Geordies Better Off Out: Newcastle First Releases Policy Statement
The retiring Leader of Newcastle's only independent political party has today repeated his call for fellow Geordies to back a UK exit from the EU.
Ernie Shorton, a founding member of Newcastle First and has served as its leader since 2013 and will continue to lead the party’s EU referendum committee until the end of June, is not convinced by the arguments from the Remain side.
Ernie has released a policy statement highlighting:
- So-called EU investment on Tyneside and questions whether UK politicians would not have backed these developments had the UK retained control of EU funding;
- Geordies as second class citizens compared to EU nationals in immigration, NHS services and university education;
- The EU as bad for working class people.
Ernie Shorton said: “Newcastle First believes that power should be as close to individuals, their families and their communities as possible. Newcastle is 300 miles from London and even further from Brussels and neither the UK government nor the EU has served us well. The EU, which takes decision as far away as possible, is frankly a failing institution. It is a giant titanic surrounded by icebergs and we will be safer and stronger putting distance between us and it.
“Like many people in Newcastle, I instinctively believe in working closely with our international partners. Sadly, membership of the EU puts us in a club that is inward looking discriminating substantially in favour of nationals of EU countries ahead of the Commonwealth and other countries outside Europe.
“Is it right that someone who speaks little or no English and has no particular skills to offer can come here on a whim, receive NHS treatment for free and claim benefits by virtue of their passport while someone from Pakistan has to pay a lot of money and be approved by the Home Office for a visa to join their husband or wife in this country?
“That is the unfairness that the EU has imposed on our country. David Cameron’s renegotiation was supposed to sort it and, if we can’t get changes when threatening to leave, it will be impossible to do it from within.
“Is it right that someone from England has to pay for tuition in Scotland, yet someone from Germany would be eligible for free tuition? That is the unfairness of the combination of the devolution settlement and the EU.
“Everywhere we look, we see examples of people in the North East facing one disadvantage or another because we are attached to the EU. EU migrants being bumped up the housing queue, communities reshaped in negative ways because of EU migration and employers illegally paying less than the minimum wage are all things that we have been told about.
“Labour, Lib Dem and Tory campaigners for the remain side argue that many of the developments would not have happened without EU funds. If true, this is a shocking admission that bureaucrats in Brussels care more about investing in Newcastle more than successive Labour, Liberal and Tory governments.
“We believe it is time for the UK to take control of its own borders, make its own laws and set the terms of its trade with the rest of the world. We urge all Geordies to join the UK war of independence from the EU by supporting the campaign to leave the European Union.”
POLICY STATEMENT – EUROPEAN UNION REFERENDUM
The Newcastle First Campaign Group is registered with the electoral commission as the Newcastle upon Tyne Community First Party. Our focus is normally on issues impacting on Newcastle upon Tyne and the wider North East of England.
We believe the future of our relationship with the European Union is of vital importance for our city. We listened to the arguments for and against leaving the EU and debated whether we should remain neutral or take a position.
The following is a summary of the arguments and background that led us to take a position in favour of Vote Leave in the EU referendum. In keeping with our constitution, individual members are not bound by this statement on a national policy issue but it sets out our agreed position.
Democracy and Local Accountability
Newcastle First believes that power should be held as close as possible to individuals, families and communities and that those who hold power should be accountable to the people they serve. That is why the Geordie party backs devolution from the council to local communities, from regional bodies to local authorities and from national to regional level.
It is with this principle in mind that we have considered our position on the forthcoming referendum. We believe the time is right for the UK to take control of its own destiny by voting to leave the EU.
In the European Union, true power is held behind closed doors in the Council of Ministers and European Commission. Even in the only democratically elected EU institution, the North East of England has just three members in the European Parliament so we have no real influence over the decisions made there. Like them or loathe them, we can throw out any councillor, MP or MEP if we disagree with what they do or stand for but we cannot get rid of the Council of Ministers and the European Commission.
