LETTER: We will have an EU vote

MP column

The most important aspect of Parliament is ensuring that the people of this country have a say in the way we are governed.

Our parliamentary democracy has evolved over the centuries and it took a very long time before the rights we now enjoy were put on a firm foundation.

Despite this, many people in Lincolnshire have written to me to express their sense of alienation from the way this country is governed at the moment.

Whether the subject is wind-farms, same-sex civil marriage, or immigration, I get the impression that many people are not just fed up but disenchanted and feel that their voice doesn’t matter anymore.

In Westminster, I – and many of my like-minded colleagues – have been working hard to make sure your voice is heard.

We have supported the Government on every issue where they have taken the responsible decisions to try and bring down the deficit and put the economy back on track.

But we have also been a thorn in the side of 
the Government front bench when we believe they need a bit of encouragement to heed the calls of ordinary Britons and the issues they consider important.

On Europe, our pressure is bearing fruit. We now have a very strong chance of obtaining a referendum on Britain’s relationship with the European Union.

The last time voters were directly consulted on the European issue was in 1975: a great number of my constituents weren’t even born then.

The nature of the European project has changed immensely since the Treaty of Rome in 1950.

It’s changed since we agreed to join what we then called the Common Market in 1975.

Our membership in the European Union now affects so much of our everyday lives, whether we are farmers, parents, consumers, employees, business owners, or anything else.

We need to renegotiate with Europe and get the best possible deal for Great Britain out of our membership of the European Union.

But if Europe isn’t willing to come to a compromise, we need to be prepared to say “no”.

The Prime Minister has now committed to an in/out referendum by the end of 2017. I’ve had my disagreements with the Prime Minister – I’m sure you have too.

But as I said in the House of Commons the other day, I believe that the Prime Minister is a gentleman and a man of honour.

If he is still in Number 10 come 2017, we will have a referendum and every voter will have the opportunity of being heard.

Rest assured, we are continuing the fight on other important matters as well.

Applications for wind farms, for example, are mushrooming and I 
encourage every local person to make sure they write to their councillors to make sure their opposition to 
this unsightly plague is registered with those who decide the fate of planning applications.

History has proved time and again that when Britons come together, we can achieve great things, and we are not about to give up now.

Edward Leigh

MP for Gainsborough