I AM saying no to deeper ties with Europe, but yes to the rest of the world. I believe that the rationale behind the European Community was the fear of a third world war, in which Russia was seen as the aggressor; and also fear of the Germans. The pivotal point about the Community is the Common Agricultural Policy. If another war threatened, we would be self- sufficient in terms of food.
Now, of course, all that has changed. In the last two years Europe has done a U-turn; Russia has taken its ball and left the field; the Wall is down, and Russia is not the bogeyman it was.
We have destroyed our inshore fishing industry in Hull and Grimsby by giving away 80 per cent of our fishing rights; some ports, such as Liverpool, have been largely destroyed because they are pointing away from Europe and towards where our markets used to be: America and Australia. Out of the bureaucracy set up to create some cohesion in Europe grew these monstrous directives, which have had a devastating effect on the ability of our businessmen to do business.
Abattoirs have to be brought up to hygiene standards superior to those in an operating theatre, and the smallest will have to spend up to pounds 400,000 to reach them. These small abattoirs, often the focal point of a rural farming community, will all be closing down. Small butchers won't be allowed to use chopping blocks any more. There haven't been any mass poisonings in English villages for centuries.
There are marvellous anecdotes, such as cucumbers that have to be grown straight because curved ones won't fit in to the box. The bureaucracy has gone mad.
The idea that we're a little offshore island is absurd. What about Hong Kong, the 12th most successful trading nation in the world? We keep being told that Europe's 400 million (with the same products and the same economic problems) offer a wonderful opportunity: but what about the 4 billion potential customers in the rest of the world? We need to re-establish our connection with them.
The unique thing about the British economy is its invisibles (which are never added in to the balance of trade figures) and there our reputation for honesty and integrity is important. Our superior competitive advantage lies in the fact that the rest of the world trusts us, and we should exploit and develop that.
Yes, I have read the Maastricht treaty. It's sent me to sleep on several evenings. I only read the digest and I found even that a struggle. I shall vote against Maastricht until my dying day, whatever the threats.
Nicholas Budgen, 'old-style nationalist'
I'M fundamentally opposed to the further erosion of our sovereignty, and that's an old-style nationalist position. I perfectly understand that there are proper limits to nationalism, but I also believe that nationalism is an indispensable part of the identity of a nation.
For instance, I'm wholly opposed to European citizenship, since citizenship is an expression of loyalty to a state and this country's loyalty is overwhelmingly to the British state and no other; though that does not mean you can't co- operate with other nations.
When the Prime Minister said the Maastricht treaty had nothing to do with immigration, he was flatly wrong. Unless he was trying to make a wholly legalistic point, to say the treaty was not about immigration was simply untrue.
We should decide our own immigration policy. If the French wish to treat a very large number of people from north Africa, for good historical reasons, as French citizens with immigration rights, that's entirely up to them; but it doesn't destroy our right to say, we don't want these people in our country. We, for the same historical reasons, have accepted people from India and Sri Lanka, and a great deal of trouble it has caused.
We were extremely slow in restricting the immigration of these people into this country; but we did at least have the right to do it. It would be intolerable if we were prevented from stopping Algerians from setting up a Muslim/Algerian quarter in Wolverhampton.
I am opposed to the treaty wherever it takes away the right of the British Parliament to act in an unfettered manner. The core of the treaty is the proposal that we should achieve a single currency. This has already proved disastrous to Britain; and although it is said that we shall retain the right to opt out, this is only in the final stages. By the time we got to that last stage, a vast amount of damage would already have been done.
I'm reluctantly against a referendum because I believe in parliamentary sovereignty, and in general a referendum is inconsistent with that. However, the counter-arguments are becoming stronger. The Prime Minister is trying to confuse the issue by calling a general election. A referendum may be the least bad solution in the circumstances.
Those of us who are against the treaty can defeat it by parliamentary methods, and I am dead set on doing so, whatever the cost. Whether we have a different prime minister at the end depends on how Mr Major plays his hand.
