It is time to have the self-confidence to break free

Pretty much everyone now agrees that the upsides and downsides of mass immigration are unevenly shared across communities. Broadly, the rich and powerful get to snaffle most of the upsides - especially large corporations looking for unlimited cheap labour.

Meanwhile, public sector infrastructure and the less well-off suffer most of the downsides. Vital services like schools and hospitals are put under strain, the availability of housing is further reduced, community cohesion in working-class areas suffers, wages for the lower-paid are pushed further down.

The latest migration statistics show this problem is not going away, but is in fact getting worse. I have been elected twice now on a platform of reducing net migration to the tens of thousands, and I want to make sure we have the ability to meet our promises.

The blunt truth is that the Remain side will not admit is this: there is no chance whatever of meeting or even getting close to this target while Britain is in the EU and constrained by its free movement rules.

Net migration of 330,000 - a million every three years - with more than half now coming from the EU, is putting tremendous strain on many communities and impacting on their quality of life.

The answer to the famous Gillian Duffy question that so enraged Gordon Brown in the 2010 election campaign - “Where are they all flocking from?" - is increasingly the EU. That means not just people from the low-wage economies of eastern Europe, but also those from high-unemployment countries in southern Europe where the prospects for young people finding jobs have been wrecked by the euro.

Any new flare-up of the eurozone’s problems, particularly if it spreads to a major economy like Italy where the banking system is in serious difficulty, is likely to lead to another upsurge in migration as people head for Britain, which is one of the few places in Europe where there is a plentiful supply of jobs. The new National Living Wage, a landmark achievement of this government, will rise to around £9 by 2020, creating a further pull factor if we do not regain control over our borders.

This is not fair on hardworking, community-minded British people. We need to take back control so that we can devise a fair and sensible immigration policy that works for Britain and judges every applicant on what they can contribute to our economy. This will also mean creating a level playing field that no longer discriminates against people from the Commonwealth and the rest of the world outside the EU.

The EU's freedom of movement requirement is putting an intolerable strain on our country and making us less safe too. The European Court of Justice is becoming ever more meddling: we can't even refuse entry to people suspected of terrorist links now unless we disclose the reasons – even if that endangers national security.

With the public finances still under immense pressure it is simply indefensible to be sending £350 million to Brussels every week when we could be using that money to finance our own national priorities such as the NHS.

Additionally, the economic benefits of leaving are real despite the well-choreographed onslaught from much of the global corporate establishment. The 19 in 20 businesses in Britain that do not export to the EU can be freed from future waves of regulation, while we can rationalise the unnecessary red tape that is holding back businesses now.

We would also win back the right to negotiate our own free-trade deals with the world’s biggest economies and the growth markets of the future, from Asia to Latin America. The EU is hamstrung in trying to represent 28 member states by protectionism and special interests. It does not magnify our influence. It holds us back from taking advantage of global opportunities. Take the EU negotiations with Latin America over free trade. The government estimates that deal is worth a potential £2.5 billion to the UK economy every year. But, we cannot take advantage of the extra jobs and cheaper prices that would follow, because French farmers have a veto.

Perhaps that is why a country like Switzerland has been so much more successful in reaching trade agreements across the world than the EU has been. Britain’s economy is four times bigger than Switzerland, so we would do even better.

Over the last few weeks, you would be forgiven for thinking the Remain camp sees Britain as a lost cause, telling the country: you are not good enough, you won't have any money, you won't have any friends, nobody will want to know you if you leave.

That is nonsense. Britain is the fifth biggest economy in the world. We have the fifth biggest defence budget. We were the birthplace of liberal democracy and the industrial revolution. We have the language of international commerce, and from innovation to the arts we are world leaders. Our best days lie ahead. But, if we are to realise our full potential for the next generation, we must be masters of our own destiny. It is time to have the self-confidence to break free of this declining, bureaucratic, protectionist, undemocratic organisation. That’s the choice on 23rd June. Vote Leave, take control.

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