THE BLOG

Why I Protested David Cameron's CBI Speech

10/11/2015 09:08 GMT | Updated 10/11/2016 10:12 GMT

The UK's membership of the European Union is a subject that I have felt passionate about for a number of years. It is an issue that affects everyone's life on a day-to-day basis, and the upcoming referendum is an important moment for the people of Britain to have their say on the future of our country.

Today, David Cameron is publishing his list of demands which will form the basis of his renegotiation. However it is clear that these will fall well short of the 'fundamental change' that he promised nearly three years ago. Even though I supported David Cameron in his attempt to renegotiate the terms of Britain's membership of the EU, I was never confident that he could achieve anything, due to the combined willpower of the bureaucrats in Brussels, as well as other EU national leaders. Over the past few months, it has indeed become increasingly clear that this won't happen.

Like many of my friends in Students for Britain, I have been keeping a close eye on the progress of the Prime Minister's renegotiation. It seems that every week Mr Cameron comes across a stumbling block which results in his reform package being watered down even further.

This must be extremely frustrating for the Prime Minister, but personally I find it disheartening. The UK needs to take back control from Brussels, but the EU is unwilling to return any meaningful powers back to member states. We can do much better than this, and it was for that reason I decided to protest at the CBI conference.

It's fair to say that yesterday was one of the more eventful Monday mornings I've ever had. As CBI boss John Cridland began his speech, I had to stop myself laughing and shaking as I was so nervous. I've never been in a room full of so many prominent business people, let alone stood up in front of the Prime Minister.

When the time came to hold up our banner, it all happened so quickly. My friend, Peter, signalled that it was time to get up, and I thought 'right, this is happening now'. I was barely able to shout out to begin with, but I soon found my voice. I think it was about 30 seconds before security got to us, so I hope that was enough time to get our message across.

Although we interrupted his speech, I thought that David Cameron's reaction was brilliant. I'm sure it's not the first time that he's had to deal with demonstrators, but I hope he realised that our protest was not aimed at him, but rather the CBI.

The CBI has been misrepresenting businesses on the EU for a number of years. It is only interested in speaking up for big businesses which have powerful lobbying arms in Brussels. It forgets about small businesses which are affected by onerous rules and regulations, but don't have the time nor money to have their say.

I am proud of what Peter and myself did yesterday. The referendum is the most important political decision of a generation. The debate shouldn't be dominated by what it means for big businesses. It should be about what it means for the people of the UK, and how we make this country better. I will keep on making my voice heard, and I would encourage you to do the same.