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The UK is committed to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and to the progressive realisation of the rights for disabled people that it sets out.
The UK supported the development of the convention and was one of the first countries to sign and ratify it. We are one of the few nations that has also ratified the convention’s optional protocol, which allows individual complaints to be raised and permits the UN Committee with the help of civil society, to investigate alleged violations of the convention,. That is a credit to the UK and an example that I hope other nations will follow. It is a sign of our commitment to this agenda promoting social progress and human rights. Globally, disabled people have often been the last to have those aims focused on them. They are the most discriminated against, face the greatest obstacles to reaching their full potential, and this agenda is the most under-prioritised and under-resourced in development.
The UN process offers us not just additional focus and to meet our ambitions to get it right for disable people in the UK, but also an opportunity to achieve our humanitarian goals to help other nations to achieve more too.
In our aid plans we have prioritised the 15% of the world’s population living with a disability. In 2014 we published the disability framework, with the objective of ensuring that people with disabilities are systematically included in, and benefit from, international development and humanitarian assistance.
The following year, the framework was revised to include an enhanced focus on economic empowerment; jobs and livelihoods; tackling stigma and discrimination; and expanding the work on mental health. We want to establish the UK as a global leaders on disability data, and a global leader in this field, to utilize our technology, innovation, our recourse as the second largest contributor to the OECD's Development Assistance Committee and our experience working around the globe. But to be a catalyst for change elsewhere in the world, we must do better at home.
While there are factual inaccuracies in the UN report and omissions in recognition of good work undertaken by the UK, I accept there is still much more to do across the board. In fairness much work is underway, whether it is the health and welfare reforms we consulted on earlier this year on employment, on tackling hate crime; on building regulations and housing; on the provision of critical facilities, such as changing places loos; on tackling the extra costs of disability; on accessability, on the consumer agenda and the work of our sector champions, on changes to education and extending opportunity; the funding of social care and independent living, and on the additional provisions of the Equality Act we wish to bring into force and smarter ways of enforcing that act.
The EHRC also called for a co-ordinated, UK-wide action plan to implement the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, and I agree a more explicit approach would be helpful. The Office for Disability Issues is currently reflecting on how we take this work forward, and embed the opportunities for disabled people to shape, continually and in real time, improvements that we want to make to the welfare system and other areas, and to inform proactively any future reform that we may wish to undertake.
As we develop our UN reporting process I hope that the UN will recognise not just the progress that the UK has made—and is making—and our ambitions on this agenda, but our humanitarian desire to help other nations to achieve more.
Disabled people don’t need to be Paralympians to inspire us- they do that every day
The Times, Red Box, 8 September 2016
The whole country is rightly proud of our Olympic athletes and their haul of gold medals and I hope the nation will be just as excited to support our Paralympians, whose talents, character and passion are just as inspiring.
This is because they have overcome huge barriers to fly the flag for Great Britain at the games. They need to be determined; they need to be resourceful; and they also have to fight for equality, not just for themselves, but for the wider community of disabled people.
We need their inspiration. While there are record levels of people in employment, there is still a huge discrepancy in the proportion of disabled people in work compared with the rest of the population.
Millions of people are missing out on a career, a pay packet, the choices and opportunities that a salary brings together with the health benefits of work and meaningful activity; and British business is missing out on the talents, qualities and insights of a huge section of their potential workforce.
There have been a number of initiatives over recent years to close the disability employment gap and these important efforts will continue as we build a country that works for everyone.
There are almost 500,000 more disabled people working compared with the same time in 2013: but there is still more to do. We need educators, businesses and social enterprises to play their part and create jobs and provide support too.
How can we ensure that young disabled people have access to the careers advice they need or that the entry requirements for apprenticeships do not discriminate against them? How can we ensure there is a job for every person with a learning disability who wants one? How can we guarantee the reach, provision and timeliness of work support and healthcare? Or that those who have an accident or illness do not fall out of work? How do we open the eyes of the employer to the opportunities that there are and the support available to grasp them? How do we enable a healthcare professional to join the dots between someone’s fit note appointment and the possibility that they are being bullied at work?
