East Devon constituency: Readers’ questions answered - European Union
PUBLISHED: 18:30 18 April 2015 | UPDATED: 08:48 20 April 2015
East Devon constituency candidates for the General Election answer readers’ questions
Are we better in or out of the EU, and why?
Andrew Chapman (UKIP)
Why are so many business people in favour of continued association with a belligerent continent in prolonged recession which still has to learn the lessons Britain has learned over 900 years of peaceful development? EU is a Customs Union which prevents free trade with the rest of the world. We will still trade with Europe if we leave, without being tied to the command and control economy which the USSR eventually realised can’t be made to work. Our legal and political structures are entirely different and incompatible. Let’s just be friends - and trade with the whole world.
Stuart Mole (Liberal Democrats)
Better in, for sure. The European Union is far from perfect and the UK should join with other member nations to achieve genuine reform, whether in tackling waste and unnecessary regulation, increasing democracy and accountability and expanding the single market. I do not want the creation of a European super state. But pulling out of the EU would be a disastrous blow to the UK’s economic prosperity. Half of British trade is with the EU and three million British jobs are linked to that trade. Any alternative arrangement would leave the UK poorer, isolated and with diminished influence.
Stephen Race (Labour)
We are better off in the EU. Aside from the decades of peace and prosperity that have followed the establishment of the EU, we benefit from being a member of the largest trading block in the world - when China, a country of 1.4bn people, and India, with 1.25bn people, agree trading terms they do so with an EU of over 500m people with a strong UK presence, not just of our 64m people. The EU is vital to our future as a trading nation; it may need reform, and it may sometimes be frustrating to work with 27 other nation states to reach agreement, but it’s worth it. The Tories have put party before country, and risk incredible instability by promising a referendum.
Hugo Swire (Conservative)
It is for the people of the UK to decide whether we are better in or out, not a small bunch of politicians at Westminster. Labour and the Lib Dems won’t give people a referendum. UKIP can’t - and a vote for them only makes it more likely that Ed Miliband will become Prime Minister. Only the Conservatives can and will deliver an EU referendum - and by the end of 2017. Personally, I, like many people, don’t find the question so clear cut. I would like to see an attempt at further reform of the EU before I make my final decision.
Claire Wright (Independent)
The EU most certainly is not perfect, and requires change and improvement. However, I believe that we are better in than out. Withdrawal would harm the South West and the farming sector. UK total EU trade, some £370 billion, would be endangered and inward investment, the highest in Europe, which, last year provided or protected 111,000 jobs, could be undermined.
Both main parties maintain that some three million jobs are related to EU membership. As members, we have cleaner water and the EU’s landfill tax has increased recycling, and parts of East Devon’s countryside benefit from protection by EU legislation.