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Have a say on Britain's relationship with Europe
Over the past week or so the debate about Britain’s relationship with the European Union has returned once again to the front pages of many national newspapers. In my view, this divisive issue will continue to act as a distraction until the British people have an opportunity to express a firm view on the matter.
There are those who claim that questioning our relationship with Europe is irrelevant, but let’s be very clear – the EU is going to change dramatically as a result of the ongoing Eurozone crisis. As a result of such upheaval, it is likely that Europe will have to become even more integrated on a whole range of financial, political and social levels. Thus, it is the perfect time for the people of this country to have a say through a simple yet profound referendum.
After all, those under the age of 53 have yet to exercise a direct vote on our relationship with the EU and it has transformed beyond comprehension since 1975. Indeed, only a decade ago the political classes with their vested interests almost drove us into adopting the eurozone as our currency! Now we see the Eurozone being pulled down by debt as the differing economies of northern and southern European nations simply fail to co-exist within the same currency.
When the House of Commons discussed the matter last year I voted in favour of a referendum, and as the debate continues to rumble on, it's high time to drop the “politicians know best” attitude and give the people a vote. More than 50 countries have a simple trading connection with Europe without joining the EU or Eurozone – that would be my idea of a re-balanced relationship.
One of the key problems with politics at the moment is the lack of trust that the public has in their elected representatives, and it is easy to see why. Too many politicians are too scripted and as a result seemingly unable to answer simple questions honestly or openly. As such I am pleased to be offering constituents in York Outer the opportunity to come and quiz me at an open Q&A session on Saturday, July 14, at the Oaken Grove Community Centre in Haxby, between 10am and noon. Anyone can turn up and ask a question, whether it be about local or national politics, and I shall do my best to answer as openly and honestly as possibly!
As many readers will know, I have been part of the campaign to save the children’s heart unit at Leeds Infirmary Hospital over a number of months. On Wednesday evening the lengthy battle finally came to a close and like so many affected children and parents, I am devastated with the outcome which will see the Leeds unit close.
The wide-ranging review was quite rightly launched amid fears that expertise was being spread too thinly among the existing sites thus undermining safety of children. However, there were always compelling clinical and geographical reasons behind keeping the Leeds facility open and operational. Those who work within the unit carry out life saving treatment each and every day and many Yorkshire children owe their lives and well-being to the facilities offered in Leeds. The campaign's petition fetched over 38,000 signatures illustrating the overwhelming backing of local people who united behind the cause.
The decision to remove the services at the Leeds site is terrible news for all affected children and their families who will now have to travel many miles for surgical procedures. Indeed, I would like to send my heartfelt sympathies to all of those involved with the campaign – in my view, the wrong decision was made and if possible I shall continue to fight against it.
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