We are 300 miles from London and it often feels like their focus is not on the issues we face in Newcastle – yet our political class in Newcastle expect us to believe that bureaucrats in Brussels care more. Councillors in Newcastle highlight examples of so called EU investment in our city such as Science Central, the Toffee Factory, Live Theatre Liveworks, North Bank of the Tyne, The Beacon, and Newcastle University Translational Research Building, however, what they fail to mention is that this is simply our own money back. If they are saying that a Labour, Conservative or Lib Dem government would not have invested at all in our city if we had never joined the EU, this would be quite a shocking statement to make.
Discrimatory Immigration Rules
The free movement of people is sacrosanct in the European Union. We have had significant movement of people from Eastern Europe while Britain is turning its back on the rest of the world. Schools and other public services in Newcastle have been impacted by the large scale migration to England from poorer parts of the continent. We believe that moving to Britain should be about the skills and experience you bring and the values we have, not which passport you hold.
A Geordie who marries a citizen outside the EU and wants to settle in Newcastle will have to pay £2,200 for a spouse visa, sit an English language test, earn over £18,600 per year and have their accommodation approved by the Home Office while a Romanian married to a national from the same country who decides to live with their new partner in Newcastle will have to pay less than £200, earn any amount, have no English language requirement and do not have to have their accommodation approved. We believe it is outrageous that British citizens are treated less favourably than citizens of other European countries.
Discrimination in Health and Education
It is not just in family matters that Geordies are treated less favourably than people from other EU countries. There is nowhere starker than health and the university system.
An EU national who moves to Scotland or Wales will enjoy free prescriptions, free dental and any other NHS treatment that is free for Scottish and Welsh, while Geordies have to pay.
There are currently 125,000 students from other EU countries studying in UK universities. Campaigners for staying in the EU are keen to stress how much these students bring into our economy. What they fail to mention is that students from China, India and many other countries outside the EU also contribute to our country and arguably contribute more since they pay the full market cost of the university course.
The most incredible unfairness of all is a Bulgarian or Polish student being able to study for free in Scotland while a Geordie student – whose parents pay the taxes to fund free tuition for Scottish and EU students – will have to pay the full tuition fees. It seems we are second class citizens in our own country.
We believe that people living in the North East have for too long been treated unfairly in the UK devolution settlement. Per head of population, Scotland receives more funding and London receives far more infrastructure spending than the North East. Within the European Union, UK nationals have been relegated to second class citizens behind EU nationals but Geordies are behind people living in Scotland, Wales and in London when it comes to the focus of national government. Nowhere was this starker than the fuss over Tata’s decision to close the Port Talbot steelworks when far less attention was paid to the fate of the Redcar plant.
We have heard a lot of scaremongering about the economic impact of leaving the European Union. As an independent nation, Norway has a seat at all of the global top tables alongside the EU and alongside other nations of the world. Norway exerts its influence over global agreements that the EU negotiates on our behalf.
As a member of the EU, the UK is not even allowed to be at the top table when international economic regulations are agreed.
The euro has created economic misery for Europe’s poorest people and the EU has much higher levels of unemployment than the UK. We are sailing on the political titanic heading for icebergs that some simply refuse to see and if we do not get off now, we will go down with the other 27 nations on the ship.
The EU was created in the middle part of the 20th century when the continent was recovering from war and divided between democracy and communism and it is rooted in the past. Although the European elite believe it is a ship that cannot sink, the reality is the EU titanic is incapable of reforming to meet the big technological, demographic and economic challenges of our time.
While we believe free trade could be good for Newcastle and the UK, the EU is focused on building and maintaining power and control for the elites rather than us, the little people.
Until the UK regains the power over its borders, ability to agree all its own laws and the opportunity to set the terms of its trade with the rest of the world, Geordies will never enjoy real freedom, always be second class citizens in our own country and never see the step change improvement in the local economy.
We therefore call on all Geordies to join the UK’s war of independence and vote to leave the EU on 23 June.