MP Mark Simmonds’ latest column on his view from Westminster...
This month has been particularly eventful in relation to the UK’s relationship with the EU.
I was delighted to vote for an in/out referendum on the European Union on July 5, at the second reading of the European Union (Referendum) Bill.
This Bill, supported by the Conservative Party, sets the date and question for an in/out referendum and places a legal obligation on the Government to hold one by 2017.
As many of my constituents will be aware I have consistently argued that the British people must be given a say on our Membership of the EU.
Our membership certainly means something entirely different today than it did in 1975 and it is impossible to defend the fact that the overwhelming majority of people in the UK have never had an opportunity to vote on any of the changes that have been implemented.
In addition to this vote, the Home Secretary also announced that the UK will opt out of approximately 130 EU police and criminal justice measures and only seek to re-join measures which are best for Britain.
I firmly believe that it is in our national interest to seek to re-join measures which help us combat cross-border crime and keep our country safe.
In other good news, the Home Secretary has now been successful in deporting Abu Qatada. This dangerous man, whose presence was a threat to Britain, has now been removed from our shores.
I agree with the Home Secretary’s view that ‘the right place for a terrorist is a prison cell. The right place for a foreign terrorist is a foreign prison cell, far away from Britain’.
His departure marks the conclusion of efforts by successive governments to remove him since 2001.
The Home Secretary also made clear that we need to make sense of our human rights laws and remove the many options for appeal that are available to foreign nationals. I support the Government’s steps, including through the new Immigration Bill, to resolve this issue.