THE subject of a referendum on our membership of the EU has, once again, been discussed in Parliament.
As someone who has been a committed Eurosceptic throughout my political life, my view has not changed. I would like to see a sensible renegotiation of our relationship with the EU and a return of significant powers to Westminster.
However, at a time when eurozone countries don’t know what the euro will look like in a few weeks, still less a few years, I think it is hard to argue this is the right time to hold a referendum.
A settled state is necessary in order to define a question – before we can have an informed choice we need to know, not only from what we are seeking to extricate ourselves, but also what the alternative path will look like and how this will impact our economy.
Matters are complicated further by the fact we are currently in coalition with a pro-European party and have no chance of achieving a parliamentary mandate for a referendum.
When it does happen, I hope a referendum outcome will trigger radical changes, rather than be a hollow gesture of defiance.
Meanwhile, the public’s trust in the banking sector has been further eroded. I welcome the decision of Barclays chairman and chief executive to step down as the credibility of their leadership was broken.
However, I am not keen to see a slew of expensive public enquiries which solve nothing but only tell us what we already know – forceful regulation and cultural change is the answer.
This government has already brought in the toughest controls in Europe, but chronic lack of regulation of the banking sector over a generation has given rise to a culture which is, in places, simply immoral – pursuit of millions through illegal practices need to be stopped and those who perpetrate such behaviour must be held to account.
Next week sees what is likely to be a contentious two-day debate defining the future appearance and role of the House of Lords. I look forward to setting out my views on this subject in next week’s Journal.