EU-exit campaign group 'Grassroots Out' is launched

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Tory MP Peter Bone (L) and Tom Pursglove MP join UKIP leader Nigel Farage in "The Little Ale House", in Wellingborough ahead of launch of Grassroots Out campaignImage source, AFP

A new cross-party group that will campaign for the UK to leave the European Union has been launched.

Grassroots Out is supported by UKIP leader Nigel Farage, Labour MP Kate Hoey and Conservative ex-minister Liam Fox, among other politicians.

At the launch in Northamptonshire Mr Farage said they were not against Europe but against the political union.

The Vote Leave and Leave.EU campaigns are already competing to become the official "out" voice in the referendum.

The prime minister, who wants the UK to stay within a "reformed" EU, is pushing to renegotiate Britain's terms of membership ahead of an in/out referendum by the end of 2017.

If agreement with other EU leaders is reached next month, a vote could potentially be held as early as June.

Of those aiming to become the referendum's official "out" voice, the group that comes out on top will enjoy significant advantages.

These include higher spending limits, campaign broadcasts, free mail shots and public funding of up to £600,000.

Commitment to exit

Two thousand people attended the Grassroots Out launch in Kettering.

Former defence secretary Mr Fox, whose membership of the group was unveiled at the event, said: "If you cannot make your own laws or control your own borders you are not an independent sovereign nation."

He added: "It is time to look forwards and outwards... It is time to take control of our own destiny."

Last week saw the launch of Conservatives for Reform in Europe, a new pro-European Conservative campaign group led by former minister Nick Herbert, which will argue the case for the UK to stay in the EU under renegotiated terms.

PM David Cameron has said ministers will be free to campaign on either side ahead of the referendum, but he has also warned that they must treat each other with "appropriate respect and courtesy".

Ms Hoey said she hoped the Labour shadow cabinet would also be free to choose and that she hoped some of "top leadership" of the party would also vote to leave Europe.

What Cameron wants from the EU

Image source, Reuters

The UK is to have a referendum by the end of 2017 on whether to remain a member of the European Union or to leave. The vote is being preceded by a process of negotiations in which the Conservative government wants to secure a new deal for the UK including:

  • Integration: Allowing Britain to opt out from the EU's founding ambition to forge an "ever closer union" of the peoples of Europe so it will not be drawn into further political integration
  • Benefits: Restricting access to in-work and out-of-work benefits to EU migrants. Specifically, ministers want to stop those coming to the UK from claiming certain benefits and housing until they have been resident for four years
  • Sovereignty: Giving greater powers to national parliaments to block EU legislation. The UK supports a "red card" system allowing member states to scrap, as well as veto, unwanted directives
  • Eurozone v the rest: Securing an explicit recognition that the euro is not the only currency of the European Union, to ensure countries outside the eurozone are not disadvantaged. The UK also wants safeguards that it will not have to contribute to eurozone bailouts