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TAQSThis is the eighth of fifteen draft Bills in an Alternative Queen's Speech that sets out what a legislative programme might have looked like if a majority Conservative government had been elected. Read more about the initiative here.

When Britain joined the Common Market in 1973 it signed up to a free trade agreement. Since then, the Common Market has become the EU, and the trading bloc has become a superstate in all but name.

As Europe has changed, so has British public opinion. People are uncomfortable with the amount of power the EU now wields. The most recent polls show more than half of voters want Britain to leave the EU altogether.

Without a renegotiation of our relationship with the EU, these transfers of power from Westminster to Brussels are irreversible. The implications for parliamentary sovereignty are severe. It is now necessary to take a proactive rather than just reactive stance to European policy.

First, we need a debate and a referendum on what Britain’s negotiating position should be – the powers we want to repatriate from Brussels, the size of Britain’s contribution to the EU budget, the authority of the European Court of Justice. Second, once a new deal with Europe has been negotiated, voters should be given the last word on whether or not to accept it in final national referendum.

It is in Britain’s interests to maintain healthy relations with our fellow EU Member States. Some are amongst our main trading partners, and EU nations co-operate to good effect on some vital issues – counter-terrorism being one.

But free trade and international cooperation do not require political union. Nor should they lead to it. That’s why it is time to let the British people decide what sort of relationship they want with the EU. Democracy demands it. It is no valid reason to deny the British people their chance to speak simply because you’re afraid of what they might say.

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