A Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Member of Parliament from Ireland has broken ranks and joined Leave.eu, which campaigns for a British exit from the European Union. His party supports the Conservative government’s efforts to “renegotiate” the terms of Britain’s membership ahead of any referendum on the matter.
The party has today released a picture of Sammy Wilson, MP for East Antrim, Northern Ireland, shaking hands with the leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) Nigel Farage, who is heading up the campaign. Leave.eu, aims to secure a decisive vote against continued membership of the EU in an upcoming referendum. Launched over the summer, it is already drawing support from all sides of the political spectrum.
An accompanying statement from Mr Wilson slammed the Prime Minister David Cameron’s renegotiation efforts in Brussels as “pathetic”, the Belfast Telegraph has reported.
“It is evident from the pathetic demand for minimal changes to the terms of our membership of the EU, that the Prime Minister was not serious about ensuring that the UK got a better deal from Europe and the only course of action was to negotiate a relationship which fell short of EU membership,” he said.
In doing so, he has gone against his party’s policy, which a DUP spokesman was quick to highlight remains “as in the last manifesto”.
He clarified “we support renegotiation – were that not to be successful then we would support a vote to leave”.
Mr Wilson said: “We need to have control over our own destiny, to determine our own laws and to protect businesses and families from the financial burdens imposed by the EU membership.
“Currently 65% of our laws are made and imposed from the EU commission with no accountability. Our membership costs this country £12bn each year, and we have a trade deficit with Europe of over £70bn at the same time we are prevented from making our own trade agreements with those countries in the world which are growing and are tied to the trade policies of the stagnating European economies.
“It is time for a change. We can have the best of both worlds, access to the European market but freedom to determine our own laws and trading arrangements. There are those who argue that being outside the EU would disadvantage us economically. They said the same thing about our decision not to joint the Eurozone. They were wrong on that issue and they are equally wrong on the question of EU membership.
“Given the determination of the majority of EU institutions and the heads of the major states in Europe to forge a federal Europe in which all countries would be corralled into a one size fits all Europe super-state, the UK would be better off out.”
David McNarry MLA, the Ukip leader in Northern Ireland, said his party will work with anyone to get out of the EU, but asked: “Are the DUP in disarray over the Brexit campaign?”
He has called on the DUP to “stop fence sitting,” on the issue of EU membership. Referring to the DUP’s only representative in the European Parliament, he added: “The person we now need to hear from is Diane Dodds MEP. Is she still tethered to the fence, while Sammy Wilson has jumped over it?”