Working for the future of Bedford & Kempston

Please note: This site covers the period that I was a Member of Parliament from May 2010 to June 2017. 

The Prime Minister has suggested that Members of Parliament should speak from their hearts about their views on the upcoming referendum so I wanted to share with you my thoughts.

Shaped by my life experience and by my home town of Bedford, my heart, and my head, tell me that our future is better and more secure if we vote to leave the EU when the referendum is called because:

  • We will trade with a renewed ferocity in the growing markets of the world
  • Our democratic future will be stronger
  • We will be able to draw on all the world’s talents equally and without prejudice.

Unlike some MPs, I had a non-political career before entering Parliament in 2010, and unlike most MPs, my experience was almost entirely outside both the UK and Europe. As I started, advised and invested in businesses in countries as diverse as South Korea, Australia, the Philippines and the United States, my world view, and my perspective on the United Kingdom, were formed.

Without hesitation, I believe that the economic future of our country will be more secure, not less, outside the EU. In many countries I found a deep respect for the United Kingdom – our laws, history, peaceful society and, yes, our common sense. Our identity as a country is on a secure footing – we need not be afraid of being excluded or of our voice diminishing. In fact, I believe our voice will be heard more clearly. In many cases, we have allowed ourselves to take a back seat in international business – permitting the European Union to take a ponderous lead, hoping that our country’s priorities can somehow be fitted in to the same bargain alongside those of Germany, France and 25 other countries.

The trading voice of our country is muted and our returns are commensurate as our continuing trade deficits show. Freed from the European Union, the United Kingdom would have to fight its own corner in international business and we would do so, with the conviction and ferocity that comes with the knowledge that all the gains are for businesses, jobs and prosperity in our own country.

Those who make an economic case for our continuing membership of the European Union do so based almost entirely on fear – fear of the alternative, fear of the ghosts and goblins that will immediately appear if the United Kingdom reverts to its traditional status as an independent nation.

These arguments are like those of a brutal partner in a dysfunctional relationship. ‘You know you will stay, because you know you are nothing on your own’ is the essence of the REMAIN economic case. As we know, the reality is that leaving a flawed relationship usually enhances freedom and can lead to a new, more positive beginning.

The absence of any real connection between the people and their representatives in the European Parliament shows no sign of changing and this is only the first indication of a fundamental problem with democracy within the European Union. The subtle, and not so subtle, interventions of the EU and the European Central Bank into elections in Greece, Italy and Spain are auguries of how the EU elites will increasingly operate knowing that democratic accountability is lacking, but not missed.

What strikes me though, is not just these procedural weaknesses but the sheer high handedness of the EU leadership with regard to the livelihoods of the people. The biggest projects undertaken by the EU leadership are either in tatters (Schengen) or floundering (the Euro), and in both cases the leadership fatally misjudged the best interests of the people in the countries affected.

For five years now, youth unemployment in many EU countries has neared, or exceeded fifty percent. What a waste of talent; of hope. Why has the EU not taken action to salvage the potential of future generations with the urgency required? Simply because the damage to their futures is the collateral damage required to keep one of the European Union’s main projects – the Euro – alive.

Is it the best guarantee of our democracy to tie us to a Union that with no democratic mandate seeks to determine a choice of Prime Minister over the heads of the people? Is the best path to prosperity in an uncertain world, to tie us to a Union that has no effective agenda for growth, competition and job creation and one with a diminishing share of world trade? Is future stability best maintained by tying us to a Union where politicians put an abstract ideal above reversing the waste of a generation’s talents?

Bedford is a traditional market town with a diverse and distinctive population. People from Italy, Poland, India, Bangladesh, the islands of the Caribbean and from Pakistan called Bedford home well before the UK joined the European Union. In recent decades, people from other nations have been drawn to Bedford, in part, because we welcome people from all nations – as long as they are prepared to work hard.

So, as MP, it is very hard for me to justify to my constituents why legally we have one set of rules for people from the countries of the European Union, and another rule for the rest of the world. Family connections, job opportunities, educational visits, business ideas are all sifted into two piles – with the EU pile automatically favoured.

This segregation surely cannot make sense for a future where the greatest growth, the most exciting innovations, the strongest moves towards democracy and freedom, will come from outside the EU.

Why should we bend the horizons of our children and grandchildren within the boundaries of the EU, rather than raising them to embrace the entire world? Our country will be stronger if it is free to draw on all the world’s talents on an equal basis.

The decision required will determine how we can best protect and enhance the future for the people of the United Kingdom for the next forty years. These will be years when technology and innovation will make the world closer still, where opportunities will arise as easily in Bangalore as they do in Belgium and in Lagos as easily as they will in Lithuania.

Decisions will need to be made on our behalf and, fundamentally, our decision in the referendum is whether those decisions are best made by our own unfettered democracy or by placing our trust with the Union.

There are risks whichever path we choose, but which path presents the bigger risk over the next forty years of our history? Britain engaging directly with the world, meeting challenges and creating opportunities based solely on our own national interests, or Britain, perhaps artificially, linking its success to a Union of declining global significance and whose leaders are apparently indifferent to the needs of their own people?

My life experience has taught me to love our democracy and to cherish our freedoms. I have an unshakeable belief in our strength as a nation and in our compassion as a people.

A whole world awaits our children and grandchildren. On their behalf we must take this historical opportunity to chart our own course and LEAVE.

