Brexit must mean Brexit

One hundred and eleven days ago, some seventeen million people voted for this country to leave the European Union. That is a mandate larger than any Government, including this one, has ever had.

The backlash has been vicious and ongoing. Some one hundred and seventy days before the Prime Minister intends to have delivered notice to the EU, we have had a debate in the cradle of democracy, led by those who lost the election, whose entire purpose is to frustrate the seventeen million people who voted for us to leave.

The debate has now moved on from Brexit or Remain, to Hard or Soft Brexit – or as one Bremoaner put it, a Long Brexit. Remain supporter after Remain supporter has stood up in the House of Commons and claimed that voters backing Brexit didn’t know what they were voting for, or were not voting for us to leave the Single Market.

It is certainly true that there was no detailed plan for Brexit on the ballot paper. Exit polling (much more accurate than other polling, since it asks people who have just voted) suggests that the number one reason people gave for voting Brexit was a desire to “take back control” of Britain’s laws. The second reason people gave for voting Brexit was a desire to “take back control” of immigration, including the ability to choose which people come into our country.

Membership of the Single Market is incompatible with taking back control of Britain’s laws. The Single Market has an incredibly complex and voluminous legal framework to make it work. That framework is imposed by the European Commission and enforced by the European Courts of Justice, based in Luxembourg. It isn’t possible to have free access to the Single Market without accepting the legal framework that comes with it.

Membership of the Single Market is akin to remaining a member of the European Union. It will, by necessity, require the decisions of the ECJ to remain sovereign, essentially allowing a foreign court to continue overruling the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The difference between the ECJ and the ECtHR, which is not part of the EU, is that decisions made in Luxembourg (ECJ) are mandatory, while decisions made in Strasbourg (ECtHR) are merely advisory.

It has also been made very clear by the other Member States of the European Union that membership of the Single Market is underpinned by Freedom of Movement. Many of those who voted for Brexit clearly did so with the intention of ending Freedom of Movement. Not, as Sir Kier Starmer MP, the Shadow Brexit Minister, suggested today some small movement on Freedom of Movement.

For British business it is very worrying that membership of the Single Market may be taken away. This is because the narrative about that membership suggests that there is no halfway house between membership of the Single Market and massive trade tariffs.

It is entirely irresponsible for people to suggest that to be outside the Single Market will be a financial disaster. It is no surprise that the same people who told you that the entire world would end if the UK electorate didn’t do as they say and vote to remain are those who are now suggesting that membership of the Single Market must be a red line.

As the Brexiteers keep trying to make clear to the world, and to business, the United Kingdom is the fifth largest economy on the planet. We have no free trade agreement with our largest customer, the United States. It is simply dishonest to suggest that Germany and France will want to impose huge trade tariffs on us, given the number of jobs in those countries that rely on exports to the UK. It is also dishonest to suggest those trade tariffs will be enormous, given the World Trade Organisation rules that would engage if we left without a trade deal. Germany doesn’t want to see the price of a Mercedes go up by 10% in the UK, because we’ll simply start buying Jaguars or Lexus’.

Polling indicates that voters are more able to identify with having voted Brexit or Bremain than with any of the political parties. It is the defining decision of our generation, and it is a subject that will dominate British politics for the next few years – in a way that no decision has since the Corn Laws. Any MP who represents a seat that voted hugely for Brexit and is perceived to be trying to frustrate that democratic decision will need to look nervously over their shoulder come 2020.

When we leave the European Union, on or before the 31st March 2019, voters who backed Brexit will expect that, in Mrs May’s now infamous phrase, Brexit has meant Brexit. It cannot be that somehow we are still controlled by the unelected Eurocrats.

Brexit does not mean keeping Freedom of Movement. Brexit does not mean allowing the European Courts of Justice to retain powers over British laws. Brexit does not mean some form of Associate Membership of the EU.

Brexit must mean Brexit.

What does Human Rights mean to me?

