After three months as an MEP, I’m already fed up of hearing “more Europe” as the answer to every problem

After three months as an MEP, I’m already fed up of hearing “more Europe” as the answer to every problem

So BrexitCentral’s editor, Jonathan Isaby, asked me to share my impressions as a new MEP, after my first three months or so “in the belly of the beast” – or at least I think that was how he put it.

Well, a bit of background first: I’ve been happily “banging on about Europe” for over 25 years – long before it was fashionable – and despite senior figures in the Conservative Party in the past warning it would damage my career – which it did! But I was so incensed when I realised that I had been blatantly lied to in 1975 when I voted to Remain – the only time I have ever subsequently regretted the way in which I voted. I soon realised it was never really just about a “Common Market” but always really about “ever closer union”.

So I became determined both that the British people would never again be misled in the same way and that the Conservative Party should not leave the European Parliament just to those who subscribe to “ever closer union”. On that point, I am very pleased to report that many of my British MEP colleagues (although sadly not all) are of a like mind and reject that defeatist mantra.

So I first stood for the European Parliament back in 1994 and then again three more times, making me, I believe, the longest Euro-committed current Conservative MEP. After 23 years of patience, I was finally returned in June this year when I replaced my 2014 party list colleague, Vicky Ford, upon her election as MP for Chelmsford.

During these first three months, I have not been surprised to find myself sat in meeting after meeting, listening to the Euro-elite of Juncker, Barnier, Verhofstadt et al give the same answer for every problem and challenge: more Europe, more integration and more regulation. They really do not ‘get’ it – the rejection of their centralist, paternalistic model. That inspired the populist (used as a term of abuse here) inspired Brexit in the UK or what inspires opposition to the EU “project” amongst the ordinary people in so many other countries.

In the UK we debate endlessly whether we need to control our borders – although to me it is a simple no-brainer: the answer must be yes, if we wish to remain a sovereign country. We wonder whether Brexit will be good for jobs; yes, of course it will be. And we ask whether we should be in the single market: again, to me the answer is obviously no as it could prevent us from accessing the larger world markets and a belief in free trade has always been and still should be the basic economic policy of the Conservative Party.

I thought for years before I came here that there was a hidden agenda; a dastardly plot to ratchet us quietly into a “United States of Europe”. But the big surprise since arriving here is that it’s as clear as a pikestaff that it is no secret here. Almost everyone accepts that this place is about delivering “The Project” – a single superstate called Europa. Never mind that the majority of Europe’s citizens don’t actually want to give up their national sovereignty – what do they know?! – they must be bribed and cajoled into acceptance.

So never mind just “take back control” of our laws, our money and our borders, Brexit is actually all about defending our nearly a thousand years of independence as a sovereign nation state.

Are we really so lacking in national self-confidence that the Country of Drake, Wellington, Nelson, Churchill and Thatcher is willing to betray the blood split by countless generations of our forefathers? Do we really want to meekly capitulate where others over the centuries failed?

So come on Great Britain (and Northern Ireland), let the British lion roar again and send Juncker and his fellow travellers scurrying back to their burrows. The British lion is back lean, mean and hungry – and ready to venture out into the wide world again.

I have no doubt the future is very bright for the UK. If only all the current generation had the courage of our forefathers to grasp this moment in history and really make the most of it.