Another View: Get out of Europe now

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The Independent Online
The eight-point Euro-"manifesto" set out by my colleagues and myself last week was dismissed by the Independent in its editorial columns as nostalgia blended with opportunism. We sound like good vote-seekers. That is what successful politicians do .

Yet the Independent is wrong. None of my colleague rebels hankers after an imperial past. We are free traders, the heirs of Cobden and Bright, not of Palmerston. We want our markets open to the world.

The European Union is merely a customs union with an accretion of petty regulations. There is a steady breeze of lofty internationalist sentiments but the Commission is a protectionist force. The Common Agricultural Policy is not a marginal irritation, it is the defining policy of the Brussels authorities, taking 70 per cent of its resources. The politicians who offer to halve the price of groceries by seceding from the zollverein (customs union) are being more than populist: we are correct. We are on the side of liberalism. The EU is merely mouldy mercantilism.

The EU's fish regime is described in the leader as an exercise in conservation. Maritime property rights are what the fish and the fishermen need. The seas are treated by Brussels as common, where nobody has tradable rights. The seas could be enclosed and defined, as our land has been.

In its heart of hearts the Tory party knows Britain is an independent, self-governing nation. This means we raise our own taxes and enact our own legislation. The Conservatives will awaken from their sleepwalking of the past 30 years. The EU is yesterday's story. Those of us who speak the truth ought not to be punished. Remember, we were pushed out for not voting for more cash for an entity its own auditors say is thoroughly corrupt.

The mailbag that each rebel has had since we were defrocked by the whips has been more than an encouragement. We realise we have tapped a deep exasperation with the contrived unanimity of the three main parties. The UK's membership of the Common Market was sold to us all as a trade alliance. Now we can see it plainly as a nascent federal state. The US, Canada and Mexico enjoy mutual free trade. They do not need regulations harmonising every aspect of commercial life and imposing costs.

Many of my Conservative colleagues want to see the institutions of the Union reformed and ameliorated. This is a mirage. The only sensible option is withdrawal from this socialist institution. All my intuition leads me to believe the EU will crumble. It may be through ever more Central European nations joining but it would be glorious if Britain's departure started its dissolution.

Teresa Gorman is the currently whipless Conservative MP for Billericay. We welcome contributions to `Another View', which will appear on a regular basis. They should be faxed to the Editor on 0171-293 2022.