I don’t like being told what to do. It’s a failing I’ve had since childhood. As a result, at heart, I’m a Tory. Because if I don’t like being told what to do by other people, I loathe being told what to do by the State.

Since I don’t like being told what to do by the State, many people assume that I would, like far too many Tories in my experience, dislike the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA), or its precursor, the European Convention on Human Rights & Fundamental Freedoms (to give it its full name).

But it is precisely that loathing of being told what to do, that means I am an advocate for the HRA, and the British-inspired Convention. It is my respect for the rule of law, which I felt all my life but only came to understand while studying law, that leads me to be grateful for a framework of rules that isn’t about what you can’t do, but what the State cannot do to you.

It often surprises people when you tell them that the Convention was inspired by the British. In fact, it was more than that; it was almost entirely written by a Conservative lawyer, Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, who was both Home Secretary and Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain in his time. Maxwell-Fyfe, who became Lord Kilmuir in 1954, was a prosecutor at Nuremburg, so he had witnessed first-hand the vile excesses of a State where the rule of law had been warped by evil.

It saddens me that Conservatives have taken against the Human Rights Act. You would think, by looking at the way the HRA is derided by some Tories, from our new Prime Minister down, that it was some monstrous foreign construct imposed on them from above. Many probably think it is – there are Tories who believe anything with the phrase European in it is related to the EU. But it is especially sad when you consider that it was a Tory MP, Sir Edward Gardner QC, who first introduced a Private Members Bill to incorporate the Convention rights into English law. Indeed, before that Mrs Thatcher had promoted amendments to the Scotland Bill in 1977 which would have incorporated the Convention rights into UK law.

It took a Labour Government to introduce the Human Rights Act. Tory support was far om absent when the HRA was debated at second reading, in February 1998. But concerns about sovereignty, hopefully addressed by the sight of the Act in practice, led the Tory opposition to vote against it. In my view that was a mistake, and one that presaged a worrying move towards outright opposition, not just to the Human Rights Act, but also to the principles espoused in the Convention.

The rights protected in the Convention are misnamed “European” rights. They are no more European than any rights protected by a putative ‘British’ Bill of Rights would be British. The rights protected by the Convention are universal, though their recognition by States is patchier.

Everyone deserves the right to life, as protected by Article 2. Everyone deserves the right not to be tortured, or subjected to degrading or inhuman treatment or punishment, protected by Article 3. Everyone deserves right not to be enslaved, provided by Article 4. Everyone deserves the right to liberty and security of the person, protected by Article 5. Everyone deserves the right to a fair trial, provided by Article 6. Everyone deserves the right not to be retrospectively penalised, provided in Article 7. Everyone deserves the right for their private family life to be respected, and that’s protected by Article 8. Everyone deserves the right of freedom of conscience, religion and thought, and so says Article 9. Everyone deserves freedom of expression, which is protected in Article 10. Everyone deserves the right to assemble and associate, protected by Article 11. Everyone deserves the right to marry, provided by Article 12. Everyone deserves the right not to be discriminated against in the enjoyment of these rights, under Article 14. And under Protocol 1, everyone deserves the right not to have our property taken away except in the public interest and with compensation (Article 1, Protocol 1). Everyone deserves the right of fair access to education (Article 2, Protocol 1). Everyone deserves the right to free and fair elections (Article 3, Protocol 1).

It is in the balancing of these rights that the most contentious and controversial cases come forward. Those that get the most publicity involve the right for a private family life, competing with the right to freedom of expression. Newspaper editors were concerned about the law being used to create a “right of privacy” law before the HRA was introduced; despite reassuring words from the then Home Secretary, Jack Straw QC, just such a right has effectively been crafted by the judiciary. Rather controversially, Lord Falconer, the former Lord Chancellor, suggested that Parliament was cogniscient of the precedents when they passed the HRA, and therefore that Parliament had intended a right of privacy to grow up. Indeed, Parliament was pretty clear during the debate on second reading that it did not wish such a right to be provided without Primary Legislation.

