This Thursday, 23rd June, our country will have its first chance in over 40 years to vote on our membership of the European Union – promised and delivered by this Conservative Government.
This is a decision for the British people – not for politicians or media pundits – but for my part, I believe that the UK is stronger, safer and better off in the European Union. By voting to Remain, we’ll retain our access to the Single Market of 500 million people, with a say over the rules of doing business across Europe. That means more jobs, lower prices, and more financial security for British families.
In his renegotiation earlier this year, the Prime Minister worked hard to deliver a number of important concessions from other EU leaders to ensure that our relationship with the EU changes to one that better suits our needs. We will no longer be bound by a commitment to “ever closer union”, and have secured protections for our financial industry, and to help ensure the competitiveness of British businesses. Our special status gives us the best of both worlds – in the parts of Europe that work for us, out of the parts that don’t.
From my experience as a Minister, many issues facing the modern world, from the refugee crisis to welfare tourism, from defence exports to international aid, and from food security to national security, require a coordinated international response. The complexity of these matters in a global age means we must cooperate with other countries, and cannot realistically solve them completely on our own.
The UK plays an important role in the world – we are a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a leading member of NATO, and a leading contributor to international aid and peacekeeping efforts across the planet. Our actions on the international stage – keeping people both home and abroad safe – are helped, not hindered, by our membership of the EU.
I know that some are concerned about the effect of EU decisions on our national sovereignty. However, the very fact that we are having this referendum shows that ultimately it is the British people, and not Brussels, that decides where our future lies.
The UK could, of course, survive outside the EU, but why simply aim to survive? We are stronger, safer and better off remaining in the EU.