Britain's role in Europe divides the nation. Here, two Parliamentary candidates ask...Should we stay or go?

STAY says Jeremy Wilcock

THE Liberal Democrats, and our predecessor the Liberal Party, have always been committed to the European vision. We believe that the European Union has a fundamental role in guaranteeing peace, prosperity and freedom in Europe, and that by promoting enterprise, protecting the environment, and fighting discrimination, the EU brings enormous benefits to Britain.

Since first travelling across Europe as a child, I have always been attracted by the proximity of so many diverse and appealing cultures. Having gone on to study modern languages at university, and having lived in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Spain, I have no difficulty in accepting people in these countries as my fellow citizens.

We have so much to offer one another, and should not hide behind artificial frontiers or petty restrictions. Free movement of people and goods within open borders is something I wish to encourage. For the same reason I believe in the economic logic of a single currency.

But I am not a starry-eyed worshipper of the EU as currently operated. I believe the EU needs fundamental reform to make it more democratic and accountable, and to return the initiative from bureaucrats to the member Governments.

We need a European Constitution which defines and limits the powers of the EU. We need to ensure that the European Commission and the Council of Ministers are accountable to the directly-elected Parliament. We need to cut out some of the ludicrous wastage that political compromise generates - for instance, there must be an end to the monthly "travelling circus" of filing cabinets between Strasbourg, Brussels and Luxembourg.

There should be only two official languages - English and one other, so that the huge cost of translation can be saved. The Common Agricultural Policy should be reformed to focus on rural development rather than subsidised production.

Unlike the Euro-sceptics, I do not want Britain to stand on the sidelines and harangue Europe like a hoary old tramp swearing at the traffic. If Britain has not yet got the best out of Europe, it is because for much of the time our behaviour has been grudging, half-hearted and uncommitted.

To make Europe work for Britain, we have to be enthusiastic, and to play a full part in leading reform and progress from within. As a willing and co-operative partner, we have much to gain.

The Europe I seek is not a Federal Super State, and certainly not a Super Power. What I seek is a Super Society, a community of communities, diverse and dynamic, where the highest standards of social justice prevail, where we lead the world in progressive environmental action, and where we set an example in helping other parts of the world less prosperous than ourselves.

We can also use our joint economic power as a force for good by discriminating against governments who oppress their own communities and who abuse their citizens' human rights.

Our modern civilisation was born out of Europe - it is time the Old World set the standard once more. Britain has an honourable record in promoting democracy and decent standards, and can lead the way in Europe.

Jeremy Wilcock is the Liberal Democrat candidate for Selby

GO says Stephen Feaster

THE nightmare scenario of being in the European Union and being ruined by the EU is taking place now. We don't have to wait until Tony Blair and his Labour Government have collaborated with the bureaucrats of Brussels to destroy the last symbol of Britain as a nation: the pound.

The EU's Common Fisheries Policy, supported by successive Conservative and Labour governments, has destroyed our fishing industry.

Now the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, which prevents vaccination, is ensuring that not only our animals, but also our farmers, are being culled on the medieval funeral pyres of killing and burning.

VAT on all our heating bills can not be removed whilst we remain in the EU.

There will be VAT on food, children's clothing, books and new houses, but no doubt it will be brought in by stealth and portrayed as good for us.

The nightmare will get worse as the EU creates a communist police superstate. The Europol police force will have frightening powers of arrest and detention, for up to six months or more.

They will also be given diplomatic immunity, protecting them from prosecution for wrongful arrest, brutality or corruption, whilst this is rightly denied to our own police.

Everybody who lives in the UK and visits here in whatever capacity must be subjected to and equal in the eyes of our law. Our system of common law, where you are innocent until proven guilty, is being eroded and replaced by the continental "Corpus Juris", whereby if you are accused of wrongdoing you will have to prove your innocence.

The formation of the embryonic EU army, the "Rapid Reaction Force", will precipitate the end of NATO. This will have catastrophic repercussions on world peace and stability.

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy defies logic. Unemployment on the continent is twice as high as ours, yet he says our entry into the Euro would be good for British jobs.

Even if membership could be economically beneficial, which in reality could not be further from the truth, it is fundamentally wrong.

"That any nation gives up its freedom in pursuit of economic advantage deserves to lose both" - Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826).

Everybody I meet grumbles about the vast amount of money our government wasted on the Millennium Dome, saying it would have been far better spent on people desperate for life saving operations.

But as the other three parties are basically in favour of the EU, the true cost of our membership is never mentioned. It costs the staggering equivalent of a Dome every three weeks, 17 Domes a year, every year we are in the EU.

Have Blair & Co such short memories that they have forgotten when we tried fixing our currency, the forerunner to the Euro, in the ERM?

Thousands and thousands lost their homes and businesses. Tony Blair saying it is patriotic to hand over the running of the United Kingdom to foreign unelected bureaucrats is a disgrace and insult to the memory of the millions who fought and died so that we and future generations could live in a free, independent country.

Stephen Feaster is the United Kingdom Independence Party candidate for Ryedale

Updated: 10:48 Thursday, May 31, 2001