Repatriating powers from the EU to Britain 'will bring millions to Westcountry'
Devon and Cornwall would get tens of millions of pounds extra to boost jobs and regeneration if Britain repatriated powers from the European Union, some Tory MPs have claimed.
The Fresh Start Project, a group of Conservative backbenchers, yesterday published a "manifesto" for a new settlement for the UK in Europe ahead of David Cameron's much-hyped Netherlands speech on the changing relationship with Brussels.
The Manifesto for Change, backed by Tory MPs from across the Westcountry, wants to end Britain being a net contributor to a funding pot dished out to the poorest corners of the continent.
By taking control of so-called "structural funds" within Britain, an extra £4.2 billion would be available to lavish on the worst-off UK regions. The Open Europe think-tank last year said Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly would get £207 million more over seven years than at present, and Devon £36 million extra.
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The manifesto also says agricultural policy should be returned to member states – ending British taxpayers' underwriting French farmers – and allow the national government to award subsidies to their farmers. It goes on to say the UK should negotiate to regain control of Britain's territorial waters, and complete the process of regionalising control of fisheries.
The Fresh Start Project is fronted by Mr Cameron's former aide George Eustice, the MP for Camborne and Redruth in Cornwall.
He said: "Cornwall could receive more financial support if the dead weight costs of EU administration were removed and our farming and fishing industries would benefit from policies which are tailored to our own needs.
"It would still be possible to have common objectives at an EU level on things like environmental sustainability and food security but there should be much more control to national governments so they can set the policies that actually deliver those objectives."
The Prime Minister is expected to offer a referendum on re-negotiation after the 2015 general election.
Labour leader Ed Miliband yesterday accused Mr Cameron of "losing control" of his own party over the EU.
Former farmer Neil Parish, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said a new farming policy should free up highly productive farms on food and help upland and moorland areas with greater conservation and livestock production. "The Common Agriculture Policy is far too much one-size," he said.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg this week said talk of re-negotiation would have a "chilling effect" on British jobs.
But Sarah Wollaston, Conservative MP for Totnes, said: "Unless the EU knows the Conservative Party position is very clear, that we expect there to be a referendum on repatriating powers, then we will not be taken seriously."