Caroline Ansell is an intelligent and educated Member of Parliament. For nearly a year she has been steeped in House of Commons life, during which time she will have been privy to a vast range of arguments from both sides about the European Union.
It is inconceivable that by now she will not have arrived at a conclusion about staying in or leaving it. Could it be that she is playing her political cards close to her chest? She has a small majority in Eastbourne and the suspicion must be that she is waiting to see where the local political wind eventually blows. Mrs Ansell’s colleague across the border is taking a different line. Maria Caulfield, whose Lewes constituency includes Newhaven, expresses no doubt. She has made clear that the town has been badly hit by the EU’s fisheries policy. A once thriving fishing town, Newhaven has seen its in-shore fishing industry decimated.
Ms Caulfield reports that shortly before Christmas, she had fishermen in her office ‘in tears as overnight, with no warning, the EU banned sea bass fishing in our waters. She reported that men who had just spent thousands of pounds on new nets had to let crew go because their business had been closed down. Ms Caulfield wrote, ‘What could I do about this as the local Member of Parliament? Nothing. The decision had been made in Brussels.’
The time is long overdue for Caroline Ansell also to come off the fence. She is astute enough to know that we can never be masters of our own destiny while we remain in the EU. We shall never be able to take control of our immigration policy, for one significant example, while we are answerable to the gathering in the Belgian capital.
I was never a political fan of former MP Stephen Lloyd, and I would not have agreed with his view on the European Union. But there is no question that he would have made his view clearly known long since.
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