It is likely that a referendum on the UKs membership of the European Union will take place later this year, with most pundits betting on a September poll.
It is a vote that will take place because the Prime Minister David Cameron was running scared of both his own backbenches and UKIP up until very recently, and this was a panic measure to prevent Tory MPs, and indeed voters, defecting to Nigel Farage’s over hyped mob.
Putting his own position ahead of the nation’s interests is not a particularly noble thing for the PM to do, but he’s not the first politician to put self- interest at the top of his agenda, and he won’t be the last.
That he will be kicking himself now, given his majority Conservative government, the alarmingly quick and highly predictable demise of UKIP and Labour’s selection of Jeremy Corbyn, is beyond doubt. But we are where we are as they say, and Cameron’s task is to persuade the electorate that exiting Europe is not in the best interests of our economy, our security or our place in the world.
Of course there are many reforms that most sane minded people without a personal interest would like the EU to introduce. Why do we have two ‘bases’ for the army of EU bureaucrats, staffers and MEPs – the more permanent one in Brussels, and the official headquarters in Strasbourg? Why do we have so many bureaucrats, staffers and MEPs anyway? And why do these people interfere in some of the most trivial and ridiculous of policy areas when they ought to be focussing on the big global, strategic issues that an organisation of its size and weight should?
However, there are changes that we could equally argue for in many institutions, at home and abroad; throwing the baby out with the bath water is seldom the road to progress on these matters.
The EU does provide a common market, and a fairer, more even playing field for companies who trade across our great continent. It is a major player in and influencer of foreign affairs. It has made movement of European labour and tourists far easier – something that is as bigger advantage to UK passport holders than the Daily Mail would have you believe. And, of course, since the creation of the EU, we have avoided war in mainland Europe.
There are many more pros, and cons, which will be discussed and debated in the run up to the referendum, and recent polls suggest that the ‘No’ campaign has gained some support and momentum since the turn of the year.
Nevertheless, in the end I think instinct will kick in and win the day for the ‘remain’ camp. Jumping into a void, the uncertainty abandoning EU membership will leave our international status and our economy in, are the major factors that, in my opinion, will see David Cameron and his Europhiles be victorious.