The Rt Hon Frank Field MP visited Sherborne on Friday 20th May to speak as part of our series of lectures on the EU Referendum under the title “Better Alone”. Almost 300 filled the centre of the Abbey Nave to hear him speak. As promised he has sent a copy of his notes for the evening.
Frank Field MP:
‘We are debating the destiny of our nation. Do we see our future to lie within the European state? Or do we see our future to lie outside, keeping our friendly relationship with Europe, but being our own governor?
‘This is the great question that we will decide as we go into the polling stations on referendum day. There is no simple factsheet that anyone can provide you on how to make up your mind on this great question.
‘Anybody who feels that, if only they had more information, they would be able to make a resolute and proper decision, fools themselves. Worse still, is those politicians who are campaigning as if they do have that set of facts to set you free.
‘There is no set of facts to set you free as voters. You are already free. As you approach that ballot box in a few Thursdays time, you will be settling how you will cast the destiny of our great nation.
‘There are dangers with a vote to remain or to leave. Don’t let anybody kid you otherwise.
‘To stay in the European Union contains huge risks. We just have to look at how this great venture (because it was a great venture) started back in the 1950s and the shape it has taken since then.
‘The aim was to build in stages a single European state. The aim of that state was to prevent a third world war originating in Europe.
‘NATO has prevented that third world war starting in the heart of Europe yet again. Our peace has nothing whatsoever to do with the European Union.
‘This great venture has therefore become primarily a political adventure. A vote to remain is a vote to take our country firmly and securely into that single state, and, with it, the inevitability of unlimited immigration.
‘That’s one danger.
‘The other danger is associated with voting to leave the European Union. Don’t be beguiled by the slur tactics of how many jobs we will lose, how many firms will disappear, and how many years of pestilence will be inflicted on our country as a result of a vote to leave.
‘No honest person knows. I guesstimate that there is little danger here, but I may be wrong. The danger is of a totally unknown proportion.
‘There is danger associated our withdrawal. The EU is deeply, deeply unpopular with voters across Europe. So the main danger is that our vote to leave will begin a fast unravelling of the European community. Most governments are frightened to give what David Cameron was forced to give us – a vote to you to decide the destiny of your nation.
‘If we vote to leave on Thursday 23rd June, we will light a freedom flame that could spread throughout most of Western Europe.
‘The demand will be for a vote equal to ours.
‘This will be the point of maximum danger and we should not kid ourselves otherwise. We must therefore be prepared for day two of the post-referendum world.
‘Whatever the result, the Prime Minister will soon have to go, given his mishandling of this whole event.
‘If the Conservative Government wins, then it will need to re-form quickly. It is crucial that a government representing the wide interests that have only been apparent for a decade or more amongst the Tory Party rank and file, and, since 2010, its MPs in Parliament. This pro-Britain view must be properly represented in that new government.
‘The new prime minister will need to set up, separately, a negotiating team. This team needs to draw on the wide range of talents on the Tory side, but also across the House of Commons and beyond. We must draw on the cleverest Europhiles, such as Dominic Grieve, whose beliefs on the EU are different from mine. We need the very best team possible to renegotiate our relationship with the EU.
‘I summarise: If the vote is to leave, then, likewise, a new government must be formed that has the confidence of the House of Commons. That government will be Tory-dominated.
‘Likewise, the new government will need to set out, separately, a negotiating team. That needs to have the very best brains on it, of those who opposed leaving as well as those who campaign to leave.
‘It is crucial that on the day after the referendum, and as soon as a new prime minister is established, that person tells Europe that we are beginning our negotiations from a status quo.
‘We will not wish to move everything at once. We wish to move slowly, carefully, subject by subject.
‘Our aim will be to ensure the wellbeing of the EU and to deliver a package which the British electorate will have voted for.
‘There are bound to be frayed tempers both in this country and in Europe. A first task of our new prime minister will be to stir up apathy. It is crucial that nothing is done quickly or without the most careful thought of its repercussions. It is crucial, also, that the negotiating team are as open as they can be, both with the electorate in this country over the long-term objectives of the negotiations, but likewise engaging with our partners in Europe, on how best we can fulfil the mandate of withdrawal in a way which strengthens Europe in the longer run.’