How do we end the discrimination that disabled people are more likely to face than others at every step of their journey? How do we support older workers still years from retirement, but no longer able to continue in their trade? How do we empower and enable the vast numbers of patient and peer support groups to provide the help and encouragement needed? And how do we ensure carers are able to nurture their own dreams as well as their loved ones?
To meet these challenges and more we must unite all the resources, knowledge and goodwill available to us: the £50 billion we spend each year on support and services for disabled people; the 500 disability employment advisers; the thousands of health and social care professionals; the entrepreneurs and the investors; and the mass of data and expertise in every sector. It is incumbent upon us to harness all these to this cause so that everybody is given the chance to go as far as their talents will take them.
I know these challenges are tough; but, in order to be the nation we want to be, we must grasp them. How can we ever reach our potential as a country without all our individuals reaching theirs?
And I believe we can achieve it. Our great country was the birthplace for the Paralympic games. We nurtured them in their infancy and gave them to the world, and when they returned to us in 2012 we raised the bar again: giving them absolute parity with the Olympics. The Rio games are being covered by a British broadcaster who has given them the status and focus they deserve. This week Britain launched a Global disability innovation hub at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic park, to collate research, promote co-design and share good practice to improve the lives of disabled people across the world. We have shown, and must continue to show, leadership.
Disabled people don’t need to be Paralympians to be inspiring. The qualities that the disabled bring to the workplace and the wider community are obvious to anyone familiar with them. They inspire, they motivate, they educate and they demonstrate what is possible. Their insight and wisdom is often humbling and their courage and determination are exemplary.
I know the whole country will be cheering our Paralympians in Rio over the coming weeks and I hope this legacy will continue long after the Games as we fight against injustice wherever we find it.
The News, 19 July 2016
We have a new prime minister, a new cabinet and a revitalised sense of purpose. The appointment of Theresa May only three weeks after the referendum has brought stability and certainty to British politics. We know that there will be no second referendum: the Prime Minister has been explicit that the will of the people clearly expressed must be upheld. Brexit means Brexit. And we know that the Prime Minister will use the rest of this Parliament to deliver the deal with Europe and the world that Britain needs, and to deliver the 2015 manifesto upon which the government was elected.
But while the executive is in good shape Parliament is not. Last week during an "opposition debate"- time on the floor of the House of Commons to discuss any issue HM Opposition wishes, not one Labour MP put in to speak. The Labour Party is split between its leadership supported by its membership and the Parliamentary Party. You might think that a Conservative MP should rejoice in Labour’s woes, but I do not.
In our Parliamentary democracy the opposition has a key role to play: scrutiny of legislation, improving that legislation, testing policy, forwarding an alternative view, giving voice to descent. The structures of the Commons and Lords - the revising chamber - are set up to facilitate this. But the opposition is not focused on these tasks. Individual MPs might be doing their best, but there is no co-ordinated and strong opposition and parliamentary democracy is suffering as a consequence. Instead of an alternative policy platform being pushed from the benches opposite, opposition in the form of demonstration and rallies is out on College Green. Worse still, MPs who have not supported their leader have been threatened. A Leadership candidate had her office windows smashed. Criticism of this behaviour has been too slow.
My party has managed a swift leadership contest; I hope Labour manages one too, and that whatever the result the leadership, the Parliamentary Party and its membership can unite behind an agreed policy and strategy. And I hope that the vicious and intolerant behaviour we have seen will cease, and respect for those democratically elected by their constituents will prevail.
Parliament needs that, democracy needs that and the country needs that too.
It’s the moment of truth – seize it and vote to leave the EU
The News, 7 June 2016
From time to time in our nation’s illustrious history we have been called upon to do the extraordinary.
