Thursday, 19 February 2015

Britain and the EU

The issue of Britain's relationship with the EU was what first drove me into politics. I stood as a UKIP candidate in 1999 and was then Campaign Director of the successful anti-Euro “No Campaign”. 

The EU has accumulated too many powers which undermines the ability of national governments to take the decisive action needed to sort out problems. That's why we need a radical shake up of our relationship with Europe. Three years ago I founded the Fresh Start Project which explored the options for a new UK-EU relationship. I also contributed ideas to David Cameron’s landmark speech where he called for a return of powers to nation states and committed to an in-out referendum if the Conservatives win the next election.  We will only get that referendum if we have a Conservative government.  

This government has taken steps to control immigration after a decade where Labour had an open door policy. We have closed hundreds of sham colleges which were being used as a route into the UK, tightened the criteria for marriage visas and, if re-elected, we will do more to curtail the payment of benefits to EU migrants.  People should come here to work, not to claim benefits.  

Foodbanks

Food Banks do excellent work helping those who have hit difficult times and I fully support the efforts of people like Don Gardner and others from local churches in our community who have come together to offer support in this way.  

As Minister for Food, I have visited the operation in Camborne on several occasions and looked at this issue closely. The Government is doing its part by offering free school meals to all infants to ensure children are eating properly and there are other schemes like Healthy Start that make food available for young families.  

The best way to help people out of poverty is to help them back into work. That's why we have reformed the benefits system so that work pays. Since 2010, 1.7 million more people are now in work and in Camborne and Redruth, the number of unemployed people has almost halved since 2010, but there is more to do in terms of creating better paid jobs.

We also need to help those suffering the demoralising consequences of personal debt and I recently held a conference to address this issue and look at alternative ways to help people navigate a way out of indebtedness.