Need for pros and cons balance sheet on staying in EU

The letters from Lib Dem councillor Professor Peter Gardiner have been a prominent part of your letters page for some time. It appears that he has now been joined by UKIP’s Professor David Younge. I suspect there are significant political differences between the two professors but what I do expect from people who carry the appellation ‘Professor’ is objectivity and accuracy.

It may surprise Professor Gardiner to know that I think something is happening to our weather. His most recent letter is a cogent reminder of that. In my new position as Lewes District Council’s lead member for Health and Environment I shall wish to support the Rampion wind farm not least because of the potential benefit to Newhaven. Nevertheless, I do not wish this country to base its future on the unproven effectiveness of renewables.

If you contrast their letters you have to accept that while Professor Gardiner endeavours to argue his case, Professor Younge has so far made assertions some of which can be disputed.

A referendum will be held but I hope it will take place on the basis of reason and not emotion.

Leaving the EU is something we can only do once.

It is right that the generations that were either not alive or too young to vote in 1975 should have their say. It is their future.

I do believe that David Cameron has on this issue got it right. Having a referendum now before any negotiations have been held is premature but a timetable must be set to concentrate minds. I suspect anything produced by David Cameron from any negotiation will be unacceptable to Professor Younge but the rest of us are entitled to our own opinions. I rather suspect David Cameron is a better negotiator than any other leader on offer in this country at the moment.

To equate, as Professor Younge does, removal from the EU with leaving as he puts it ‘the dreaded European Court of Human Rights’ is simply inaccurate populist and misleading. That is a different issue and independent of the EU. It is the interpretation of the law which to me is the issue not the concept. A Britain outside the EU will still, I hope, wish to have a body of human rights law unless Professor Younge is against even that. We have to be careful that our aversion to the Labour inspired immigration surge and all that has developed from that does not degenerate into something more sinister. We have for example an honourable tradition of asylum in this country. Was it wrong to accept Ugandan Asians fleeing Idi Amin or Jews fleeing Hitler? Of course not.

I would like to see a balance sheet of pros and cons for EU membership drawn up objectively. Is that too much? The concept of a European Superstate appals me particularly because in 1975 no one voted for that, but if Professor Younge’s letter is what we can expect in advance of the referendum we are in difficulty.

Councillor Tony Nicholson

Conservative Seaford East, Lewes District Council