When such moments arise we do not take the path of least resistance: we do the bold and challenging thing. We do the right thing.
That was the case in 1914 and again in 1939.
In 1982 it would have been so simple to let the Falkland Islands go, but we did not forget who we were and for what we stood. The islands were liberated and the Falkland Islanders’ right to self-determination was protected.
Today we face another moment of truth.
The choice we make will define us for generations and perhaps forever.
Come June 23 the power to decide our future will be fully in the hands of the British people.
Awareness of this responsibility is why the electorate’s constant refrain throughout the campaign has been ‘give us the facts’. The British people want the facts, to weigh those facts and then to trust their own judgement. I trust that judgment, too.
Some facts, then.
The French minister of the interior has confirmed that existing border arrangements at Calais will endure. Draft plans for an EU army have been drawn up in Germany. Turkish membership is part of the EU’s agenda. EU allies trade with us now not out of altruism but because it is in their interests and it will still be in their interests after our withdrawal. The prospect of Brexit has not stopped the highest level of UK employment since records began. The single market has still not fully opened up to our service industry. Our security depends on NATO and our bi-lateral relationships. And without controlled immigration not only can we not properly plan and fund public services, but our government simply cannot govern.
Outside the EU we will have total control of defence and security – currently denied to us; we will be able to trade freely around the world; we will be able to spend our own money on our own priorities; we will shape the laws of the land; and we will decide the trajectory of our nation.
What is more, our withdrawal from the EU will give Europe the hope it needs to restore freedom and democracy at its heart.
We are a great nation and a great people, and our destiny should be in our hands. Let us reach out and seize the opportunity before us.
Let us vote Leave.
Huffington Post, 1 June 2016
I want to start with an apology.
You are going to be bombarded with information in this campaign, about what leaving or staying means to you personally and your family. The Remain campaign will be telling you that your ability to travel, work abroad and have a mobile phone is completely contingent on the EU bureaucracy. My lot, Vote Leave, will be showing why that is nonsense, why trade and security cooperation is good for all and so will still be in place post-Brexit, why wages will be higher in the UK and food prices lower, that energy will be cheaper and greener, and our economy stronger for being able to trade with the rest of the world freely, as well as Europe.
And, I’m sorry to say, I expect, you are going to have to endure rather a lot of patronising talk from well-meaning canvassers who will explain why your music downloads are under threat if you make the wrong decision in this referendum. Some may even try to “high-five” you. May I apologise on behalf of politicians everywhere who may be tempted to make assumptions about you and what you care about?
The fact is they don’t have to. The impact of this referendum on you will be massive, and it has the potential to affect everything you do, and may, care about. It will not just affect your options now, but for years to come, and in turn your children’s prospects. So I make no apologies for pointing you to Vote Leave’s website if you are worried about mobile roaming charges - you should not be, by the way - and focus in this article on what is the heart of the matter: freedom and democracy; the good that comes from it, and the tragedy its absence causes.
For me, freedom is the potential for every human being to reach their full potential. That is something that many, some younger than those of you who will be voting in the referendum for the first time, died for. And I’m not just talking about those who made the ultimate sacrifice in two world wars, but far more recent events.
The EU and I are the same age. In my teenage years it did much good as it helped bring about changes in Europe, the reunification of Germany and the opening up of the former eastern bloc. Between the ages of 18 and 20 I worked in one of those countries which had been a stranger to freedom: Romania. I was part of a huge outpouring of solidarity from the UK with the Romanian people, and in particular its most vulnerable, its children. Hundreds of ordinary British people travelled over there to help care for abandoned children, many left to rot in medieval conditions. I worked in the hospitals and orphanages, and in the middle of nappy changing, nursing, feeding and playing I began to understand why democracy is so precious, fragile and necessary for freedom. And that out of freedoms light the potential for human suffering is immense.
It was freedom and democracy that inspired young people, some still children, to take to the streets of Kiev two years ago to challenge their government and Russian authority for a closer relationship with Europe.
