The following is my article on the EU referendum that was sent to the press just before the vote.
Please see below a response to the article in the Perthshire Advertiser of 10 June 2016 for you to use as you so wish before the EU Referendum on 23 June:
Thoughts on Forthcoming EU Referendum on 23 June 2016
It is good that the British people are finally getting the opportunity to have their say on long-standing concerns over our membership of the European Union (EU). It has taken a long time for one of our political parties to deliver it.
It is noted with interest, whilst finalising this letter, the article of 10 June 2016 from my council colleague and recently elected MSP, Alexander Stewart, arguing the case for ‘Brexit’ and I wholeheartedly agree with him. Reference in the article to the ‘pro-EU’ Enterprise and Infrastructure Committee was somewhat misleading since I am a member of it and only my council colleague, Willie Robertson, voiced that position.
I have always been somewhat sceptical of the EU project. The current union has grown out of all proportion to what we joined. It is also run by an unaccountable body of unelected officials and there does not appear to be any audited control of expenditure. It seems folk are increasingly irritated by pronouncements from senior bureaucrats, so-called economic experts who’ve been wrong before and leaders from other states warning the British people of the dire consequences of a ‘Brexit’ or any notion of reclaiming more control of our affairs. There is a democratic deficit when one member state has to persuade 27 others to share a consensus on issues. Alexander is quite correct to state that Holyrood could be made more democratic and accountable if EU constraints to courses of action are lifted as a result of ‘Brexit’, especially in devolved areas like agriculture and fishing.
The UK remains a ‘significant’ net contributor to the funding of the EU’s programme, a position that would continue with any further enlargement of membership. This would be more acceptable if the Eurozone economic policies were working but they seem predicated on austerity, low growth and record youth unemployment which many regard as a ‘failed model’.
The EU trading block erects barriers and tariffs on trade, when we should be pursuing free trading arrangements wherever possible as long as there is a mechanism to protect our own vital industries like steel, something the EU seems to put obstacles against.
I believe in the innate ability of the British people to produce and trade in goods of the highest quality effectively throughout the world, whilst protecting workers’ rights, often established prior to EU membership.
It is often stated that the EU has stopped a war but it completely failed to prevent a major ethnic conflict in the Balkans. I am not convinced that co-operation on our national security will be threatened by leaving the EU since all nations of the world have an interest in working together against the common enemy of terrorism.
Britain has a finite small land area for its increasing population and the current levels of net in-migration to the UK are not sustainable in terms of economy and social cohesion. The EU’s insistence on free movement of people leaves those who regard control of our borders as fundamental with little option but to consider ‘Brexit’.
I fail to see any long-term advantage to Britain of remaining part of the EU under the current set of proposals that David Cameron is trying to sell as a negotiated deal.”
Councillor Mike Barnacle
Independent Member for Kinross-shire
PS The thoughts expressed are my own and not those of the Independent Group at PKC.