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EU: The case for quitting

todayJune 12, 2015 14

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Euroscepticism comes in two forms. One, to which UKIP belongs, is hostile to the EU in principle and takes a nationalist objection to supra-national bodies. The other, to which many Conservative and Labour MPs belong, accepts membership of the EU but want radical reform. The core issue is the drift to ‘ever closer union’ which means gradual integration towards a federal United States of Europe, which neither camp supports. The UK is not alone in this. Polls for the European Commission show 60% of EU citizens don’t trust the EU and only 31% do. Trust in the EU is lowest in the UK (16%) but only 21% trust our Government.

The nub of the case for the UK leaving the EU is in order to restore the sovereignty of Parliament. EU directives take precedence over British laws and there is nothing MPs can do to reverse measures that are not in Britain’s interest. This is exacerbated by the democratic deficit in the EU. The European Parliament has limited legislative powers and the unelected Commission is the key player unless the Council of Ministers overrules it. This is an obvious target for reformers.

Another argument for quitting is the amount we have to pay the EU. Its annual budget is in the region of 150bn euros (£117bn) to which the UK contributes approximately 14.5bn euros but receives back 4.2 euros in farm subsidies and research grants. In 2014 we were asked to make an extra contribution because our economy was growing faster than those of other member states. The Prime Minister refused and a compromise was negotiated. Critics also point to the cost of the Common Agricultural Policy which takes 45% of the EU budget.

The number of immigrants from the EU is another bone of contention. Migration Watch reports net immigration of 318,000 of whom 178,000 came from other EU member states. Eurosceptics complain that even when they come here to work they claim in-work benefits and use public services for which they have paid no contribution.

Proponents of leaving the EU argue that the UK would still be able to trade with the EU without paying for membership like Norway and Switzerland, and could decide who can come to live here, making Britain great again. The challenge is to identify what greatness means and how appropriate that objective is from a Christian perspective. What counts as greatness in the Kingdom of God?

Written by: Miriam Emenike

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