THE BLOG

Britain's New Special Relationship With Europe

21/02/2016 18:21 | Updated 21 February 2016

No leader can have done more to advance the national interest of their country in Europe than David Cameron has over the past 12 months. Following visits to the capitals of every member state, and gruelling hours of negotiation in Brussels, he has achieved what many believed was impossible. Britain now has the opportunity to create a new relationship with the European Union, giving us a special status enjoyed by no other country.

This new deal marks a clear break with the past, and real change to our membership of the EU. For the first time it is clear in law that we will never be part of economic and political union. Other countries may advance in that direction if they want to, but they can't take Britain with them, or discriminate against us if we refuse to follow. David Cameron has secured protections for the City of London making sure that Europe cannot interfere with the regulation of our financial sector. This is a vital reform, which brings power back home from Brussels, and achieves a positive change in the UK national interest that we had previously been denied.

Outside of the European open borders 'Schengen Area', we can enforce passport checks and controls. Britain will also have new powers to limit the in-work benefit payments to EU citizens coming to the country, which have made doing even low paid jobs here so attractive. 

Looking to the future, we want Britain to continue to be the jobs factory of Europe, the most attractive location for foreign direct investment, and the best place to start and grow a business. Full access to the European Single Market is vital to this, but it is also in our interest to have a voice in how it is run. We want to see the development of the Single Market in services, an area of business where we export more to Europe than we import back. There also needs to be constant pressure for deregulation that enhances greater competition. We can only work to achieve these goals as a member of the European Union. On the outside, we could have access to the European Single Market, but would have no say in how it was run.

The complexities of withdrawing from the Single Market would be enormous. For example, the world famous English shoes manufactured in Northampton are largely made from leather imported from Germany. New English wineries in Kent and Sussex rely on imported vines from Burgundy, and many Ford motor cars imported to the UK from Europe, have engines that were manufactured in Essex. Is it any wonder that businesses want the certainty of Britain remaining as a full members of the European Single Market. Some of the most future- focused businesses are also amongst its biggest supporters. In a recent survey of over 850 tech companies by TechUK, over three- quarters said they thought the UK would lose influence outside, and 71% wanted us to stay in a reformed EU.

Campaigners for Britain to leave the European Union like to pretend that there would be no risks, but the truth is that it would be a leap into the unknown, and one that could leave us all poorer. Our best future is to remain under the special terms of our reformed membership.

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