MP speaks out as 'Leave' campaign launches in Forest
By Ben Craig
Lymington Times – 14 May 2016
As the Leave side launched its EU referendum campaign in the New Forest, local MP Julian Lewis has clashed with the Prime Minister and two retired security chiefs.
Dr Lewis, who will vote Leave in the referendum on June 23rd, challenged David Cameron in the House of Commons over the EU’s contribution to peace in Europe, and later wrote to a national newspaper to reject warnings against Brexit by two former heads of MI5 and MI6.
The New Forest East MP spoke out as the Leave side kick-started its campaign in the New Forest last Saturday with a meeting of 80 activists at the Balmer Lawn Hotel in Brockenhurst, attended by Conservatives south-east MEP Daniel Hannan and Chris Grayling, the Commons Leader. Cross-party campaigners handed out leaflets during a walkabout in Brookley Road, joined by Roy Swales, the defeated UKIP candidate in last Thursday’s Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
In the national debate, Dr Lewis’s first intervention came when he asked the Prime Minister how much the EU had contributed to peace in Europe. Mr Cameron said NATO was the cornerstone of the UK’s defence, but EU membership was a
“vital part of protection our national security”.
Dr Lewis retorted that democracies seldom attacked one another, and questioned whether the EU was
“heading in precisely the wrong direction by trying to create an unelected, supranational Government of Europe that is accountable to nobody”.
Mr Cameron pointed out that the EU promoted democracy by making it a condition of membership, and that leaving could be a risk to
“an unparalleled period of peace and prosperity in Europe”.
Dr Lewis, who chairs the Commons Defence Committee, took up the issue again on Monday in a Daily Telegraph article responding to Sir John Sawers, former head of MI6, and Lord Evans, former Director-General of MI5. They warned in the Sunday Times that the UK leaving the EU could undermine
“our ability to protect ourselves”
“Instability on the Continent”
Was a possible result of Brexit, they wrote, and would worsen current
“economic difficulties, the migration crisis and a resurgent Russia”.
Dr Lewis hit back:
“With its pretensions to a common foreign and defence policy, the EU seeks to duplicate NATO by recreating it without the deterrent power of the Americans. By trying to act as a separate entity on the European stage, the EU resurrects all the old risks of blundering into military confrontations under circumstances where the US may feel free from any obligation to act.”