Braintree MP supports leaving EU

PUBLISHED: 16:36 07 January 2016

Bridge campaigners Peter and Mary Curry and Jane Welsh with Braintree MP James Cleverly,

Bridge campaigners Peter and Mary Curry and Jane Welsh with Braintree MP James Cleverly,

Archant

An Essex MP said it should be no surprise to his constituents that he will campaigning to leave the European Union.

James Cleverly, who was elected as Braintree’s MP last May, said he had not directly told the Prime Minister of his decision, after he has released a statement setting out why he will campaign to leave the union.

The former web and print publisher said his position “since time immemorial” had been that the European Union was not working, and unless there was significant change he would vote to leave.

“That position is crystallising. What we have seen in the lead up to Christmas, and I have spent a lot of time over Christmas thinking about this, is that the European Union is showing itself collectively to be really unwilling to make the kind of significant reform I feel it needs.
“My view on this is now we are looking at a strong possibility of a referendum this year. I have looked at where we are the where these negotiations are likely to lead us and in my personal view it is likely it is not enough to convince me.”

“I know that there are people in the association who are more passionately eurosceptic than me. I also know there are people in my constituency who have concerns about leaving the European Union. It is one of these positions where there is not an easy or natural dividing line.
He also said he hoped that the referendum would not become “personal and aggressive”.

“This is one of the things I feel very passionately about. There are going to be good principled people on both sides of this argument. There is an opportunity to show a referendum can be fought in a fundamentally different way. IT can be a referendum about choices and it doesn’t become personal and aggressive. From a Conservative point of view I have no intention of making this a personality battle. This is about the issues. If we do that we can campaign in good spirit. Whatever the result, I will respect the result, we will get on with all the jobs that we need to do.

“There are lots of other things. This is an important issue, but and I have no intention of losing friends over this issue.”

The former army reservist also backed David Cameron to remain as prime minister, even if Britain votes to leave.

He said there was a “big pragmatic argument” for ministers to be allowed to campaign for either the In or Out camps ahead of the referendum which could be called as early as this summer, and definitely before the end of 2017.

But he dismissed suggestions that the Prime Minister would have to resign in the event of a vote to leave because he has staked his future on renegotiating Britain’s membership of the EU.

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