25 April 2016, London Palladium, London, Uk
This is a summary of remarks rather than a transcript
Tonight, I’m inviting you to make me redundant – and, into the bargain, make Nigel redundant. And I wouldn’t be doing if I were not confident that there will be plenty of openings for newly-unemployed MEPs in the boom that would follow our exit from the European Union. Why do we tie ourselves to the one part of the world that is not experiencing significant economic growth? The eurozone, incredibly, was the same size at the end of last year as it was in 2006. Every continent on this planet has grown over the past decade except Antartica and the European Union. We are a trading people. We dont sit on great natural resources here, we have to make our way by what we by and sell, that means we have to be where the customers are. And that means as long as we’re in the European Union, we cannot sign independent trade deals with non-EU countries.
The EU deal with Australia is being held up because some Italian tomato-growers are challenging it. The EU deal with Canada is being held up due to an unrelated dispute about Romanian visa. How have we put ourselves in a position where we can’t do those deals? Liz Kendall quotes some Davos men telling us that we can’t leave because we’d be worse off – but wages would rise, prices would fall. If we stay in, neither will happen.
It’s not just the financial price of EU membership – it’s the democratic price. We fought a civil war in this country to establish the principle that laws should not be passed nor taxes raised except by our own elected representatives. And now supreme power is held by people who tend to owe their positions to having just lost elections: Peter Mandelson, Neil Kinnock and what have you.
No one is talking about drawbridges or isolation. Nowhere else in the world do countries apologise for wanting to live under their own laws. New Zealand is not about to join Australia. Japan is not applying to join China – and do you hear anyone complaining about these bigoted Sino-sceptics in Tokyo? It is a natural healthy thing for a democracy to live under its own laws whilst trading with every other country in the world. The United Kingdom is the world’s fifth-largest country, its fourth-largest military power. How much bigger do we have to be before we have the confidence to raise our eyes to more distant horizons?