A county divided on Europe

09:24 Friday 24th October 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Many comments from you as you can probably imagine this morning on the subject of Europe, and this survey that says that 56% of us now want to stay in. It’s the highest number for 23 years, according to this new poll, although the news today may impact on that I would think, the fact that we’ve got to give this £1.7 billion extra to Europe, because our economy has been doing so well. Yvonne says “How dare they! We’ve taken pension cuts, wage freezes, university fees doubling and so many cuts to get where we are. Let France, Germany and Greece take the punishment. They’re not taking away any more money from us.” Andy says, ” If I do well in my pub Paul, does that mean I have to give some of my profits to the pub in the next village because they’re having a bad time? No. So we shouldn’t give our money to the rest of the EU.” Gary says, ” Paul, didn’t Margaret Thatcher negotiate a rebate in 1984 because the UK economy was performing so badly which all of the other member states had to pay for and have continued to do so?” We’re in the club, we’ve got to pay I think is what Gary is saying. If we do better, then we help those that don’t. Paul Bullen is Leader of the UKIP group on Cambridgeshire County Council. Morning Paul.
PAUL BULLEN: Good morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: So, we’re part of the club, we’ve got to chip in when others are not doing so well. It’s a good idea, isn’t it?
PAUL BULLEN: Ah of course it’s a good idea. It’s absolutely ludicrous. Where do they get these figures from? This is a recalculated growth figure apparently. What they’re not saying is it also includes income from the black economy. It’s got nothing to do with the British economy. It’s Europe after more and more money. They’re saying that they’re going to take more money from Holland and Italy, Italy is almost on its knees, and from Greece which is on its knees. And yet we’re going to give a £1 billion rebate to France, and almost as much to Germany. What the EU is telling the UK taxpayer is that it’s got to pay £1.7 billion to Germany and France. That is absolutely ludicrous when we have old age pensioners currently going to food banks and who are going to be in fuel poverty in a couple of months time.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes, if we believe this poll out in the last 24 hours, more and more of us are actually warming to the idea of Europe, warming to the idea that we all look after each other. 56% of us now want to stay in Europe. That’s not good news for you, is it?
PAUL BULLEN: Well I don’t believe .. I believe that that poll was of the members of the Liberal Democrat Conservative and Labour parties. So what it’s saying is that fifty ..
PAUL STAINTON: (LAUGHS) It’s not is it, obviously. It was carried out by Ipsos Mori.
PAUL BULLEN: .. six per cent of the members of those parties wish to stay in Europe, which proves categorically that the old parties are all pro-Europe. And that’s why UKIP’s popularity is growing at such an unusual rate.
PAUL STAINTON: So the poll’s wrong.
PAUL BULLEN: The poll is of members of the old parties. Not of the British population as a whole.
PAUL STAINTON: Huw Jones is with us as well. He’s the Labour Parliamentary Candidate for South East Cambridgeshire. Huw, morning.
HUW JONES: Good morning. How are you?
PAUL STAINTON: I’m alright. Welcome to the Big Conversation my friend. So, what are your thoughts, first of all, on this poll? 56% of us, more than ever in the last 23 years, are now cosying up to Europe. We all want to be part of the big gang. What do you think?

HUW JONES: I looked at that poll, because it came out on Tuesday or something like that, Tuesday or Wednesday. And as far as I could see it was a standard poll, taken from the general population, so I’ve no idea of this idea of it being a poll of party members.
PAUL STAINTON: There you go Paul. You see? That’s you shot down isn’t it? Right there Paul Bullen. You’re shot down.
PAUL BULLEN: We will see what the voters say in May of next year. But the membership of the EU is just taking money out of the UK taxpayers’ pockets and giving it to the likes of Germany and France. That’s the nub of it all. Europe has never ever been audited. It is a waste of money. We get nothing back from Europe for what we pay in.
HUW JONES: Well I work in science, in Cambridge, and today when I go into work I’ll be working on a project funded by the EU. A lot of the spin-offs that have come through into the Cambridge Science Park have come out of such projects. So to say that we get nothing out of Europe is absolutely ludicrous. And in South East Cambs there’s a lot of farmers. They get their CAP payments from the Rural Payment Agency. And of course that money comes from Europe. So I’m not sure where Paul gets this idea that we get nothing out of Europe. Certainly I think the Cambridge science-based economy would greatly suffer if we moved out of Europe, and I think that would be to the detriment of the whole UK economy, because we’re one of the drivers of that economy.
PAUL STAINTON: Is it right then that if we’re doing better, we chip in, and if France were doing better they’d chip in? Is that what the European Union should be all about?
HUW JONES: Well this tax thing has come out of the blue to me. The first thing I’d heard about it was on the radio this morning when I woke up. And I’m rather hoping that ..
PAUL STAINTON: Well I think you and David Cameron both. I think they’ve known for about a week. But I think a lot of politicians didn’t realise we’d signed up to this sort of thing.
HUW JONES: I suspect it’s somewhere in the depths of the rules, and I really don’t know enough about it to say anything sensible.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. It’s not the sort of thing you want is it, when you’re trying to convince people that Europe is a great thing. These headlines you could do without, couldn’t you?
HUW JONES: Well I think people see the bigger picture on the whole economy, and I think it’s one of the paradodoxes in British public life at the moment that Europe is popular, but UKIP an anti-Europe party is also popular.
PAUL STAINTON: How do you square that?
HUW JONES: I think Europe isn’t the big issue that people are going for.