It is true that most of the rights protected by the Convention were already rights in this country before 1951. The Convention, and by extension the HRA, doesn’t give us many new rights.

Without the HRA, the State couldn’t simply take my life. It couldn’t torture me, or subject me to inhumane or degrading punishment. It couldn’t sell me into slavery. These things are already illegal. But I can think of real world examples where these things still happen; police shootings of unarmed suspects, a bullying culture in an army barracks, trafficked people working slavery hours in factories right here in Suffolk.

But there is a huge difference between the theoretical provision of those rights, and their enforcement. All the HRA does is to incorporate the Convention into British law. Its effect is to allow British judges, rather than “foreign” judges, to determine cases in the British courts. Frankly, I’ve never been certain what anyone’s objection to that could be.

We know from history what happens when the State doesn’t respect the rights of its citizens. In Nazi Germany, those who the State had decided were to be discriminated against saw their property rights infringed, their freedom of expression curtailed, and finally their rights not to be enslaved, not to be subject to torture, inhumane or degrading punishments, and their right to life, all extinguished.

It is not just the far Right that has a history of infringing the rights of others. The biggest mass murderer of 20th Century Europe was from the far Left – Josef Stalin. In Stalin’s Soviet Union your rights could be extinguished by the whim of a State that didn’t recognise the rule of law. Undesirable people were sent to Siberia, or Lubyanka, or simply disappeared. The Socialist Republic forced the collectivisation of farms and assumed control over the industrial output. In my view those acts were simple theft, and crucially they would be illegal under the Human Rights Act; the British State couldn’t simply assume control of private businesses, or force landowners to hand over their land, at least without good reason and without compensation. It is these protections that prevent us from becoming enslaved by our Governments.

People argue that such extremes couldn’t happen here, an argument that is rather offensive to the people of Germany or Russia, since it implies that their culture is more susceptible to extremism than ours. It is precisely because they could happen here that we need to be constantly vigilant in protecting our rights, and the rights of others.

The hardest charge for an advocate of the HRA to defend is when it is used by those society shuns. Yet this is precisely what it is for. The only way I know my rights are defended is by defending the rights of others.

Defending the rights of terrorists, of murderers, of criminals, that is how I know that the rights of everyone else are protected.

There are those who say that a terrorist, or a murderer, has voluntarily surrendered their rights by their failure to abide by societies rules. Or that the rights of law abiding citizens should be put before the rights of criminals. Where, these people ask, are the victims’ rights considered?

This seriously misunderstands the point of human rights. Firstly, rights are universal. They belong to everyone – criminal and victim alike. Second, they belong to individuals, not to collectives. They exist to prevent the extremes of a State, not to prevent the extremes of individuals. There are other laws for that.

The way we set our society apart from that which the terrorists wish us to be is by recognising and protecting their rights. The people best at this are the Scandinavians. Anders Breivik received a painfully fair trial, despite murdering dozens of children five years ago. When two six-year-old boys killed a playmate in Trondheim back in 1994, those children were never named, unlike the two children who killed James Bulger the same year. The law recognised that there was little to be gained from naming children, and so their rights were protected.

Sadly, the UK isn’t perfect when it comes to respecting the rights of those who society shuns, or who shun society. The UK State has taken upon itself the right to kill British citizens without trial, outside of a war, if they are suspected of terrorism. Even where British lives are not in immediate danger. The incoming Prime Minister, Theresa May, has intimated that the UK State will not guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in this country, suggesting that their rights will be a part of the Brexit negotiations.

A few years ago the care on elderly wards at Ipswich Hospital was so bad it was described as criminal. Had that situation not been dealt with, there would have been a good argument to be made for a case under Article 3, the right against torture, degrading treatment or inhumane punishment.

I’ve had personal experience of having to enforce my Human Rights as well. I have seen friends of mine discriminated against by police officers because of the colour of their skin. I have had the State attempt to restrict my freedom of religion. So for me the Human Rights cause is both morally right, and personally vital.

