JULY

A Quiet Week? No Chance!

I expected this week to be something of an anti-climax after a weekend in which David Cameron has seemingly accepted that the demand for a referendum on Britain's continued membership of the EU is growing.
 
On my way to Strasbourg this week I was interviewed on the BBC news about our petition for a referendum on withdrawal from the EU. These are exiting times, and we must keep up the pressure on the government.
 
I dismissed Cameron's faux promise as blatant populism and called on him to show strong leadership and call an in/out referendum sooner rather than later.
 
However, this has been a week in which we have seen Commission President Barroso launch a unprecedented and scathing attack on British MEPs.
 
This was in order to turn attention in the debate away from the ever growing woes of the Eurozone.
 
It seems that when things go wrong, the political elite like to identify a scapegoat to pin the blame on anyone else - Barroso is not the first European politician to play that game, as we all know.

 

Questions to the President of Cyprus.

We were addressed by President Dimitris Christofias of Cyprus, whose country is taking over the rotating 6 month Presidency of the EU.  He is the first ever Communist head of state in the EU   I asked him how he can reconcile his strongly held ideology with the austerity measures now being forced upon millions of European workers by the European Union. I reminded him of some graffiti in Athens which said "Refuse to live as slaves"
 
I also suggested that as Turkey is refusing to recognise or communicate with the Cypriot council presidency, perhaps now would be the right moment to put an end to Turkish aspirations to join the EU, as they have again proven themselves incapable of engaging in an appropriate manner.
 
Britain again came under fire, this time from a Cypriot MEP, Ioannis Kasoulides, who criticised the presence of British bases on Cyprus and accused Britain of being colonist and responsible for the problem.
 
I pointed out to him that without the presence of those bases, Turkish forces could have advanced much further in 1974. I will not allow any criticism of our armed forces to go unchallenged.

 

ACTA - Put to the Sword!

Then it was the turn of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement - know as ACTA - to take centre stage.
 
ACTA has attracted a great deal of criticism because of the involvement of big business, and because of secret negotiations held by the European Commission behind closed doors. ACTA has been rejected by no less than 5 parliamentary committees, and this week it came before the full parliament. Opposition has been fierce and vocal across Europe, and I have had more phone calls, letters, and e-mails from constituents over this than any other subject. ACTA would have a number of undesirable consequences, ranging from restricted internet access to denial of affordable medicines to people living in developing nations. All this in the name of big business interests.
 
There was a last minute attempt to save ACTA by referring it back to yet another committee. I have to tell you that the British Conservatives backed this attempt.
 
However, the day was won and ACTA was put to the sword by an overwhelming vote.
 
A spokesman for the Commission immediately announced that they would continue to try to force ACTA upon us. They have a funny idea of what democracy means.

 

CAP Reform - A Hot Potato.

A very hot topic in the UK, and certainly in my region, the West Midlands, is reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. In this area I tend to take advice from the National Farmer's Union, as well as from individual farmers.
 
At the Three Counties Show recently I met literally hundreds of farmers, and their comments were foremost in my mind when it came to voting this week on matters to do with CAP reform. My team have also been at the Sheep Show this week, and have been inundated by farmers wanting to raise matters concerning CAP, and the EU in general.

 

Billions Sitting Idle.

Finally, the British Government has raised concerns over the billions of Euros that sit unused in the EU's bank accounts. This is very often money allocated for projects that never actually happened. There is no legal mechanism whereby these funds can be released.
 
There has been a Commission proposal to return at least some of this money to member states; however a report calling for unspent funds to be put into the EU's budget was passed by MEPs on Thursday. Again, I have to tell you that this report was supported by the British Conservatives.
 
I shall continue to vote, in committee and in plenary, against all further transfer of sovereignty to the EU. I will vote for the repatriation of powers, and funds, to the UK. And with your help I will continue to fight for the referendum that we deserve.



Campaign For A Referendum NEW Petition

We achieved our first goal of collecting 120,000+ signatures gaining the debate in Parliament we wanted on 24th October 2011. To keep the pressure on the government, we started a NEW petition on 31st October 2011. The aim is to collect as many signatures as we can in 12 months. Please register your signature on the link below even if you signed the previous petition.

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