On 25 February 2014, the European Parliament voted on an EU fund to provide food aid to those suffering extreme poverty in the EU.
The EU offered up to £22 million to help subsidise Britain’s food banks, but the money was blocked by the UK government.
Thirteen million people live below the poverty line in the UK. According to the Trussell Trust, 1 in 5 mums in Britain regularly skip meals to feed their children. [That number is set to rise to sixteen million in 2022/23 as a consequence of government policies and a refusal to act in a meaningful way on energy costs. Ed]
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby called on the Prime Minister David Cameron to reverse the decision to reject EU funds for food banks. (To no avail).
You can read my original blog post from 2014 here.
My view today:
When the Tories came to power in 2010, it was the beginning of the end for Britain’s membership of the EU.
Yes, the Tory government paid lip service to the importance of EU membership, but at the same time, attempted to distance itself from the EU project, saying for example that Britain would never join the Euro (no government can promise something forever).
A year before the 2010 general election, the Tory party left the European People’s Party-European Democrats group in the European Parliament – the biggest and most influential groups of MEPs.
Instead, the Tories created the The European Conservative and Reformist Party (ECR) in the European Parliament – a tiny grouping of Eurosceptic MEPs.
Tory MEP Caroline Jackson said at the time,
“The Tories are doing this because the party is run by people whose ultimate agenda is to pull Britain out of the EU.”
Tory politicians – including Prime Minister David Cameron – took every opportunity to rubbish and ridicule the EU.
The turning down of EU aid to help British food banks in 2014, and later in 2015/2016, the Tory government’s decision not to apply for EU emergency funding to help UK flood victims, demonstrated that Conservatives wanted to sell the message that Britain didn’t need the EU.
But Britain did need the EU. It was just that the Tory government preferred Britons to go hungry, or to suffer from flooding, than to admit we should make use of EU help in times of emergencies.
Tory pride and prejudice led to Brexit.
How Mr Cameron could ever have expected Remain to win the 2016 referendum, when he, his party and government had spent so many years showing contempt for the EU project, is a mystery of our time.
If only Gordon Brown had won the 2010 general election. If only Ed Miliband had won in 2015.
Then Brexit – only offering Britain severe hardships and absolutely no benefits – would not have happened.
The rot started with the Tories. And to end the rot, we must now do our best to remove them from office.
Jon Danzig is a campaigning journalist and film maker who specialises in writing about health, human rights, and Europe. He is also founder of the pro-EU information campaign, Reasons2Rejoin. You can follow Jon Danzig on his Facebook journalism page at www.Facebook.com/JonDanzigWrites