaments and cultures that so often get in the way.
In other words a European super state with no internal borders and only one supreme government, that of the EU Commission in Brussels, with an unelected President and a powerless rubber stamp of a Parliament.
That might work, but it is not a future I want for my children and my grandchildren.
I don’t understand why anyone would believe that decisions taken for the good of the EU as a whole, but often not in the interests of the UK could be better than decisions taken in the UK for the UK by a UK parliament.
We can see the dampening effect on wages that migration is having. We see the pressure on housing caused by more people in this country resulting in sky-high rents and house prices. Big business might welcome this but ordinary folk are paying the price.
We are already hearing about the EU planning to fast track Turkeys entry into the EU, as a response to the migrant crisis. Only the EU could think adding 75m more people, who will have the right to come to the UK, and who culturally have nothing in common with us, helps to solve the migration problem!
In my lifetime the UK population has been in the 40ms, now it is 65m and growing. Much of this growth is from migration. But this migration is unfair and biased towards EU countries. We need to attract the very best people from around the world not just the EU.
Pressure will continue to grow on all countries in the EU to convert to the Euro and that has not been a success. We can see the structural problems created by the Euro. Greece is suffering unnecessarily because it remains within the Euro. If it were to leave the Euro it could devalue its currency, which makes its products and holidays cheaper resulting in more of us spending our money in Greece, which then starts to rebuild the Greek economy.
This referendum provides us with an opportunity to reposition our country.
An opportunity to regain our seat at the World Trade Organisation so that we can once again make our own trade agreements.
An opportunity to prepare ourselves for a modern, rapidly changing world where we can command a place at the top table free from the restrictions of the EU. There are 155 countries who trade freely with the EU, but are not governed by it.
We can do exactly the same. I can assure you, Mr Mercedes and Mr BMW will insist on trading with us when we leave the EU.
And remember the EU is not Europe.
It is clear the EU needs us more than we need the EU. It is time for us to put our own people first and leave the EU before it grinds to a halt which it surely must do.
I am proud of our heritage, proud of our culture, proud of our country and proud of our place in this vibrant and ever changing world. I invite you to stand up for this country and our people and vote to leave the EU.