According to the Tory/UKIP narrative, the only reason that David Cameron isn’t offering an EU referendum is that he’s a closet (or not so closet) europhile. As part of the new elite, he’s bitten completely into the grand European project, hook, line and sinker. His aim is therefore to deny, like those European politicians, his people a say in the project. This makes him (and I’m quoting from various tweets from EU nutters) a Quisling, a traitor, only pretending to be a Tory, not a real conservative and so on.
If only, so the narrative goes, Cameron offered a referendum, people would dance in the streets. We would pull out, and without our Euro-dues flooding to the continent, we would be able to spend the money, invigorating our own economy. India, Australia and Canada would welcome us back with open arms. UKIP would pack up and go home, and the Tories would romp to victory at the next General election.
This is bollocks.
The electorate is broadly hostile to the EU. But they only express that feeling when asked. Even with the Euro-crisis on the nightly news, few venture this as one of their top priorities. If anything the evidence appears to be however much the electorate agree with the Tories, there is a stronger feeling that they wish the Tories would just shut up about Europe.
The straight in/out question lacks the subtlety of both the Electorate’s (and the official Tory) position. That is most people, when given the option, express an opinion supporting a middle way. Not out of the EU entirely, but certainly not part of the core federal project. If the electorate could have the free market at lower cost, and without all the Euro-laws interfering with the extradition of bearded ne’er do wells like Abu Quatada, we’d be OK. The fact that these rulings come down from the ECHR, not the EU is lost on the electorate.
So, are we “better off out”? Possibly, right now. The EU is an unattractive bureaucratic project which has got far, far too big and intrusive for the UK’s comfort. It suffers an absolutely obscene democratic deficit at its core. But, and this is crucial, leaving would be disruptive and not at all helpful to the short-term pressing problems of a flat economy, which should occupy politician’s minds. Asking the Question in 2014, risks the electorate asking back “why now, when you’ve more important things to do?”. Worse, from a Tory perspective, this could re-open the running sore of “splits”. Certainly the other parties will be opening up this old wound.
Leaving the EU is not without cost. The Free market is a benefit, an enormous one, of EU membership. As is often pointed out, the European nation with the most rigorous implementation of EU diktats is Norway, which isn’t a member of the EU, but instead suffers from “government by fax” where it is forced to adopt the measures of the free market, while having no input into their creation. Unpicking the constitutional, legal and economic effects of EU membership is a much bigger question, and will come at much greater cost than the simplistic Eurosceptics would have you believe. The UK, as a vastly more powerful nation than Norway will certainly be able to negotiate better terms than Norway, but I would vote against any “out” proposition which lost the UK free access to the EU’s single market. Leaving is a project for a stable Government with a clear mandate to do so, in good times. Ie. NOT NOW.
The UK has pursued the same foreign policy in respect to the continent since the Plantagenets abandoned the idea of an Anglo-Norman continental empire: If England (later Britain) cannot be the Hegemonic power in Europe, no one shall be. Withdrawal from the EU will cede that hegemonic power to Germany, something nearly two million Britons died in the twentieth century to prevent.
The EU is about to split into a federal core of Eurozone countries while a rump of independent countries, some of whom still say they want to adopt the Euro (but probably won’t) remain in the Free market. Britain can lead this group, ensure the reformed Holy Roman Empire can’t grow too big. With Britain in the Single Market, Poland and the rest of Central Europe may have the confidence to retain their currencies and act as a counterweight to an over mighty Teutonic empire.
Instead the Eurosceptics would rather stand on the white-cliffs of Dover in a Union-Jack tie shaking their fist at the dastardly foreigners over the Channel. We can look back on the summer of 1940, when Britain stood alone with pride. It does not mean we should try to recreate the feeling, especially when we’re about to get what we always wanted from the project. By staying in the EU and undermining its ridiculous march towards “ever closer union” from the inside, The United Kingdom is staying true to nearly a thousand years of consistent foreign policy.
Let’s not abandon that which has served us well for so long.
http://bracken.uk.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/logo-2.png00Malcolm Brackenhttp://bracken.uk.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/logo-2.pngMalcolm Bracken2012-06-08 12:41:002017-07-21 01:43:29An In/Out EU referendum... Not Now.