Let's leave EU bus and climb on the global jet
The campaign to remain in the European Union believes in the adage of US President Harry S Truman: 'If you can't convince them, confuse them.' But if the EU was the future once, it isn't any more, writes Lee Reynolds.
On June 23, the people of Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom as a whole face a truly momentous decision. It is a decision about our future. This is what the debate should be about - what will provide the best future in 10, 20, 30 years from now in a fast-changing world?
The Britain Stronger in Europe (BSE) campaign see it differently. They don't want to discuss the present realities of the European Union (EU) - even less the future of the European Union.
They want to confuse. They want to scare. They want to browbeat. Why is this?
The BSE campaign have adopted an adage of an American president; not Obama's false threat of "back of the queue", but President Truman's adage of "If you can't convince them, confuse them". With an EU in perpetual crisis and decline, they want to talk about anything else but the EU.
The next aim of their strategy is to wheel out the great and good. They know best. Only they understand how the world works. The "confused" voters should just listen to them and do as they are told.
These are the same great and good who benefit from the present order. The same who have done well from EU grants and enjoy the wining and dining in Brussels.
Never mind these are the same great and good who never saw the largest economic collapse of our lifetime coming and have been largely protected from its effects. Their "expertise" is supposedly infallible.
The Vote Leave campaign doesn't want to confuse you, scare you, or browbeat you.
What we want to do is show you how leaving means more, means better and means positive. Instead, we will present the facts about the EU as it is today, where it intends to go and the alternative.
In financial terms, the UK gives more to the European Union than it receives in return. The fact is, the gap between what we pay in and get out has quadrupled in the last four years - even with our rebate.
The fact is, our gross contributions are double what we receive back. So when someone talks about European money, they are being misleading. The fact is, it is our money.
Even in an area like the Common Agricultural Policy, the UK contributes £4.6bn every year. We only receive £2.9bn. After we vote leave, we can still provide the same level of support to our farmers ... and save £1.7bn.
But this is our entry fee to a market of 500 million people; does that not make it worth it? The fact is, the UK has a massive trade deficit with the European Union. The fact is, when we joined, EU countries accounted for a third of the world market; it is now one-fifth of it. The fact is, both Northern Ireland and United Kingdom exports to the EU are in decline, while our exports to the rest of the world are growing. The fact is, it comes with the costs of over-regulation and bureaucracy. The fact is, we are paying a larger entry fee to a shrinking market that is buying less of what we produce.
The EU is trapped in a number of crises of its own making. If you want to see the real face of the EU, see how it has dealt with the eurozone and immigration crises. They claim solidarity as their value, but look how they act.
Where was the solidarity for the people of Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal, or even Ireland, when the euro had to be saved? While every country suffered in the downturn, more of their services, more of their jobs and more of their homes were to be sacrificed - all for the EU project. Worse is, despite all this pain, the eurozone crisis isn't over.
With the immigration crisis, unprecedented numbers of people came into the EU. Solidarity collapsed and member states began competing over how much border fence they could put up. The EU couldn't hold together its two biggest policy goals of a common currency and open borders.
It can't decide on a single place for its parliament to meet. It can't get its own accounts signed off, year after year. It goes on and on.
When you see all this, ask yourself, if we weren't a member, would you want to join? If you wouldn't want to join, then why would you stay?
Surely, reform would be the solution to this? The UK has been a member for more than 40 years. The fact is, we haven't gained the necessary reforms. The Cameron negotiation was the perfect opportunity to reform. The fact is the EU refused. If we vote remain, the EU will not consider it as a call for reform, but full steam ahead.
And where is the EU going? The Five Presidents report shows that it wants to go where it has told us time and time again. The EU elite wishes to create a new supranational state. They clearly say this supranational state is the responsibility of all members of the EU to facilitate. This is what you agree to if you vote for the BSE campaign.
Our alternative is to have a new relationship with the European Union. Impossible, BSE will shout. Yet Iceland does. Yet Norway does. Yet Switzerland does. Yet Turkey does. Yet Greenland does. Yet Canada is finalising its agreement.
Each has its own relationship, making a British relationship not only possible, but the better option. The UK is much larger and more important to the EU economy than they are.
This new relationship would recognise the economic integration and relationship between the UK and Republic of Ireland and thus protect the Common Travel Area.
This new relationship would have five key benefits:
• When we vote Leave, we take control of our money to spend on our priorities, like health, £350m a week more. The Barnett formula, which strongly benefits Northern Ireland, would see that extra public spending spread across the UK and increases in pensions and other benefits would automatically be received here.
• When we vote Leave, we take control over our laws. It will be our politicians alone who make our laws again and we can punish those who fail.
• When we vote Leave, we would take control of our immigration system. We can build a more humane system, based on the skills we need.
• When we vote Leave, we take control of our trade with the world. We regain our position on global trade organisations and are free to make agreements which suit the UK, not 27 other countries. Will our trade with the EU carry on? To quote the BSE's chief cheerleader, David Cameron, "Of course we would".
• When we vote Leave, all of these combine to make it the safer choice for the future, as we are in greater control of our future.
The world has moved on from the thinking that created the EU, even if they don't realise it. It may have been the future once, but it isn't any more.
As the fifth-largest economy in the world, a member of G7 and G20, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, we can go out into the world with confidence.
To do so, we must step off the spluttering and clunking EU bus and climb aboard the global jet.
On June 23, choose more, choose better, choose positive. Vote Leave.
- Lee Reynolds is regional director of NI Vote Leave