Leader of Portsmouth City Council - why I’m campaigning to leave the EU

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council
Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council
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THE leader of Portsmouth City Council is the latest high profile figure to sign up to the growing EU Brexit campaign.

In a lengthy statement to The News, Tory Councillor Donna Jones gives her thoughts as to why Britain must leave the European Union.

Portsmouth MPs Flick Drummond and Penny Mordaunt have already set out their positions.

Cllr Jones writes:

‘The date has been set for the one of the biggest votes in over a 100 years in Britain. The decisions taken by parliament to go to war in the last century were important and protected the UK. The referendum vote on Britain’s membership of the European Union is arguably the most important in a generation.

The last time there was a vote in the UK on our membership of the EU was in 1975, a referendum was held, shortly after we had joined the EU, or the Common Market as it was then called.

The country voted to stay in. Over the last 40 years, there have been growing calls for another vote, mostly due to fact the EU has changed so much, more countries joining and the organisation extending its control over more aspects of daily lives. A European currency has been established and the strength of the European parliament is beyond any recognition of the EU established 40 years ago.

‘I fully support the principle of a single market for trading, (imports and exports). The strength of British business and our competitiveness not just in Europe but around the word, is something I am acutely aware of, especially when leading a city with an international reputation,

such as Portsmouth and the solent being the UK lead for the marine and maritime industry.

‘However, we must recognize that Britain will always be a country in Europe. Europe is different to the European Union and the constraints that come with it mean we must seriously consider the alternatives of a Britain outside of the EU. To decide whether membership of the EU is right for the UK we need to understand how it effects our day to day lives and the costs we pay for the membership we hold.

The European Union is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries allowing goods and people to move around freely, as if the member states were one country. Through its own parliament it now sets rules on a wide range of areas - including on the environment, transport, consumer rights and even things like mobile phone charges.

This was not what Britain signed up for. As the Leader of Portsmouth City Council, and one of the biggest employers in the city with over 8,000 staff including schools, I have experienced first hand the costs of the over bearing legislation of the EU. It also extends to businesses we own such as the International Ferry Port, and the effects the EU have had on Sulphur emissions to the ferry companies sailing from

Portsmouth. Before deciding my position on whether to join the campaign to Remain or to Leave, I have spoken to a number of people across the city. My reasons for wanting to leave the EU are centred around 3 main areas.

1. I want Britain to have control of its own boarders again. The free movement of people around Europe has been disproportionate towards to UK due to our sophisticated benefits system. Whist the Prime Minister has managed to achieve some ‘brakes’ on the level and length of time an immigrant can claim benefits in the UK, we have not yet reached a position in my mind that would convince me to vote to stay. The strength of our benefit system, even after the changes, will still mean immigrants will disproportionately move around Europe to the UK to settle here.

2. I want Britain to be able to set its own laws, all of them without fear of judges in Europe ruling them out of order and meaning our judiciary and Parliament are in some cases overruled.

3. I want judges in the UK to be able to decide if they think it is legal and right to be able to deport international terrorists like Abu Hamza, and not have legal challenges spanning 10 years meaning he was living protected and paid for by the British people. This is wrong and it has to stop. We have heard from the Remain campaign that we are “safer and stronger remaining in the EU”. The safety that Britain has around the world comes from our membership of NATO and United Nations, not directly from Europe. When the EU was set up after the second world war, it was undoubtedly to create stability in Europe and to reduce the risk of countries in Europe invading each other. That risk is no longer present, and our international strength comes from the organisations I have mentioned.

‘Finally, around competitiveness we are told that British business will be disadvantaged if we leave the EU due to levies and trading taxes that could be imposed. I simply do not buy this. Britain buys more from Europe than we sell to it. Because of this fact it would be senseless of the EU to impose a 5% tax on purchases as it would effect business in the EU more then British businesses. We will reach a trading agreement with the EU if we vote to leave and added to the money that will be saved in the EU membership fee, the UK will most certainly be better off OUT of the EU.

This will be the first time in my life I will have had the opportunity to vote on one of the biggest issues facing Britain in the 21st Century and I will be voting for Britain to LEAVE the European Union.’