I want a Europe that lives up to the idea that they, and many before them, died for: a Europe of strong nation states, living in peace and prosperity, trading, cooperating for the benefit of all, able to invest in defence and a continent that is a beacon for democracy, human rights and freedom for the rest of the world.
Without democracy at the heart the European institutions, that idea is dead. That idea must not die, and if, as is now clear, the undemocratic, unaccountable EU, inadequate and unworthy, runs counter to it then the EU must change.
The consequences of it not doing so are grave: opportunity crushed, more than half of young people without a job in Greece and nearly as many in Spain, crippling austerity and hardship caused by the single currency; the tremendous suffering caused by the EU’s exacerbation of, and failure to deal adequately with, the migrant crisis; the immorality of a bureaucracy which assumes authority over, but none of the responsibility for, the key problems of our day.
The EU is removing the ability of nations to act in the interests of their people, including over immigration, which should be a force for good for our country. The simple truth is that unless you can control immigration you cannot govern because you cannot set a budget or plan public services. The toughest issues facing politicians today, and the ones that will have a direct impact on your quality of life: building enough homes, creating a high-wage economy and creating the best healthcare as science progresses, depend on us controlling immigration.
Because of the EU, the politicians you elect - whatever their political hue - have fewer options to meet your needs, ambitions and concerns. They have all of the responsibility to deliver for you, but dwindling authority. It is the same across the continent.
The EU’s share of the world economy has gone down from a third to a quarter since 1980 as it has been mired in stagnation and crisis and other parts of the world have risen. The EU is so ridden with waste and corruption that its accounts have not been given a clean bill of health for decades. Its clumsy diplomacy in Ukraine that worsened the crisis there could be forgiven if it now stood shoulder to shoulder with that nation, as the UK does, but instead it stands accused of “Ukraine fatigue” as it is distracted by other crises of its own making.
In direct response to this democratic vacuum, we have seen a rise in far-right politics across Europe. Unbelievably the EU’s answer to combat this is to give the unelected eurocrats more power over the democratically elected leaders of its member states.
As the eurozone and migration crises escalate, these in-state and inter-state tensions will also intensify. The trajectory the EU is on is incendiary. It has proved itself incapable of reform, and has redoubled its efforts to advance “the European project”. But our country now has a chance to be the catalyst to change that, by voting to leave.
The pollsters tell us that you are not up for that. I pray otherwise. I hope that you will look at what is happening and use your common sense and, yes, courage to vote for that change. We need a better deal for the UK to thrive, to trade freely globally as well as with our European neighbours. Britain should not be held back by the EU’s protectionist stance which keeps so many developing countries from growing their economies. This better deal should enable us to protect our own citizens and enable the NHS to advance. But we believe the change we are seeking could bring benefits beyond Britain, giving Europe, of which we will forever be a part, the hope and spark which it needs to reform.
Whatever and whoever you care about depend on freedom, on democratically elected and accountable people working to further your interests. That is what this referendum is about.
I could tell you about how we are the world’s fifth-biggest economy - and this is important to remember. You know we are a great country and that the world will want to trade and work with us, that we will both seize the opportunities which taking back control affords us, and honour our responsibilities to our neighbours. We can do this. We must do this. We will do this. I hope you help us to take control and Vote Leave on June 23.
Penny Mordaunt is the armed forces minister and Conservative MP for Portsmouth North
President Obama is wrong about the EU and what Brexit will mean for our national security
Telegraph online, 23 April 2016
There are many nations in the world that believe in freedom. Britain and America are two such nations who also believe in freedom's defence. So I have been paying close attention to what President Barack Obama has had to say about the European Union referendum and what it means for British defence and security.
As he arrived in Britain two days ago, he wrote in the Telegraph that we are to the United States “a friend and ally like no other”. He pointed out that our people fought and died alongside each other twice in the last century in their hundreds of thousands to save freedom in Europe and that we continue to play a vital role together in spreading democracy and security. I agree wholeheartedly.
