MP’s Column - We need to change EU

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The result of the European elections gives even further impetus to our drive to change our relationship with the European Union.

It is obvious that voters are animated about Europe but they feel they are struggling to have their voices heard. Readers doubtless know that I am an opponent of all Euro-centralisation and my speeches in the House of Commons as well as my voting record attest to that.

But even more than stopping the loss of any further powers, we need to win back powers that have already been ceded to Brussels.

This Government have made significant progress in putting the country back on track in many ways, especially with regard to the economy.

Instead of headline grabbing measures, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has been making a great many difficult decisions which have provided the foundations for a stable recovery. I have been vocal that there is more to be done.

The simplification of our tax system is one of the most important tasks which needs to be accomplished.

Our massive tax code places an undue burden on small- and medium-sized businesses, and prejudices the entire business tax culture in favour of large companies that can afford to hire entire departments to find the best deal.

But as you will have found when looking at your own accounts, the tax system also has a great influence on the lives of families and individuals.

When the higher rate of taxation was introduced, it was meant to apply to the very few.

Today, however, greater and greater swathes of the population are falling victim to it. These often include experienced nurses, senior teachers, and even police sergeants.

Raising the threshold for the higher tax rate would liberate these hard-working people and free up hard-earned salaries to go into savings, to pay off debts, or to be invested in the wider economy.

All of those outcomes would be good for the country and good for the economy. We have at least managed to secure a marriage tax allowance to lessen the burden on married couples who for too long have been unduly punished by over-taxation.

With everything we want to achieve, the fact we Conservative MPs must rely on the Liberal Democrats to get any legislation passed has had a debilitating effect on our ability to govern as we would like.

I have already called upon the Coalition to be dissolved. The Government should be free to pursue the course of action the country needs.

If Liberals vote it down, then they will out themselves and show voters where they truly stand.

On the economy, on wind farms, and most of all on Europe they depart widely from the well-considered views of most Britons.

In the run-up to the next general election, voters must remind themselves that only one party – the Conservatives – stands openly and proudly committed to renegotiation our EU membership and then putting it to voters with an in/out referendum and is capable of achieving it.

Sir Edward Leigh

MP for Gainsborough