From Leigh to You - Debating our relationship with Europe

Edward Leigh MP
Edward Leigh MP

This country’s relationship with the rest of Europe is something which concerns us all.

So many aspects of life in Lincolnshire and the rest of England are determined by factors set in the bureaucratic corridors of Brussels.

While we seek every possible form of cooperation with our friends on the continent, we tend to do things a little differently here in Britain.

Through the richness of an imperial legacy, we enjoy strong and deep links with many countries across the seas, from the open vastness of Canada and Australia to the smaller but none the less vibrant island countries of the Caribbean such as Jamaica and the Bahamas, without of course forgetting the great economic engine that is the USA, with whom we share many common values.

Constituents have written to me suggesting Britain turns away from Europe and looks towards the great family of nations we have in the Commonwealth, and to our traditional friendship with the USA, and one of our largest trading partners the Republic of Ireland.

The Government should indeed be doing more to strengthen our links with these countries, ensuring that British firms, farms, and companies have the best possible access to these markets.

I think most people in the Gainsborough constituency will agree that we have become too closely integrated with Europe in a political way, beyond comfort or appropriateness, and we can fail to see the economic integration that has been to our advantage.

Here in Lincolnshire, ECO Plastics – the largest plastic bottle recycler in Europe – expanded its Hemswell operations with Coca-Cola, one of the most recognisable worldwide brands.

We are intricately linked to the global economy, but that doesn’t mean we should surrender our freedom to rule ourselves.

For several centuries, Britons have fought to maintain our sovereign independence from a variety of foreign foes.

From the days of the Spanish Armada, through the threat of Napoleon, and the fight against Hitler, Britons have made great sacrifices so that we are in control of our own destiny, enjoying freedom under the protection of the Crown.

We need to reclaim a great many powers that have been ceded to Brussels, so we can feel secure and free to live and run our country in the way that we see fit.

I firmly believe a better deal is possible so we can prosper alongside our European neighbours, but also with our friends across the seas.