1. Who are Vote UK Out of EU?
Vote UK Out of EU is a fully-funded campaign based near Westminster led by broadcaster and columnist, Jon Gaunt. We were formerly known as the EU Referendum Campaign and have now re-branded to make our position absolutely clear: we do not want to renegotiate our position within the EU; we want our democratic right to vote in a straight ‘in or out’ referendum on whether the UK should stay in the EU. Our position is clear in our name – we want the UK out of the EU.
2. What’s the Government’s position on an in/out EU referendum?
Despite the fact that a clear majority of the public want a referendum on our EU membership, our Prime Minister, David Cameron, has decided on our behalf that the UK is better off being part of the EU so no referendum is needed. This is totally undemocratic – if Cameron is so convinced that he is right about the EU, he should seek to persuade the country of his view and allow the people to decide. He went ahead with the AV referendum, which no-one really wanted or cared about, so why not allow a referendum on the issue that increasingly affects every aspect of our daily lives?
3. What will the Vote UK Out of EU campaign be doing?
We will be working together with our supporters, other similar campaign groups and the media to exert maximum pressure on the Government and Parliament to give the British people what we all want – a referendum on whether we should stay in the EU or not.
Once this first step is achieved, we will be leading the campaign to vote the UK out of the EU.
4. Can Britain survive on its own though?
Leaving the EU does not mean that the UK will become isolated and cut-off from trading with the EU. Non-EU countries such as Norway and Switzerland export more per capita to the EU than the UK does.
On leaving the EU, the UK would be free to negotiate free-trade agreements directly with the EU, as well as with other major export markets such as China, USA, India and the rest of the world. Our trading position would also benefit from reduced regulation and taxes and the freedom to develop trading relationships directly with the 54 nations of the Commonwealth.
The UK is the sixth largest economy in the world – it has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and is a member of the G8, G20, WTO, NATO and the IMF. Once the UK has left the EU, it will be able to represent and protect its interests far more effectively than from within the constraints of the bureaucratic EU.
5. But wouldn’t we be risking half of our trade that’s with the EU?
First, this claim needs to be put into perspective: 80% of the UK economy is within the UK – UK citizens and UK businesses buying UK goods and services. Of the 20% of the UK economy that depends on international trade, around half (i.e. 10% of the total) is trade with the EU and the EU’s share of our international trade is on the decline.
The EU trade figures are also artificially boosted by the ‘Rotterdam effect’ – this is where UK exports to non-EU countries are sent via a transhipment centre such as Rotterdam and counted as ‘EU exports’, even though their ultimate destination is outside the EU.
Secondly, the UK has a significant trade deficit with the rest of the EU i.e. we buy far more from other EU countries than they buy from us – in 2009, the UK’s trade deficit in manufactured goods with the EU was £34.9bn. On leaving the EU, it would clearly be in the EU’s best interests to negotiate a new free trade agreement with the UK, its biggest customer, to ensure these levels of trade continued - the EU would have much more to lose than we would.
6. What’s wrong with staying part of the EU?
There are two main issues with the UK remaining part of the EU.
The first issue is the erosion of our democratic rights. The EU is effectively governed by the European Commission which is made up of 27 unelected Commissioners; the government of each member state has the right to appoint one Commissioner. The vast majority of all new EU laws are initiated by these Commissioners and their army of eurocrats who are completely unaccountable to the people and we whose sole agenda is ‘an ever closer union’.
Over the years, the EU has sought to exercise control over more and more policy areas that were once solely determined by Parliament such as employment rights, immigration, criminal justice, foreign affairs – the list goes on… In fact, it is estimated that between 50% and 80% of UK laws each year now come directly from the EU – so Parliament has ever less say over policy and it therefore makes ever less difference who you vote for to govern the UK. Our recent poll shows that, in many of these areas, well over 80% of people think that these policy areas should be controlled by the UK Government and not the EU.
The second issue is economic – our net contributions to the EU budget increased from £5.3bn in 2009 to £9.2bn in 2010 and they are estimated to exceed £10bn this year. Our gross contributions in 2010 were £19.7bn – that’s over £55m each and every day! – a very high price to pay for access to a ‘free trade’ area and a lot of unwanted interference in domestic issues. And now the EU is seeking to increase its future budget by a further 5%, while the member states are struggling to cut their own budget deficits.
The Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy, the EU’s subsidy systems for farmers and fishermen, uses up the largest proportion of the EU budget each year (approx. 42%) and results in higher food costs for everyone – it has been estimated that each British household pays an extra £1,380 per year in higher taxes and food bills as a result of the wasted expenditure and inefficiencies of the CAP and CFP.
On top of the EU budget, EU regulations are estimated to cost the UK approx £33bn per annum – this all gets passed on to taxpayers in higher taxes and to consumers in higher prices for goods and services. These costs also slow growth leading to fewer jobs, costing taxpayers more in welfare benefits.
7. Haven’t we already had a referendum on the EU?
No – in 1975, a referendum was held after we had already joined the European Economic Community (EEC). The question then asked was whether the UK should remain a member of the European Community (the ‘Common Market’). The public were led to believe that they were voting for a free trade area and nothing more.
Since 1975, the EEC has evolved into the EU and a whole raft of powers have been transferred from Westminster to unelected eurocrats in Brussels without the express consent of the British people.
Furthermore, no-one under the age of 54 has ever had an opportunity to have their say on the UK’s relationship with the EU. We believe that a referendum on the EU is long overdue and polls suggest that a clear majority of the British people agree.
8. Aren’t UKIP also campaigning to leave the EU?
Yes, but, unlike UKIP which is a political party, we are a cross-party campaign, inviting support from across the political spectrum. Support for an EU referendum and for leaving the EU is on the rise amongst supporters of all political parties.
9. What can I do to help?
We need your help to get the in/out EU referendum we want and there are several ways you can help:
• The first thing you can do, if you haven’t already done so, is register your support by signing up here: http://voteukoutofeu.co.uk/petition
• Follow us on Facebook by clicking ‘Like’ on our page: http://www.facebook.com/VoteUKoutofEU
• Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/VoteUKoutofEU
• Spread the word about Vote UK Out of EU amongst friends and family and ask them to sign up and follow us too.
• Write to your MP:
You can help by contacting your MP directly to let them know that the EU is an issue you care about and that you want a referendum. You should ask your MP whether they are in favour of an in/out EU referendum and, if not, to justify their position on democratic grounds.
You can send a message directly to your MP by entering your postcode here: http://www.writetothem.com/
Please also forward any response from your MP to us: firstname.lastname@example.org