Simon's statement follows:
We are no longer an Imperial Power. We can no longer send a gunboat to brow beat our neighbours into submission. But, we are the world’s 5th largest economy and our membership of the UN Security Council, NATO, The Commonwealth and the EU allow us to have many fingers in many pies. We are the ONLY country with that trading, economic, defence and diplomatic reach.
In spirit I’m sceptical about the EU. It’s too cumbersome and too slow to address some of our most pressing issues. I believe that as a country we could go it alone, outside the EU. But, leaving, or BREXIT, is not without risks and it remains unclear what a non-EU UK would look and feel like. The Prime Minister has fought tirelessly for Britain in Europe. He’s reduced the budget and led the Conservative Party into delivering the referendum to be held on 23rd June. Did the PM get everything he wanted from his negotiations? Of course not. Who does in a negotiation? However, I believe that he has set out a compelling new position not only for the UK in Europe but also, as so often our role has been on the Continent, as a beacon of reform to which other countries will set their course.
We do live in a volatile and changing world. It seems to be that in such times we should be cementing our relations rather than blowing them apart. Our economy is on the mend but we are not out of the woods and a great deal of freetrade is done by Dorset and British business within the EU. That trade is vital.
The Conservative Party is remaining neutral in this referendum and my vote as your MP weighs no heavier than yours. We know that whatever the decision of the Referendum it will be legally binding on Parliament and I will abide by the decision. I shall be voting, after more soul searching on an issue than I have ever had to do before, to remain. I shall not be campaigning or taking to platforms but constituents have asked how I intend to vote and I wanted to let people know as soon as I had taken a decision. I do not believe that how I vote should influence anyone in the Constituency. As I said above, all votes cast are equal.