Sir Teddy Taylor, 'old-style anti-EEC'
I AM very much in favour of Europe, its people and its culture; of friendship and free trade and co- operation. I am opposed to the European Community, which I regard as costly, bureaucratic, undemocratic and protectionist.
How did we get here? Listen to the words of Bob Marley, one of the great pop stars: 'Don't worry about anything because everything's going to be all right . . .' That, basically, has been the Government's attitude to European legislation.
When the House passed the Treaty of Rome, we were assured that all we were agreeing to was free trade. When we passed the Single European Act, we were assured that majority voting could only be used to enhance free-trade measures. When, in November 1987, we agreed dramatically to increase EC funding, we were assured this would bring strict budgetary controls and reduce spending on agricultural policy. Now, on Maastricht, we are assured it is a move towards decentralisation and democratic control.
Sadly, all these expectations have proved little more than a sick joke. On Tuesday in the Commons we had a Bill presented to control pornography, especially the appalling television channel called Red Hot Dutch, being sold in Manchester at pounds 47 per quarter. The programme comes from Holland. Thus, there is nothing at all we can do.
MPs demand action to control the cruelty of live animals being transported to the EC, but there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. MPs complain like mad about the pounds 1.1bn being spent this year on growing high-tar tobacco, which we dump in the Third World and east Germany; but, of course, there is nothing we can do.
The saddest aspect is that MPs are under the impression that Europe is an exciting growth area which it helps us to be associated with; whereas sadly, Europe's share of world trade is going down as it becomes less competitive and our costs are forced up.
The other factor is the ever-increasing growth of protectionism. By next year, spending on the agricultural policy will be pounds 26bn - pounds 500m per week - about half of which goes on the destruction, dumping and storage of surpluses.
But although very many MPs seem to share my sentiments, they say, we've gone so far it's very difficult to get out now. Only a tiny handful are really enthusiastic about the EC. I don't think I've ever felt quite so depressed in my life. People are heading towards a cliff and they don't know what they can do about it.
Bernard Jenkin, 'young irreconcilable'
I HAVE read the Maastricht treaty: both the HMSO publication and the British Management Data publication (easily the best digest I've seen so far), which sets out the Treaty of Rome as it will look when amended by the Treaty on European Union.
The idea that this is a framework for European states in co- operation is moonshine. It's about giving power to an appointed bureaucracy with powers gradually to expand its legal competence over larger and larger areas of member states' domestic law.
European federalism is analogous to Communism. It's a creed that obsesses its victims, who talk about the tide of history; about others being left behind - it's all complete, vacuous nonsense.
The really keen ministers will not talk about what the legal effects of the treaty actually mean. Even Kenneth Clarke said, 'It's like a mortgage agreement: you never read the small print.' This is what we're up against.
You can speak to Europhile ministers and they know that the currency opt-out is just a ruse to buy off party opinion. They have absolutely no intention that Britain should not join the single currency, if it happens.
What sort of Europe is it where a central bureaucracy has so much power and ministers of elected governments spend more time negotiating with each other than being accountable to their own parliaments? Last week one of our safety valves blew. A deeply unpopular policy - about the pit closures - proved unsustainable in the House of Commons. Most people in the country feel that the House of Commons did a good job by correcting what appeared to be an authoritative and high- handed move. If it had been the EC or the Council of Ministers who had imposed that policy upon Britain, where would be the accountability?
Where does an aggrieved people turn, to get its views represented and policy changed? Some might say, the European Parliament . . . and if it is to have the final say on matters of central policy throughout the Community, we are talking about a single state and a single government.
There has never been a country in the world which has contained people from different cultures, languages and traditions that has lived together happily and co-operatively. For proof, you only need to look at the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Quebec is bursting out of Canada; the Flems and the Walloons hardly speak to each other in Belgium. And if you cite the United States, I can only say that if you were to impose a constitution similar to theirs, under which all schoolchildren salute the flag and sing the national anthem every morning, I think you'd have the British people out on the streets]
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