Such abuses are thankfully rare in the UK. Sadly, the capacity for abuses remains; the huge increase in racist attacks after the EU referendum shows just how fragile the society we take for granted could be.

So what do Human Rights mean to me? They’re the basis for our whole society; the framework by which we ensure our freedom. They’re vital, and no matter what they are called, they must not be weakened or infringed.

Nuclear weapons renewal? Not in my name…

One of the things that Theresa May will have had to do when she became Prime Minister is to sit down and write a letter.

This letter is entirely private, and we should hope that it is never ever read. It is a “letter of last resort” and gives instructions to the commanding officer of Britain’s nuclear submarines, to be followed in the event of a nuclear war wiping out the British Government.

Every Prime Minister writes a letter, and it is destroyed unopened when that Prime Minister leaves office, leaving its contents known only to them. So we should hope and pray that Mrs May’s letter is never ever read.

Nuclear weapons exist, and their existence is a tragedy which has the potential to end the world. That Britain has nuclear weapons is a matter of historical fact, thanks to the decisions made by the Labour Government after World War Two. The nuclear weapons that Clement Atlee commissioned have been replaced and updated, and on Monday Parliament will be asked, once again, to approve the purchase of the new Successor submarines, to replace the Vanguard class submarines that currently make up the UK’s Continuous At Sea Deterrent.

In some ways the decision to schedule the vote on Trident replacement is more about politics than it is about the need for the UK to update these submarines. The new Prime Minister parked her tanks on the centre ground when she took power last week, and while there have been some right-wing appointments in her Cabinet, moderates like Amber Rudd, Justine Greening, Liz Truss, Greg Clark, and Ben Gummer, have all seen preferment. This is an issue where Tory Party strategists believe that the public concerns about Jeremy Corbyn’s national security positions will help secure the next General Election.

Tory Party strategists may well be right; Labour Party policy is in favour of replacing Trident, but Mr Corbyn and the majority of the new members are firmly against it. The level of support for nuclear weapons in the country is really quite surprisingly high. But just occasionally the minority opinion is the right thing to do.

Nuclear weapons are massively expensive, and completely pointless. As I have pointed out before, there is a reason they call it MAD. Mutually Assured Destruction is a policy that would see everybody dead. Despite seventy years of conflict since the last time anyone used a nuclear weapon, the appalling impact of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has meant that nobody has ever used them again.

As I have written before, I don’t believe any Government will ever use them. Of the nine states with nuclear weapons, two, India & Pakistan, have been at war with each other a number of times. North Korea is led by a madman and is technically still at war with South Korea and the United States. Israel has been attacked on an almost daily basis by Iranian sponsored terrorists of Hamas and Hezbollah. Not once have any of these countries used the dread power that they have at their command. Because they know that it would be entirely mad to do so.

The UK remains a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. The Government is committed to multi-lateral disarmament. Yet while these weapons are updated, and “improved” to make them harder to defend against and even more deadly, true disarmament will not happen.

Normally I would argue passionately against unilateral actions. If your enemy has a weapon, you need it too. But that isn’t the case with nuclear weapons. As a member nation of NATO, we live under the US and French nuclear umbrella. If we were attacked by a nuclear state, our NATO allies are treaty bound to defend us, or to respond with nuclear force. NOT having our own nuclear weapons would make absolutely no difference to our nation’s defence; all it would mean is that we wouldn’t be able to make a belligerent nuclear attack on any nation. Does anyone really want us to have the capacity to make a belligerent nuclear attack on another nation?

On Monday our MPs will troop through the yes lobby and vote in favour of renewing Trident. Almost all Tory MPs will support it, and many Labour MPs will follow their party policy as well. But, despite being a tribal Tory voter, I will be, in spirit, with those MPs from all parties who vote against renewing our nuclear weapons. We do not need these weapons. We cannot afford these weapons. We should not be wasting this money on such pointless weapons systems.

