February 18, 2016 by Paul Goldsmith
The EU referendum isn’t going to be about the non-existent ‘reforms’ to the EU, nor should you believe those who claim they can tell you what would happen if the UK leaves. Instead, it comes down to two simple questions, both about principles.
So there we have it. The EU referendum date has been set for the 23rd of June. There is no way around it, we are, as the question states, either going to remain in the European Union or leave it. No matter what you think about the debate now, you should make no mistake that this is a very important choice for the UK as a country, and both results could have some enormous political ramifications – if not quite economic ones.
Over the next few months the campaign, tightly regulated though it is supposed to be, will see a lot of mis-information as well as information coming your way. Statistics will be carefully selected to suit an already formed view, and echoes will ring around the chambers consisting of those who made up their mind a long time ago. The truth is though that about a third of the population could vote either way (and I am one of them), so it’s important that there are places where both sides of the argument are presented as impartially as possible.
Here is a start. Here is what you are NOT going to get if you vote REMAIN or LEAVE:
If you vote to remain in the EU you will not be voting to remain in a ‘reformed’ EU in any shape or form. The treaty changes that David Cameron promised in his Bloomberg Speech in 2013, in which he promised to hold this referendum by the end of 2013, were never going to happen, for reasons I will explain over a following set of blogs I am going to write on the history of the European Union and how we ended up where we are now. Instead, Cameron came up with what at very best could be called, as Jacob Rees-Mogg did, ‘thin gruel’, and at worst are a political con trick on the public in the hope that we in the UK are so credulous and incurious that we buy whatever we are told by our leaders.
If you vote to leave the EU, no-one, and I mean no-one, can tell you right now what will actually happen to the UK. If you are told that it won’t affect trade, the truth is that we simply don’t know until the new trade deals that would be required are agreed. If you are told that it means we can completely control migration, the truth is that we simply don’t know that until the freedom of movement of worker laws are agreed if we are leaving, and don’t forget (as the leave campaign often do) that the movement is out of the UK as well as into it. If you are told that we are going to completely regain sovereignty over the making and implementing of our laws, the truth is that as part of the trade deal we make we may not be able to repatriate all our sovereignty. If you are told that we wouldn’t have to pay anything into the EU budget anymore (and today the Leave campaign were really scraping the barrel by comparing the £365m we pay to that budget a week to what we spend on cancer treatments), the truth is that as part of what we agree in the future we may need to still pay towards the institutions that make those agreements work.
What should have happened is that David Cameron should have said in his Bloomberg Speech that what the UK voted for in the 1975 EU referendum has changed massively. Then it was to be part of a Common Market. Now there is the Euro, the loss of sovereignty in many areas we didn’t realise, and Globalisation has left us exposed to massive migration flows that no-one foresaw. So the right thing to do was to hold a referendum on whether we want to be part of the EU. That’s it. No pretence that it could be changed whilst we were still in it. Just whether we want to be part of it, and then, had we stayed in, Cameron could have had longer to work on any reforms he wanted.
The truth is that the ONLY way we will get significant reforms of the EU is by voting to LEAVE. That would trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which is a two year process during which ACTUAL renegotiation would have to take place. The trade deal, the freedom of movement of workers, sovereignty over laws and regulations and our contribution to the UK budget would be renegotiated and THEN we would have something to vote on. The new treaty, between the EU and the U.K., would need to be voted on again, and the public would rightly demand to vote on it in another referendum. Yes. The only way to actually change the EU is for a major member to actually vote to leave it. That would shake the other countries out of their complacency in a way that would cause many of their leaders to sigh with relief that at least one country took the risk needed for that to happen.
As for me, my choice of how to vote comes down to two questions. Firstly, if the UK weren’t in the EU, would I vote to join it in its present condition? Secondly, if the UK votes to leave the EU, what are the problems that would actually be solved?
What do you think?