61 Responses to My Views on the Upcoming EU Referendum

  • I agree with all your statements Richard and although sad to say the EU dream has not worked and will not work due to the fact nations such as France and Germany are very nationalistic and are and always will be looking out for themselves, and as one French president said Britain is a little nation on the edge of Europe and of no interest, even now we stick to the rules while others openly flout them for their own advantage. We are better out before they take our financial centre too !

  • For the 1st time in my life (I’m 71) I voted conservative in the general election purely on the basis of the referendum. I also voted for you Richard in the local elections as I thought it well deserved.
    Thank you for stating so clearly your views.
    I didn’t vote to go in to the common market as I thought as a Country we would lose our national identity and for me that is exactly what has happened. So my vote will be out.

  • I fear this referendum will (somewhat bafflingly) be a close run thing hinging on the votes of the undecided. I hope your views will help some of them come to the conclusion that we absolutely must not miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to leave the failed and failing European Union.

  • Having also had an international career over some 30 years, living and working in countries as diverse as Fiji, Bolivia, Yemen and Vietnam, I share your world view and came to the same conclusion regarding Britain’s membership of the EU some 15 years ago. I once believed there was a rational for a United Europe which stood as a bulwark between the USSR and the USA and which promoted a different view, worldwide, to those two powers. The rationale for this ceased to exist in 1990. I hope that your views are widely circulated by the still, sadly, disunited Leave campaigns and have taken the liberty of copying this through Facebook, attributed of course. Best wishes.

  • Thank you Richard for outlining your views on why we should exit the EU. However, I have a major concern about how our exit will affect employment laws. I remember working at a job centre in the 1990s and the salary per hour was so low for many of the jobs advertised. Joining the EU, we had to have a minimum wage. France’s employment laws protect their workers far more than the UK. Right now we have zero contract hours. My brother works 40 hours a week in London for a well known jewellers, but they do not employ him on a permanent full time basis, instead they have him on a low pay 3 month contract that they renew each quarter. They therefore don’t have to provide sick pay etc. How will leaving the EU affect the millions in this country who do not have concrete employment and cannot make plans for their future when they are on such precarious low wage contracts? Will they be better or worse off?

  • Extremely well thought out & presented. any doubts I had have evaporated. as a UK citizen but usually in S Africa will I be able to vote?

  • Just read Richards views on Britain leaving the EU, to which I entirely agree.
    For my part I am involved in commercial flooring with a large percentage in London financial districts..working for many companies from around the world based or moving to London. My point is that in my own small way I guide their floor covering requirements/choices with ease to our many British manufacturers. The old Thatcher call “buy British”. However regarding Bedford I like many of my friends and neighbours are extremely concerned regarding immigration. Richard does cover the point of multi cultural Bedford which is no bad thing if kept within manageable levels, but being unfortunate enough to use our local NHS facilities recently I was horrified by the pressure our, (and I say “our ” as a tax contributor of over 50 years.) NHS service is under, where immigrant use seems to have got out of hand. I may be completely wrong in this and also my assumption that certain foreign retail shops are trading for their countrymen benefit…..where I ask myself if the profits are being spent within Britain?
    I will be voting to leave the European Union as with my life experience I passionately feel that Britain, as always, will be Great left to forge its own destiny!

  • Although I am a lifelong centre left Labour voter, I still try to keep an open mind. To this end of have sought out the views of people I have come to respect on all sides of the political spectrum. You are one of those people and I would just like you to know that you have convinced me of the right decision for me to make on June 23rd in the interest of my children and my grandchildren’s future. At the outset of the campaign I would not have dreamed I would end up voting to leave. But I will be. Thank you for your help!

  • Thank God you are talking some sense.
    According to others, we will have World War 3, financial depression, massive job losses, no pensions, no trade, and every plague imaginable apart from a deluge of locusts…. what nonsense. We face having a European army and Turkey joining up as well as probably a number of other matters that are being kept quiet about … we will probably only know after we have voted!
    We have managed to trade so effectively under the yoke of Europe that we still have the 5th largest economy in the world …. imagine how good we can trade if we were independent of European constraints.
    Yet we used to lead the world …. and we can do it all once again.
    Please get us out of this terrible club a.s.a.p.
    Vote Leave!

  • I have appreciated your views on the Referendum, Mr Fuller. I voted Remain but accept the will of the people. Now I would very much like to hear your thoughts on the plan going forward in a country that appears to be very much split down the middle on all fronts. Who is going to led us onwards in this brave new world when our PM has all but thrown in the towel and Labour is in chaos? Ireland doesn’t need much of an excuse to implode and the key player politician on the platform who seems to have their stuff together is Sturgeon and she wants her country to remain where it voted to remain. For (nearly) every one person that voted Leave, another voted Remain. Throughout this rather ugly campaign, something very obvious came to light. The issues besieging Britain are not truly rooted with the EU. This is a divided country with its own political issues looking for something outside their own borders on which to lay blame. To quote an article I recently read, “As the tattered remains of the government try to work out what Brexit will actually mean in practice, more damage has already been done to our economy, to our prospects and to the job market than years of open borders ever could have.” Boris Johnson confirms he wants free movement and the single market. Otherwise known as “membership of the European Union.” IDS says “We never made any commitments. We just made a series of promises that were just possibilities”. None of these quotes inspire confidence. So my question to you, as a member of your constituency is where do we go from here?

  • What is your reaction to the people trying to frustrate the will of the people

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