Andrea v Theresa – unknown v unlikeable

So some 26 years after Tory MPs defenestrated our last female Prime Minister, they have ensured that the next PM will be the UK’s second female one. And what great options they have given the Tory Party membership. One candidate says look at my experience, just ignore the failure to control immigration, the racist “go home” vans and the fact I called you the nasty party. The other candidate says look at my stellar career in the City, just ignore the fact that I’ve inflated my importance and haven’t really done much of any note.

Whichever way you look at it, the options Tory Party members are given are flawed. Suddenly David Cameron isn’t looking so bad, after all.

The questions are easier to pose for Andrea Leadsom, the answers harder to come by. A relatively junior Minister, she has served as the City Minister and the Energy Minister. Indeed, one local newspaper reporter thought she was still the City Minister when dismissing her chances of getting on the ballot just a week ago. She has not served as a Cabinet Minister, and to my knowledge has never attended a Cabinet Meeting. She has very little experience of Government. She is on the ballot for one reason only – she gave some barnstorming speeches in favour of remain, and she isn’t Michael Gove.

The questions are a lot harder for Theresa May, and the answers perhaps easier to come by. A highly experienced senior politician, Mrs May has served as Home Secretary, usually the graveyard of a political career, without huge controversy for the last six years. Previously she was a Shadow Cabinet Minister under David Cameron, Michael Howard, Iain Duncan Smith and William Hague. She can certainly say look at my experience. And yet…

Mrs May’s tenure at the Home Office doesn’t fill one with confidence in her ability to be a great liberal Conservative Prime Minister. She was tasked with reducing immigration to the tens of thousands. The number of people from outside the EU has gone up. She was a part of the Remain campaign for the EU referendum, but was locked in a box after acknowledging that we can’t control immigration from EU countries if we remain in the Single Market. Her time at the Home Office saw racist “Go Home” vans sent out to drive around the streets of London, saw foul and vile abuses at the Yarls Wood Immigration Detention Centre, abuse which is still going on and is still being denied by the Home Office. She has overseen a total collapse of morale in the police, and huge cuts to Border Security, leaving most airports and seaports in the country totally unsecured. You can spend all you like at Heathrow, but when any idiot with a sail boat can ship across from Holland, France or Belgium in relative safety, it is like bolting the front door while leaving the back open.

More concerning are Mrs May’s known positions. She backed scrapping the Human Rights Act 1998 and pulling the UK out of the European Convention on Human Rights & Fundamental Freedoms. She has now retracted her view on withdrawal from the ECHR, but she still backs the ludicrous idea of a British Bill of Rights (we’ve already got one, for starters, and why should only British people have rights?).

She tells her local newspaper that one of her priorities would be to hold a free vote on foxhunting, which was of course in the Tory manifesto, but which has just about no support in the UK anymore.

In one of our local newspapers today, the Ipswich MP Ben Gummer makes a timely intervention on immigration, saying much more eloquently than could I, exactly what many liberal Conservatives feel: the careless use of language when debating the level of immigration into this country has allowed racism to rear its despicable head once again.

Yet Mr Gummer backs Mrs May, who told the Tory Party conference that she hadn’t been able to deport an immigrant because of his cat. Not only was that story totally untrue, it was widely reported and it became part of the very folklore that Mr Gummer rightly deplored. On doorsteps across Ipswich, in pubs and clubs, on buses, in taxis, you will hear stories like that replayed again and again. Politicians, especially Home Secretaries and Prime Ministers, have a responsibility not to be casual with the truth. Mrs May was over immigration, and my fear is that she will be again.

It is difficult to know Mrs Leadsom’s views on the Human Rights Act or on immigration. Or anything really. We do know that, unlike Mrs May, she believes that any EU citizen currently living lawfully in the UK should be allowed to remain in the UK once we Brexit. Mrs May wishes not to give that guarantee, instead believing we should use people as bargaining chips to guarantee the rights of British citizens living in the EU – who would, of course, still be able to bring cases under EU law and ECHR law that deporting them because of a decision which they could not participate in would be a breach of their fundamental freedoms.

