I'm not saying that leaving will mean that the UK becomes some kind of utopian nation overnight. But as long as faceless foreign bureaucrats with their self-appointed six-figure salaries have a say in how our country is run, I cannot have confidence that we can achieve our full potential as a nation.
Tyrannical and thoroughly disagreeable though he is, Mr Putin stands for nationalistic pride, a crucial buffer against the perils of American foreign policy and a determination to defend a revived Russia on the world stage, and her citizens abroad. Three things I respect, and three things a shrinking world desperately needs.
The notion of 'Brexit' is no longer the sole domain of Tory Eurosceptics and UKIPpers. There are many compelling left-wing arguments for leaving the European Union; the EU's perceived obsession with free trade, potentially to the detriment of environmental safeguards and workers' rights; its exasperating tendency to shoot itself in the foot through opaque decision-making combined with some appalling PR. The EU can indeed be its own worst enemy.
In concluding, I hand over to my colleagues here, careful and very cherished support for the great public institutions I have spoken about which are part of the warp and the weft of this country's whole being and who texture and quality. And I ask them to think very hard before allowing the United Kingdom to withdraw from what I believe to be its major duty to the world, which is the one it will encounter and then deliver through the European Union.
With the referendum imminent, there are countless questions yet to be answered. However, with time running it will be crucial for the British public to receive enough information, which does not yet seem to be happening. The cards are in Cameron's hands, but it is whether or not he will leave enough time for campaigning which is the real question.
If 2015 was the EU's annus horribilis, 2016 is in danger of becoming the annus terribilis. The situation in the Middle East cannot be controlled, but our response can be. If we go back to another year of grand gestures on one side, and inaction on the other, the EU will continue to be paralysed in the face of its greatest challenge yet. It can reduce the impact of this crisis by focusing on what works, and on policies that are tough but fair for those people and those countries that play by the rules.
Europe is facing an obesity crisis of epidemic proportions, one that threatens to overwhelm the EU's already struggling economies and place a tremendous burden on its healthcare systems. Data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicates that the proportion of those who are overweight or obese will rise substantially in the EU over the next decade if the issue is not tackled.