British people should have say on EU membership

Crawley MP Henry Smith's latest column
Crawley MP Henry Smith's latest column

The British people should have a say on our future membership of the EU.

In the early 1970s, when I was a few years old we joined a Common Market free trade area – but under the ‘ever closer union’ clause in the Treaty of Rome the modern-day EU has turned into a more centralising political unit.

There is plenty of academic discussion on the EU’s ‘democratic deficit’ – how us, the people, do not have any real say in the running of the organisation.

I know that there are many people who do not want a referendum because they want us to stay in. But why not have the courage of your convictions and take the chance to put your case to the British people? Similar to how the Prime Minister accepted it was time for a referendum on independence for Scotland following the election of a majority SNP government in the Scottish Parliament.

I cannot see how Ed Miliband can claim to be listening to people in Crawley and around the country, whilst Labour stick with their policy of denying us a vote on the EU. It would be deeply concerning if Ed Miliband was just looking not to upset the SNP, as he continues to rule out allowing the Scottish National Party into a future UK government.

Independent polling of British business has shown that two thirds of companies actually support the holding of an in/out UK/EU referendum. Great Britain’s strength could be as a bridge between our unique global links through the Commonwealth and our proximity to the continent.

I have consistently voted in the House of Commons in favour of a referendum, and will continue to do so if I am given the honour of being re-elected as Member of Parliament for Crawley at the General Election.

Next week, I look forward to presenting my Crawley English Votes for English Laws petition to the House of Commons.

Some may ask what the relevance of a petition on this issue has to do with our town.

If I am in a majority of MPs voting in a particular way on an issue concerning education or health, for example, then you would expect the vote to count, and to become law.

However, education and health matters in Scotland are devolved to the Scottish Parliament, but Scottish MPs in Westminster can still vote on what happens in England – even though their constituents are represented in the Scottish Parliament on the matter.

I do not want decisions affecting services in Crawley to be made in this way.

I am standing for re-election to make Crawley a better place, England more democratic and a vote on the EU – we cannot allow constitutional anomalies to prevent the progress of our town or country.