'ELECTION 2015: WHAT THE PARTIES SAY ON EUROPE AND IMMIGRATION' [EXTRACT]

By James Franklin

Southern Daily Echo – 6 May 2015

The UK's membership of the European Union and immigration are two of the thorniest issues the parties will tackle in the run-up to the General Election. Many of the parties are calling for the public to have their say on whether the country remains within the EU, with the Conservatives pledging to hold an in/out referendum in 2017 if they win and UKIP calling for the UK to withdraw to "take back our borders".

However Tory MPs are split on the question of EU membership, and other parties have argued that pulling out of the union would have dire impact on the nation's economy and jobs, as well as reducing the UK's voice on the international stage.

In the latest of a series of features looking at the key issues voters will be considering ahead of the election, we asked five candidates in Hampshire what their views are on the EU and immigration.

EUROPEAN UNION: Should the UK remain within the European Union?

... Julian Lewis, Conservative, New Forest East:

"Britain should not participate in any project to create a single country called ‘Europe’ - and that is exactly what the EU aims to do. Therefore, we should leave the European Union and deal directly, instead, with those countries which choose to stay. Our trading relationship with the EU states is extremely valuable. Yet, that is no justification for merging our economy with theirs, combining our army with theirs, subordinating our laws to theirs, or subsuming our foreign policy in theirs.

"We have important economic, military and diplomatic relationships with the United States, but no-one uses those links to argue that we should become part of the USA. The same should apply to the European Union; but it is led by incorrigible federalists who are determined to create a superstate. Ultimately it will fail, and it is better that we are not part of it when the crash finally takes place."

REFERENDUM: Should there be a referendum for the public to decide?

... Julian Lewis, Conservative, New Forest East:

"Definitely. The un-elected bureaucrats who run the EU fear a referendum, just as Dracula dreads the Crucifix. They know that their creeping process of European federalisation has no democratic legitimacy. Countries joined the Common Market on the basis that it was primarily (if not solely) a vehicle for economic co-operation. Time and again, our people were promised that our political sovereignty – that is, the right to govern ourselves – would not be compromised. But that is exactly what has happened.

"The promises have proved worthless, and the attempt to construct a single European economy, by means of creating a single European currency, has predictably led to tension and upheavals in EU states with widely divergent social and economic systems. Don't forget that those who are desperate for us to remain in the EU, previously insisted that we had to join the single currency. They were wrong then and are wrong now."

IMMIGRATION: Is there too much immigration into the UK? If so, what issues does this cause and what would your party do to tackle it?

... Julian Lewis, Conservative, New Forest East:

"Most mainstream Parties accept that immigrants contribute much to British society and to our economy, but that their numbers must be controlled and their quality approved. Such arrangements are not now in place. In striving to become a single European State, the EU has created not only a single European currency, but also a single European workforce whose movements we cannot control. Furthermore, non-EU immigrants who enter and become citizens of another EU state cannot be prevented from moving here.

"My grandparents came to the UK from Eastern Europe 100 years ago, so I understand the benefits of taking in people who admire the United Kingdom, respect its laws and wish to integrate with its society. Yet, the totals must always be manageable; the infrastructure for housing and schooling must always be available; and those who come must not be hostile to our values or enemies of our democratic system."

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION: What would you do to tackle illegal immigration?

... Julian Lewis, Conservative, New Forest East:

"Illegal immigration can never be prevented without strict entry and exit passport and visa checks. However, so far as I can see, it is the sheer scale of legal immigration which is causing concern, together with the problems caused by the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law and its sometimes perverse interpretation by judges at home and abroad.

"Given the EU's obsession with the ‘free movement of peoples’ between all the member states, it seems doubtful that changes to restore British control over legal immigration from within the European Union will ever be possible without our departure from the EU.

"On human rights, by contrast, the Conservatives hope to bring in a UK Bill of Rights to take precedence over the Convention in such matters. It would almost certainly need a Conservative majority government to be able to pilot this through the House of Commons."