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EU referendum would damage more than it gains

5th July 2012

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David Cameron has refused an in/out referendum because he doesn’t think it’s what the public wants, and he’s right. Britain isn’t sure, we’re all fairly ill-informed, and holding this debate now would do more to worsen the Eurozone crisis than fix it.

I never thought I’d be saying this, but I agree with Cameron. He has, thankfully, ruled out an immediate referendum, which does though, leave the door opens to hold one in the future. While it is vital that the government take an active role in making sure they are acting in the interests and with the backing of the public, now is definitely not the time for a referendum on Europe.

Public outcry to withdraw? What public outcry? Recent polls have been few, and many carried out just by newspapers. And don’t forget, that only 28% of the country voted in the last referendum on the alternative vote – it’s hard to convince anyone that the majority of the country really care about issues such as Europe that might seem big in the political world, but perhaps not to the other 60 million people.

Firstly Cameron is right to say that at the present, the priority should be to deal with the “instability and chaos” which is currently engulfing the continent. The Eurozone is currently being shaken to its very core; weak and damaged in the international markets, credit ratings depleting and debts and bailouts rising. At a time where the future of Europe is uncertain, we should wait to the direction of the country before deciding on anything. Whilst Britain is not a part of the Euro and has less influence over the decisions being taken to stabilise the currency, it is still a member of the European Union and holds a considerable position of influence, and we ought to try not to damage that.

Questioning our position in this situation during such a time of crisis will do more to disrupt the situation. If Britain voted to stay in the EU, it would present a nation uncertain of their commitment to the rebuilding and repairing of the organisation, and a vote to leave would appear we were selfishly jumping ship from Europe during its time of need in order to focus on protecting our own interests. This isolationist policy will do more to harm the Eurozone crisis than to help Britain, and will distance support from other countries during a time that we are in great need of it.

Furthermore, many people are misinformed about Europe. Many Euro-sceptics see the EU as a harsh, costly enforcer of extreme legislation, red tape and over-the-top bureaucracy that restricts our freedom. From regulations on the curvature of bananas to rumours of threats to our British pint, many EU laws are considered to be infringing the freedoms of British citizens. In reality, many of these proposals are hyped up by the media, and many never get passed in Brussels at all. In order to make an informed decision about the true future, Britain’s people need to be more knowledgeable about what Britain’s true position is in Europe. I imagine most people don’t know the detailed trade links within the European Union, the extent of skilled immigration policies, or anything that the European Parliament have debated recently. 

Cameron needs to be careful not to let the squabbles on Europe dominate the 2015 election, as attention on the crisis has dominated the media. Instead, he must present a strong and united front and allow the people the chance to become informed on the real issues in Europe, not permitting them to get bogged down in rumours and hyped up speculation. Now is not the time for another referendum after the wake of the disaster of AV, which no-one was bothered about. It may seem an extremely positive and unrealistic approach, but now is the time to unite together as a continent and sort out the economic crisis. Let’s worry about politics later.

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