There have been dangerous calls for the Tory party to expedite the process in order to ensure stable Government quickly. The reason I call these dangerous is because while they stem from supporters of Mrs May (in the main) they risk the electorate backing Mrs Leadsom without any real testing of her views.

The next two months will see both ladies troop around the country, speaking to Tory associations and getting over their view of what the nation should look like. Mrs May will espouse her experience, trying gently to cover over the huge blaring gaffes like those racist go home vans, or the cat story. Mrs Leadsom will put forward, I assume, a vision of optimism about the opportunities afforded by Brexit. She will, I hope, explain where she stands on issues from Human Rights, to Welfare, to Education, to Healthcare. It is unlikely she is vastly different on most of these issues to Mrs May, but it is important that the media and the Tory Party members who get to speak to her really push her on where she stands, rather than concentrating on minutiae like her CV. After all, come September 2nd, she might be sitting down with HM The Queen and being appointed Prime Minister.

Whoever wins, the unknown or the unlikeable, it is likely that the nation will be radically different come May 2020, not just different to how it is now, but also different to how it would have been had David Cameron remained in that top job for as long as he wanted to.

Let the best woman win.

Sneering media class has sparked revolution

The sneering of the media class is in part what caused this revolution of the working classes.

No seriously. It is no surprise that those voting to “take back control” were from lower socio-economic classes. These are the same people who have had decades of being taken for granted by the Labour Party, who have been ignored and marginalised by sneering media and middle class voters who told them to like what gruel they were fed because “who else are you going to vote for?”. If you kick a dog often enough it will bite you, and working class voters have bitten back. And how.

Yet even today the sneering media class can’t help themselves. Those insulated in their Westminster middle class bubble, who don’t have to worry about the vagaries of an economy because of their middle class education and their middle class homes in middle class Islington, spent the day telling voters who backed leave that they were thick, xenophobic, racist, or wrong.

Then there are those in the “sportsman” class, who think that because they were trotted out by the media class to preach pre-written scripts to the working class about why the working class should shut up and do as they’re told and eat their gruel, they now have the right to sneer as well. We shouldn’t have had the referendum, says Welsh rugby legend Martyn Williams, because the voters aren’t intelligent enough to understand the consequences. Jamie Roberts, current Welsh rugby player says the same. England and GB Sevens player Joe Simpson suggests that voters don’t know what they’ve done. Sportsmen should stick to commentating on sport. Even Gary Lineker, who observed that Nigel Farage is still a dick.

Worse are those who pretend to be working class heroes, men and women of the people. Like Labour councillor Alasdair Ross, who sneered at the thirty-nine thousand Ipswich voters who backed leave, suggesting that the expression of democracy was a mess. Or like his Labour colleague Sandra Gage who backed the idea that Labour councillors call the will of the people a mess. These leaders of our communities, who are supposed to be from the party of working people, clearly didn’t have a clue about the majority view in the town they supposedly run.

The more the sneering continues, the more abused the working class will feel. Those having breakfast in Chantry, or in Nacton, or across this great country, do not take kindly to being called thick, being told that they don’t understand the question because they gave the “wrong” answer. If the political and media classes don’t start to listen to what they’re being told by the working classes, the revolution will sweep them all away.

Planning free for all in Suffolk Coastal

Suffolk Coastal residents are facing a planning free for all after the council failed to adequately assess the need for housing in the district, leading to an adverse decision by the planning inspectorate.

The decision, in Framlingham, says that Suffolk Coastal had no reasonable explanation for failing to publish an up to date assessment of the number of homes needed for the next five years, and therefore the planning inspector found that the council’s ability to supply enough developable land for sufficient housing was unsound. 

National planning policy requires councils to show this supply, and where they can’t any policies which seek to restrict development are given less weight in the decision making process. Another case in Suffolk Coastal, which the council is now taking to the Supreme Court, expanded the list of policies which seek to restrict development beyond merely housing policies in the council’s Local Development Framework, to include any policy which could restrict development.

