|What if we did leave the EU?|
Later this week we should find out if the referendum will be held later this year with the predicted date 23rd June, rewind back to May and the promise of a referendum by David Cameron if he won the general election, not only that he promised he would renegotiate the UK’s terms. On Thursday he will sit down with the European council and discuss the terms that he feels need addressing, hoping to really hold the EU to account and improve what needs to be improving, however what are the terms and are they just cosmetic?The main points that David Cameron is taking to the table are:
· Economic Governance - Securing an explicit recognition that the euro is not the only currency of the European Union, to ensure countries outside the eurozone are not materially disadvantaged. The UK wants safeguards that steps to further financial union cannot be imposed on non-eurozone members and the UK will not have to contribute to eurozone bailouts
· Competitiveness - Setting a target for the reduction of the "burden" of excessive regulation and extending the single market
· Immigration - Restricting access to in-work and out-of-work benefits to EU migrants. Specifically, ministers want to stop those coming to the UK from claiming certain benefits until they have been resident for four years. Ministers have reportedly been warned by the UK's top civil servant this could be discriminatory and any limits may be reduced to less than a year. An option of an "emergency brake" to stop the payments for four years is being discussed as a compromise deal
· Sovereignty - Allowing Britain to opt out from the EU's founding ambition to forge an "ever closer union" of the peoples of Europe so it will not be drawn into further political integration. Giving greater powers to national parliaments to block EU legislation.
The issue with all of these is that they don’t make a large impact on our own parliament and the decisions they can make, the issue of immigration that is often branded by most right-wing activists is play on basic fears of society and they are already heavily restricted in what they can get, only 2.5 per cent of immigrants claim benefits which is 69,000 people and that is the same proportion of UK residents who have moved into Europe. Competitiveness is needed and the single market of Europe is vital to our economic sustainability, however the proposals don’t dig deep enough into the regulation that is ingrained into the EU as it stands, it is a weak argument that is a nice sound bite when speaks publically or when it is reported.Both economic governance and sovereignty seem to push towards the UK being very segregated from the EU, of course there needs to be some changes however the ones that Cameron proposes seem to head towards a divided EU, when more than ever the nations need to work together, whether it is to tackle climate change or the current refugee crisis, a divided EU with 28 nations serving their own purposes puts many lives at risk.
Pressure from trade unions demanding changes to the EU’s social policy, maximum 48-hour working week, agency workers, maternity leave and non-discrimination rules have been largely left with less emphasis on this from David Cameron. Instead the Tories will try are repeal the human rights act and replace it with a British bill of rights act, which is worrying because a lot of protection that the British public have are written into that law, whereas the new bill could be written to suit those who are already in power and using the fears of the public to force it through.
The changes that he proposes to the EU are largely cosmetic and will probably be able to negotiate with them, the only sticky issue is the restriction of benefits placed on immigrants as Jean-Claude Juncker’s spokesperson said they could be “highly problematic” as they affected the “fundamental freedoms of our internal market” and amounted to “direct discrimination between EU citizens”David Cameron has scheduled a cabinet meeting on Friday if a deal is secured with the EU which means the gag would be lifted, and that will allow MPs to talk about referendum, there is a strong likelihood that this will happen which would mean that the referendum will take place this year and the date that has been cited is the 23rd June, preparations would have already begun on both sides of the argument particularly the anti-EU side has been vocal for a number of years now, usually playing on fear and emotion whilst using ‘facts’ that have either been made up or taken out of context.
(BBC, 2016). However, he did
also say that they are willing to negotiate with the Prime Minister in securing
a fair deal for the UK so that the EU can move forward.
The campaigners will be preparing their next moves, everyone will be planning on how to sway those voters that are undecided and the streets will be a political battleground as well as every news outlet, social media and conversation between friends. This a monumental decision that everyone should vote for because this about all of our futures, those who find disillusionment from our current party politics should not think of this as party politics but something the entire country faces regardless of party affiliation.
BBC. (2016, February 1). BBC Q&A: What Britain wants from Europe. Retrieved from BBC News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32695399