Where we part company, however, is in our views of the value of EU membership to this mission. In Obama’s view, "The European Union doesn’t moderate British influence – it magnifies it."
Unfortunately this opinion betrays a woeful ignorance of the practical reality of the EU’s impact on our security, and the interests of the U.K. and the US. Obama warned on Friday that divisions in Europe will weaken Nato, but often those divisions are caused by the EU itself. Obama confuses collective action and defence through Nato with the integration at all costs and damn the consequences ideology that too often motivates the EU.
The President must be unaware of the alarming weaknesses that allow Daesh terrorists to move unimpeded across Europe are the result of the EU’s bull-headed desire to take down all frontiers on the continent. Even in this country, although we are outside the Schengen borderless zone, European free movement rules mean we cannot keep out those we suspect wish us harm if it is based on incomplete evidence.
Obama cannot appreciate how the ECJ has repeatedly undermined the arrangements which enable the UK and US to share intelligence. I am sure the CIA would be happy to explain to him why that the creation of a EU intelligence agency will not result in intelligence being shared EU-wide. Is he aware of the wasted resource a system which allows established EU missions, with billions invested in them, to be put in peril because one nation threatens to veto all EU funds, despite all other nations supporting it?
Nor could he have seen the result of the EU’s drive for a borderless Europe, when one country, Germany, invited in any migrant who wanted to go there, this led to chaos, division and resentment. Beleaguered member states hurriedly built razor wire fences to keep some control over the mass migration-- a phenomenon which Obama rightly identifies as a threat to national security.
Did he miss what happened to Greece? And the other nations clobbered by the appalling consequences of forced harmonisation of the eurozone? Is he oblivious to the suffering, the resulting tensions, the distrust, the rise of extremism?
As the EU lurches from crisis to crisis, both economic and diplomatic, the answer from Brussels is always the same: take more power to the centre: "we need an intelligence bureau, and an army!" Such a response merely gives the illusion of strength.
The operational reality is far less robust. The nations who shoulder the responsibility to keep their citizens safe need full control of their borders, they need the growth in their economies to increase spending on defence and security, and the recognition that it is through bi-lateral relationships and alliances that those nations capabilities become more than the sum of their parts. The structures and direction of the EU is completely counter to that.
“As the EU lurches from crisis to crisis, both economic and diplomatic, the answer from Brussels is always the same: take more power to the centre”
The trend of defence today is towards cooperation and interoperability between countries with compatible systems and equipment, not towards imposing new layers of management.
It has been said of the EU that expecting it to act as a functioning geopolitical entity is like putting wheels on your grandmother and saying she is a car. I worry that in years to come we will see a major car crash because of the misplaced ambitions of Brussels.
President Obama not only fails to recognise the dysfunctional reality, but he also ignores the fact that a vote to remain would not be a vote for the status quo but for the Union of 2025 or 2035.
Imagine what the EU would be like then, based on its current trajectory. The EU plans a full-blown political union for the eurozone and has taken the first moves towards an embryonic European army.
I hope Britain will be outside these structures, where we can chose to spend the monetary equivalent of a warship a week on our own priorities and interests, and able to put our faith in operational cooperation with those entities who bear responsibility as well as authority to keep the public safe: nation states.
It will be far better to remain a friendly neighbour to the EU, cooperating closely with our allies there in the fight against terrorism and playing our full part in European defence, whether it is guarding the Mediterranean to the south or deterring Russian aggression alongside our Nato and EUropean partners in the east.
Beyond Europe, we will gradually be able to rebalance our interests towards the wider world. We can do this once we have taken back control over our laws and democracy, over our borders, over our money and over our international trade. We have always been at our best as a country when we have been a global trading nation and this role offers us the best prospects for growing our future prosperity.
