I suspect many of the Journal readers would rather the European Parliament didn’t exist.
You probably wonder why we need a separate Parliament to hold the European Commission to account and why our own Parliament in Westminster can’t do that job. But we have to deal with the world as we find it – and use all available levers to promote Britain’s cause and argue our case.
So I want us to send people to the European Parliament who are going to defend our sovereignty and protect the vital interests of British businesses, farmers and families. The way to do that is to turn up, work hard, stay late – to build alliances, do deals and wield influence. That is what David Cameron has been doing in Brussels since 2010 and the result has been the first ever cut in the EU budget, the first ever treaty vetoed by a British Prime Minister, and the release of the UK from any commitment to use British taxpayers’ money to bail out members of the Euro.
It is what David Cameron and William Hague will do to renegotiate the terms of our membership and bring powers back to Britain, if there is a Conservative government after 2015. And it is what we need Conservative MEPs like Emma McClarkin to carry on doing in the committees of the European Parliament in the months and years to come.
I know that many people are tempted to use their vote in the European elections on 22 May 22 to stick two fingers up to the European Union and all those who ride on its well-upholstered gravy train. All of us in the main parties will be lined up in the stocks that day and the desire to chuck rotten vegetables at us may prove irresistible to many people who might usually support us.
Before you decide how to vote, I would simply ask you to stop and think. Do you want to have a chance to vote in a referendum on our membership of the European Union in 2017? If so there is only one party that can deliver that for you. Labour and the Liberal Democrats won’t. UKIP can’t. Only a vote for David Cameron and the Conservatives will give you the chance of a real say on the future of Britain’s place in Europe. And that is surely worth more than a passing moment of protest.