Tony Fryatt, who is the Cabinet Member for Planning on the east coast authority, told the BBC Radio Suffolk breakfast programme that he wasn’t worried by the decision, as the world has changed and thousands more houses would now be needed by East Anglian devolution. While that may be true, it actually makes the situation worse, not better, and his laissez faire attitude leaves Suffolk Coastal communities completely unprotected from inappropriate development.

EU Ref: Why I’ve changed my mind…

The United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union is the question, but what should the answer be?

Three months ago I was certain. I would be voting remain. Economically it made sense, and with China heading for a recession and a shaky world economy, Britain couldn’t afford any further risks to the economy.

But as things stand I will be voting for Britain to leave the European Union on June 23rd, and the insufferable arrogance of the Remain camp has much to do with that.

The impression that the Remain camp have given me is that they hold the voters in contempt. They seem to believe that anyone pro-Brexit is either a rabid right-winger or an ignoramus. How on earth can’t the Brexiteers see the ‘right answer’? How presumptuous are they that they assume they do not need to put forward positive reasons to be members of the European Union?

I spoke to a prominent advocate for the Remain camp back in March about the way the campaign was going to be run. I stressed that the one thing that would switch voters off faster than anything would be a repeat of the Scottish referendum’s Project Fear. I was assured that the positive reasons to remain in the EU would be at the fore of the campaign, that economic and national security would be the wedge issues, aimed at women in their forties, the group who Stronger In believe will be key to the election.

Yet here we are in May, and the Prime Minister’s renegotiation from Europe has been all but forgotten. The suggestion that we could survive perfectly well outside the EU, made in November last year by the Prime Minister, is now dismissed as pure speculation by Stronger In.

Yet just because the people in the Remain camp are insufferably arrogant, that is not a good reason to vote to come out of the European Union. Unlike most people in the Vote Leave campaign, I do believe the Treasury when they say, as they will today, that there could be a recession if we vote for Brexit.

For me this decision comes down not to economics, but to a more fundamental question: what do we think of Britain. Do we think Britain is essentially a small country, without much influence in the world, unable to cope on its own? Or do we agree with the Prime Minister, when he said “I am not saying for one moment that Britain couldn’t survive outside the European Union. Of course we could.

“We are a great country. The fifth largest economy in the world. The fastest growing economy in the G7 last year. The biggest destination for foreign direct investment in the EU. Our capital city a global icon. The world, literally, speaks our language.”

When the Prime Minister said that, in his key note speech at Chatham House in November last year, I agreed with every word of that statement. Yet just six months later he appears to have repudiated every word of it. This weekend his Chancellor suggested that the economic shock from Brexit would see house prices drop by 18%; no doubt I will address the benefits of a big drop in house prices at another juncture, but for now I merely point out that such rhetoric was specifically ruled out by the PM just a few months ago. The lower they stoop in their desperation to bully the electorate into doing what they want, the more I want to vote the other way.

So what do I think of Britain? I think we’re one of the strongest countries in the world. We have a permanent seat on the Security Council of the United Nations. We’re have the fifth highest spending on the military and we’re a central plank of NATO. We’ve got the fifth largest economy on the planet. We are not Norway and we are not Switzerland. We’re Britain.

I am also a democrat. I believe that the vote I cast in the polling booth should have an impact on the laws that regulate our society. But the European Union don’t believe in democracy. The laws that emanate from Brussels are written by the European Commission. Only the Commission has legislative initiative. Only the Commission can make formal proposals for legislation. Yet the Commission bears little relationship to democratic institutions. The President of the Commission is nominated by the Council of Ministers, and approved by the European Parliament, and the Commissioners are appointed by a similar process. Each of the 28 member states has a European Commissioner.

