By Struan Stevenson
David Coburn MEP, UKIP’s leader in Scotland, could have an alternative career as a stand-up-comic. His latest joke, on one of his rare visits north of the border, was to claim that if we vote to stay in the EU in the June Brexit referendum, Nigel Farage will be our next Prime Minister. His ludicrous assertion is that there will be such an overwhelming majority of disappointed Eurosceptic Brits that they will sweep UKIP to power and propel the bold Nigel into No.10. A more unlikely scenario would be hard to imagine, but Coburn claims that following a vote to stay, the EU will unleash all of “the mad grannies in the attic” to wreak their revenge on the constantly carping UK. Apart from being a tad disrespectful to distressed grandmothers, this claim really exposes UKIP’s fear that we are heading for a vote to stay in the EU, which will effectively finish off UKIP by extinguishing the very reason for their existence. Far from heading to No.10, Nigel Farage will be heading to the scrap heap. Hopefully there will be room in his wheely bin for David Coburn and his other UKIP pals too.
UKIPs fears that Brexit will fail are well founded. I am certain that the majority of Brits and certainly the majority of Scots understand that separating from the EU would not only damage the UK, but would damage the EU as a whole. The majority realise that in the modern, globalized world, we are better working together in the EU, than trying to go it alone. No-one country can ever match the might of the US or China, or indeed the growing expansionist threat from Russia, but our place as a leading member of a community which now numbers 28 Member States and over 510 million people, gives us a powerful voice in world affairs. Europe is stronger because of our membership and Britain is stronger by being a key EU member.
Of course nobody can claim that the EU doesn’t have problems or wouldn’t benefit from reform. Growth is too low, unemployment is too high; there are major problems of migration and security. If we are to build a safe and prosperous Europe for our children and grandchildren then these problems will have to be solved. But surely such issues can be tackled more effectively when we work together rather than when we try to strike out on our own? That’s why I am convinced that the reforms, which David Cameron achieved, are a major step forward, resolving once and for all our fear that Britain could somehow be dragged into the ‘ever closer union’ of a European super-state, forced to bail out the Eurozone or to suffer discriminatory regulation against our burgeoning financial services sector. Cameron has won unanimous agreement that British interests will be secured on all of these issues.
We want to be part of a flexible and prosperous single market that gives British goods and services access to over 510 million EU citizens, creating jobs and economic growth. We don’t want to be part of a restrictive, bureaucratic, one-size-fits-all, centrally controlled EU super-state, where sovereignty is leached to Brussels and where the euro-elite and Berlin call the shots. Cameron has achieved this distinctive recognition for Britain. We will never again be required to be part of the process of ever closer union.
Britain has also found unanimous support for a demand for cuts to the massive, overwhelming avalanche of red tape that ties the hands of business and industry and makes us less competitive. The CBI says that 70% of the rules and regulations affecting British business and industry now emanate from Brussels. This needs to be slashed dramatically without delay and Cameron has achieved a pledge that this will now happen.
There is an old African proverb: “You travel faster alone, but further together.” We should remember that when we listen to the daft ramblings from UKIP and their Brexit mates.
These are the personal views of former MEP Struan Stevenson, who was a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014