PAUL STAINTON: Is it Paul? Is it a big issue?
PAUL BULLEN: Of course it’s the big issue. It’s immigration, it’s money, it’s everything. It doesn’t surprise me what your Labour candidate is saying. This is the biggest far-left socialist organisation in the world at the moment. It’s a politburo. We have no idea what’s going on in the centre of Europe. We have no way of not paying this money. Europe will declare that we have to pay it, and Britain as usual will roll over and pay. The subsidies that your other guest was talking about are actually fees we’ve already paid into Europe. At the end of the day we pay a net figure of £55 million every day into Europe. To say that we get anything out of Europe is completely wrong. That is a net figure.
PAUL STAINTON: Let’s invite some listeners into this debate. Les wants to get involved. Les, morning.
LES: Good morning.
PAUL STAINTON: Are you one of the 56% who are cosying up to Brussels?
LES: Nope.
LES: I suppose we shouldn’t be fighting, and things like that. Why do we have to pay these hefty fines? What do we actually get back? We must get something back presumably every day. So instead of this £55 million, what do we get back? Does it actually work out as £40 million, £30 million? You can still buy one hell of a lot with £30 million a day.
PAUL STAINTON: Are you asking if the EU is good value for money I think?
LES: Yes.
PAUL BULLEN: I don’t think it is.
PAUL STAINTON: Huw. let’s ask Huw. Is it good value for money Huw?
HUW JONES: In terms of the access to markets in Europe and the way that certainly firms like Microsoft have come to Cambridge because it gives them an English-speaking base, which ia also part of Europe. Not only do we get a fairly good deal out of the direct payments, it’s the intangibles that bring an awful lot to our economy. And if Paul Bullen doesn’t know what’s going on at the centre of Europe, then perhaps he should have a word with Nigel Farage and say, instead of hanging around making populist statements in the UK, Nigel should be in Europe, telling the British people what’s going on.
PAUL STAINTON: Is it good value? Is it good value Paul, the European Union for us?
PAUL BULLEN: No it’s not. It’s not good value for us at all. We’re committed to trading with 27 countries within Europe. There’s 270 other countries outside. To say that trade would stop between us and Europe, we’re a net importer from Europe. Do you think Mercedes Benz, BMW and all the rest of them are going to stop trading with the UK if we pull out? Of course they’re not.
HUW JONES: I think Microsoft might readdress their investment in Cambridge. Ford might look again at their investment in Dagenham. If we’re out of Europe, big multinational companies will look at the UK and say, we’re not going to do business there. It’s a reality that UKIP have got to face.
PAUL STAINTON: Gentlemen, Kelvin in Wisbech has a question for us. Kelvin good morning.
KELVIN: Good morning.
PAUL STAINTON: What’s your question?
KELVIN: If the pro-Europeans are so happy with this poll of 56%, let’s have a referendum and see if the whole country agrees with that 56%.
PAUL STAINTON: Right here right now. A referendum.
KELVIN: Yes. Now.
PAUL STAINTON: Not a David Cameron referendum.
PAUL STAINTON: (LAUGHS) What do you reckon Huw? A referendum right here right now says Kelvin.
HUW JONES: We’re a parliamentary democracy. I’d go for using the normal system of electing MPs and making our decisions in the normal way.
KELVIN: Yes. Sneaky, very sneaky.
HUW JONES: Pardon?
KELVIN: Sneaky. That’s …
HUW JONES: What’s sneaky about British democracy?
KELVIN: Because British democracy ..
HUW JONES: It’s only in UKIP’s world that British democracy is sneaky.
KELVIN: We did not vote to go into an economic union.
HUW JONES: I’ve elected MPs all my life, and you can’t say that’s a sneaky process. Sneaky. Come on.
KELVIN: How about the fact that we got a vote to go into the trading community. Why didn’t you just .. it’s parliamentary democracy .. just do it on your own patch, way back in the ’70s? Why did you go to the country in the first place, if you’re so pro-parliamentary? Why did you go to the country in the first place?
HUW JONES: Well I’m not responsible for what the Wilson government did, and I was only a mere whippersnapper at that time.
PAUL STAINTON: Are you scared of having a vote now Huw?
PAUL STAINTON: Because you’d lose.
HUW JONES: No, I think the probability is that we would vote to stay in Europe. And even then I think the anti-Europeans would still harp on about having another bite at the cherry.
PAUL STAINTON: Would you have a vote tomorrow Paul, and would we vote to stay in?
PAUL BULLEN: Of course we’d have a vote tomorrow. We’d allow the British people to have their say, and I believe they’d vote to come out. The answer from Huw was a categorical no. That’s his party’s stance. No. Let’s not let the British people have a say. And that’s the Labour Party all over. They don’t want the people to have a say of anything at all.
HUW JONES: You have a say in May 2015.
PAUL BULLEN: We will have a say in May 2015. But why won’t the Labour Party commit to a referendum? It is a fact the majority of the British people want a referendum on whether we stay in Europe or whether we leave.
HUW JONES: Is that a poll of UKIP members or a proper poll?
PAUL BULLEN: Labour categorically refuses to give the British people a say on Europe. We haven’t had a say on Europe. We’ve had one vote back in the ’70s on a Common Market, not on this politburo run from Brussels and Strasbourg.
PAUL STAINTON: Gentlemen, we’re going to leave it there, but thank you very much for the debate this morning. Huw Jones. Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for South East Cambridgeshire. Paul Bullen is Leader of the UKIP group on Cambridgeshire County Council. And we heard from Kelvin and Les.