Around 2020, HMS Queen Elizabeth, our new aircraft carrier and the biggest warship we have ever had, is due to start operations. It will be a symbolic moment as 70,000 tons of floating British sovereignty take to the oceans and, depending on the result of the referendum, this will also be shortly after we have cast off from the EU.
We are not a superpower, but we have a legitimate need to protect and enhance our global interests. It is important that we maintain the independent defence capability to do so. We stand the best chance of doing so outside the EU.
In the words of another American president and great friend of Britain, Ronald Reagan, "government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” We can say the same of the EU for Britain today. For the sake of our future security, it is time to leave.
Penny Mordaunt is Minister of State for the Armed Forces
The Sunday Times online, 27 March 2016
Some have argued that the EU adds nothing; and that although its defence structures support interoperability they are neither a necessary or sufficient condition of it, as non-member states and NATO also have access to those same opportunities.
Others have gone further; they say that the EU is an obstacle to strong security and that Brexit would enhance our own: the ability to collect passenger name records from those traveling from the EU; the ability to deny EU citizens without travel documents entry; the ability to remove terrorists and those who assist them; and to cease duplicated effort, to mention just some possibilities.
Many have highlighted the potential uplift in capability that might result from not giving £96.5 billion in contributions to the EU over the lifetime of the five-year Strategic Defence and Security Review, that sum being the equivalent of a new British warship per week. Or the fact that sovereignty and security are intrinsically linked.
And, perhaps most poignantly, the actions of Europe’s politicians in standing shoulder to shoulder with Brussels in the wake of terror, and the outpouring of compassion and solidarity of those who elected them, has once again exposed that shallow accusation that EU nations would choose to put their citizens, or ours, in harm’s way by ending our close working together on these matters post Brexit.
But there is a further point yet to be made; why Brexit would also enable Europe to enhance its own security and defence, and in turn, ours. It is an obvious point that working with a stronger, safer continental Europe benefits us, but it is telling that Remain’s arguments stop there. They do not argue that being in the EU enables us to help develop Europe’s capabilities. Why? Because all the evidence points to the contrary.
Our cautioning that the extreme economic hardship caused by forced harmonization in the Eurozone would lead to unrest and tension between nations fell on deaf ears. This week, on the same day as the Brussel atrocities, the EU announced ‘the Commission is keen to remove the temporary border controls imposed by several member states within the Schengen zone as soon as possible’ in a further measure to support the euro.
At a time when we are fighting to restore the primacy of international humanitarian law both to uphold human rights and to allow our armed forces the freedom to conduct operations, European law is frustrating those aims and thus undermining our defence. Intelligence sharing is being attacked too. Last year the ECJ ruled that the trans-Atlantic safe harbour agreements, which enable data to be held in the EU and US, was illegal, thus threatening the vital co-operation that exists between the UK and the US as well as all the benefits this brings to EU member states.
And a mere two years since Crimea’s illegal annexation by Russia, when so many European nations are doubling their efforts in support of Ukraine, the EU, whose flag the Euromaidanprotesters clutched as they fell, stands accused of “fatigue” in such matters.
Far from the warm blanket the champions of the status quo claim that it represents, an unreformed EU delivers only a veil of complacency and inadequacy in these matters.
The citizens of Britain and Europe know this. When they watch the evening news and view the tiny lifeless body of a drowned toddler, or hear reports of missed opportunities to apprehend those who would do them harm, or see the anguish on the faces of those whose loved ones will never return to them because of terrorism or Russian aggression, they want us to do something about it. They want us to get a grip.
Some turn the television off. Some turn to extremist politics. Some say “it is my turn to help”. But all want and hope that these problems can be solved and that their government’s first duty - to protect them and their families - will be observed. They know these are complex problems: not just about terrorism and war, but about poverty, migration and more. But they want solutions found and acted upon.