So the laws of the European Union are written by unelected bureaucrats. But opinions vary on how many of OUR laws are written by these bureaucrats, so that’s ok, right? The Stronger In campaign claim that only a minority of UK law is written by the Commission, and that when you are a member of a club you have to play by mutually agreed laws.

The problem for me with that argument is that the European Union doesn’t quite see it like that. Where there is a conflict between a law decided upon by our democratically elected and supposedly sovereign Parliament and European Law, the European Courts of Justice, and now our own courts, insist that European Law takes precedence.

I am told that one Suffolk MP challenged a prominent Vote Leave campaigner for a single example of the law being overridden by the European Union. She wasn’t able to answer, but I can. The example is the Merchant Shipping Act 1988, which was disapplied by the European Courts of Justice in the series of cases known as Factortame.

The Merchant Shipping Act was a piece of legislation which was passed by both Houses of Parliament, and signed into law by the Queen. In a thousand years of British history, that has been sufficient to create a law. But the European bureaucracy couldn’t have that. This law was “repugnant” said the European Courts of Justice. The House of Lords ruled that European Law has precedence and disapplied an Act of Parliament.

The MPs we elect are no longer free to pass any laws demanded by the voters of Britain, because the EU will demand that any law which conflicts with European Law is merely ignored. Yet the campaigners for Stronger In insist that we have not handed over Sovereignty to the EU.

There are, of course, always other reasons to vote to leave the European Union. The Common Fisheries Policy, an abomination of a process which sees the UK quote for Irish Sea cod limited to 834 tonnes, while France gets 5,500 tonnes, has led to the devastation of an entire industry. Residents of Lowestoft tell me that they can remember when you could cross from one side of the harbour to the other by stepping from trawler to trawler. No longer.

This article here in the Spectator, a Brexit supporting publication, talks about the damage to St Ives caused by the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy. For St Ives read Lowestoft. Or any seaside town which once had a substantial fishing fleet. We once had the largest fishing fleet in Europe. We fished 80% of British territorial waters. Now we fish just 13% and a fifth of our quota is landed in Holland by just one trawler. One former fisheries minister (a solid supporter of Stronger In) once called this deal a “good deal” for our fishermen. It’s a disgrace.

It also talks about the Common Agricultural Policy and its top down imposition on farmers. This is a subject I know a little about. My first political interaction was as a precocious and irritating 8 year-old, asking then Agriculture Minister John Gummer about the CAP. While he never answered the question then, I doubt he would argue now that the CAP was a shining example of the benefits of the EU.

Farmers want to farm. They want the freedom to use their knowledge and experience to do the best for their business; to grow the crops the market wants, to grow the crops that work best on their land, but also to remain the custodians of the rural countryside. I should know, given the land around my village has been farmed by my Great Granddad, my Granddad, my Uncle and now my cousin.

But the CAP doesn’t allow farmers to farm. Despite the fact that this country is a net importer of food, the EU still pays farmers not to farm. It pays farms to grow the crops that the EU wants. It encourages the use of damaging pesticides and fertilizers, putting further pressure on our environment. It artificially inflates the price of food, which in turn contributes to obesity as fresh food and vegetables cost more than the bland processed food which are full of sugar and salt and fat. It is also morally indefensible to

The irony is that even back in 1972 everyone knew that the CAP would be a bad deal for British farmers. The experts at the IMF were very aware that CAP was designed to help French peasant farmers while penalising the British. It wasn’t in British interests then, and it isn’t in British interests now. But with 47% of the European budget dedicated to CAP, the sheer scale of subsidies dominates much of the EU’s decision making.

So there we have it. On June 23rd I will be voting leave, because of the insufferable arrogance of the Stronger In campaign; because I believe that our democratically elected MPs should write the laws that we as a society allow ourselves to be governed by; because the CFP and CAP are highly damaging socialist inventions which have destroyed communities and industries.

No doubt some who believe we should remain will want to tear this column down. I welcome that challenge. I really hope that they engage with the arguments, rather than merely engaging their headless Project Fear.