“It is widely accepted that the EU requires fundamental reform. Such reform is necessary, not only to realign the EU project with UK interests and public opinion, but also to show that it can adapt to new times and work better for Europe as a whole.
“This is why we initiated the Fresh Start Project in 2011. The aim of the project was to come up with ideas to change the EU for the better, to make it more cost effective, democratic, accountable and open; a club that concentrates on delivering real benefits for its citizens.
“The result of this work was set out in our Green Paper “Options for Change”, and was designed to contribute to and inform a renegotiation that would be in the interests of all EU members.
“The Prime Minister has now come to the end of a hard won renegotiation. It has taken place during a period of great change within Europe, and his own negotiating position was backed up by the certainty of a UK referendum. This gave the best possible chance for change in Europe we are likely to see for a generation.
“So was the EU able to rise to the occasion and show that it is capable of fundamental reform? Now that the ink is dry on the UK’s settlement we have studied the text to see if it fulfils the hopes for reform we had when we began the project.
“Regrettably, the changes on offer fall far short of the opportunities that we identified, with the vast majority of key under-performing EU policy areas unaddressed.
“We began the Fresh Start Project with open minds as to the UK’s membership and with a clear preference for reform over exit. It is still the case that some colleagues who took part in Fresh Start believe the UK is better off remaining inside the EU. However, faced with a choice between an uncertain future in an unreformed EU and the alternative, which is to leave, to trade freely and to set our own laws, we have concluded that it is in the UK’s long term interests to leave.
“In 2011 the Fresh Start Project was formed by over 100 Conservative MPs who shared a vision that fundamental reform of the EU was possible.
“We established an All Party Parliamentary Group for EU Reform which undertook a serious body of research aimed at promoting a renegotiation led by the UK Government. This work included the EU Fresh Start Green Paper: “Options For Change” which considered reforms in 11 policy areas.
“Following the Prime Minister’s commitment to holding an In/Out referendum, we published our “Mandate for Reform” in November 2013, with clear proposals for the reforms we believe would be in our national interest.
“We have set out below Fresh Start’s treaty and non treaty reform proposals, together with our assessment of how the UK settlement as announced by the Prime Minister compares with them.
“Whilst we recognise the huge effort the Prime Minister has put into the renegotiation, we are disappointed that his fellow European leaders did not take this opportunity to make the reforms that Europe so desperately needs. Alas, we do not believe that the deal finally offered by our European partners is one we can support as the basis for our continued membership of the EU.”
Andrea Leadsom MP
Priti Patel MP
Penny Mordaunt MP
George Eustice MP
Dominic Raab MP
Kwasi Kwarteng MP
Chris Heaton Harris MP
Tim Loughton MP
Anne-Marie Morris MP
Karl McCartney MP
Jason McCartney MP
Heather Wheeler MP
Conor Burns MP
Mike Wood MP
Andrew Bingham MP
Nigel Adams MP
Greg Knight MP
James Wharton MP