For that to happen we do not need the founding of a pan-European intelligence agency, the effect of which would be to limit intelligence sharing; or the creation of an EU army, which would have neither the appetite or permissions to deploy; or the protectionist stifling of developing defence technologies with the wider world. Instead nation states must have control of their borders, freedom of operations and alliances, funds to invest in capability, the resolve to defeat our foes, strong bilateral relationships, trust between allies, the legal permissions to do what is right, and the accountability that only sovereignty and democracy bring. The EU has undermined all of that, and the EU must recognise that.
So let us offer Brussels and the rest of Europe something else along with our support, our services and our solidarity. Something that only a European nation, valued for a full spectrum defence capability and second-to-none intelligence agencies; and that finds itself less than 14 weeks away from a referendum on its future relationship with the continent, can offer: the opportunity to reform.
The opportunity for Europe to achieve the resolve and realism needed to revert focus to the needs of its nation states; to rekindle trust between them and remove the obstacles to tackling its problems.
The opportunity for security, prosperity and hope for all of its peoples. And for Europe to thrive and her foes to fail.
The spirit of Dunkirk will see us thrive outside the EU
Daily Telegraph, 25 February 2016
We live in an age of forgetfulness. But we ought never to forget what our forefathers taught us – that democracy doesn’t just happen. This EU referendum is not about the narrow issues of the recent deal. It’s about something much greater.
In our long Island history there have been many times when Britain has not been well-served by alignment with Europe. Rather it has been our country’s vision, inspiration and courage that have acted as the catalyst to betterment on the continent. We should be proud of our part in liberating Europe, of guaranteeing its borders and of our involvement in those seismic changes which have extended freedom to all its peoples.
When Britain stood alone in 1940 after the defeat at Dunkirk, we were cut off and ridiculed. True leadership sometimes does feel isolating. Yet we have never suffered for it. We are resourceful; we are well connected; our brand is strong in the world.
We have trade agreements outside the EU and the EU exports more to us than we export to it. Would the remaining EU members place their citizens (or ours for that matter) in harm’s way by refusing to cooperate on security matters in the event of a Brexit? Would they ask us to cease our contributions to common security and defence missions? The simple truth is this: no.
Europe now faces grave problems; the migrant crisis; a surge in criminal activity and a complete breakdown of trust between member states as to how they manage their security and borders. These challenges – like all problems – will be solved by imagination, flexibility and national responsibility.
Yet it is these precisely qualities that have been extinguished by the EU.
Debt and weak growth have seen the EU share of global growth halved since the signing of the Single European Act; our small and medium-sized businesses are having to deal with ever more EU red tape. Even the basic tenets surrounding the freedom of movement of goods, services and capital have yet to deliver for all EU members, as our banking and insurance sectors and our hauliers can testify.
The EU is on a crash course and it desperately needs to reform.
This reform would see the EU genuinely act in the interests of its nation states and their citizens. What is required for is simple: democracy and accountability. That is the necessary condition for a safer, stronger, and better off Britain and Europe. Yet time and time again the EU has failed to achieve the reform desired by its peoples.
It has failed to recognise the intolerable strain of forced harmonisation on its member nations; it has failed to respond to concerns about its budget and corruption, with its accounts failing their audits for two decades; and, most recently, it has failed to accede in full to the Prime Minister’s very reasonable requests.
David Cameron has deployed energy, drive and charm in recent months to deliver the best “In” option. We owe him our thanks not only for that but also for the referendum he has delivered. Unfortunately, he has merely proved that you cannot help those who will not help themselves.
That the deal offered falls so far short of what was wanted is not the Prime Minister’s failure. It is the EU’s failure
We should be proud of the role we have played in Europe. We have many friends in many countries who understand and appreciate that historic role. If Britain leaves the EU it will be more in sorrow than in anger. Quiet voices will hear our news. The best of them will receive it in silence and sadness.
They will understand that, from time to time, the oldest, most stable and most successful country in Europe has a duty to remind a European Union barely 50 years old that government is the servant, and not the master, of the people.
Penny Mordaunt is Minister of State for the Armed Forces