“I thought I should come out and say something because I could see you were all in a great mass here and I apologise for being slow in coming down. I know you want to ask my views on Europe, don’t you. Let me tell you where I’ve got to. I have made up my mind.

And I want to stress that this is not about whether you love Europe or not. I love Brussels, I used to live in Brussels, a fantastic city, wonderful place, and I love European culture and civilisation – I consider it to be the greatest civilisation this planet has ever produced and we are all products or most of us are products of that civilisation and it is a fantastic thing.

But there should be no confusion between the wonders of Europe and holidays in Europe and fantastic food and friendships and whatever else you get from Europe with a political project that has basically been going on now for decades, which Britain has been a member of since 1975 and I now think is in real danger of getting out of proper democratic control. That is my view and it’s a view I’ve held for a long time – I’ve written a huge number of articles about it.

And when people talk about sovereignty, it is not something that is possessed by politicians; sovereignty is people’s ability, the ability of the public to control their lives and to make sure the people they elect are able to cast the laws that matter to them. The trouble is with Europe that that is being very greatly eroded and you’re seeing it more and more over employment, over border controls, over human rights, over all sorts of stuff. And you’ve got a supreme judicial body in the European Court of Justice that projects down on this entire 500 million people territory a single unified judicial order from which there is absolutely no recourse and no comebacks. And in my view that has been getting out of control. There’s too much judicial activism, there’s too much legislation coming from the EU.

And so I look at what the Prime Minister achieved the other day and I have to say, I think given the time he had, he did fantastically well. I think everybody should pay tribute to David Cameron for what he pulled off in a very short space of time. But I don’t think anybody could realistically claim that this is fundamental reform of the EU or of Britain’s relationships with the EU.

And it’s my view that after 30 years of writing about this, we have the chance actually to do something, I have a chance actually to do something. I would like a new relationship based more on trade, on cooperation, but as I say with much less of this supranational element.

So that’s where I’m coming from and that’s why I’ve decided after a huge amount of heartache, because I did not wanted to do anything, the last thing I wanted was to go against David Cameron or the Government, but after a great deal of heartache I don’t think there’s anything else I can do: I will be advocating Vote Leave or whatever the team is called – I understand there are many of them – because I want a better deal for the people of this country. To save them money and to take back control, that’s really, I think, what this is all about.

What I won’t do – I just stress – what I won’t do is take part in loads of blooming TV debates against other members of my party. And I heard, or I was told about what the Prime Minister had to say this morning about not sharing platforms with George Galloway and other individuals, I won’t do that either. If I’m asked my views – and you’ve been kind enough to come in considerable numbers to ask my views – I will give my views.”

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