The United Kingdom has always had a troubled relationship with the European Union (and, before that, its predecessor: the European Communities). In 1990, Margaret Thatcher was ousted from power because of deep divisions within her party over European policy, whilst her successor, John Major, never fully recovered from ‘Black Wednesday’ and the UK’s forced ejection from the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) in 1992. Even Tony Blair, widely seen as a strongly pro-EU Prime Minister, failed to take his country into the single currency. Yet, despite grumblings from both sides of the Channel, never has ‘Perfidious Albion’ seemed quite as close to falling out of the EU as it does today.

Senior Tory politicians are coming under increasing pressure from back-benchers to take a harder public line on the EU. In June, British Prime Minister David Cameron made it clear he was ‘not against referendums on Europe’, whilst the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, told the BBC that there was a ‘powerful case’ for an EU referendum. The former Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, went so far as to argue that ‘life outside the EU holds no terror’ for the UK. Even senior Labour figures (including former EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson) are starting to suggest a referendum on continued British membership of the EU might be inevitable.

In the past, we’ve looked at the question of whether the UK should renegotiate powers from the EU (and whether now, with the EU in crisis, is really the right time to do so). We’ve also looked at whether we need referendums on EU membership in other countries. However, over the next few weeks we’re going to be looking in-depth specifically at the UK’s evolving relationship with the EU and, in particular, debating the issue of an EU referendum.

We’ll be looking at the previous experience of referendums in the UK (including the 2011 referendum on the Alternative Vote) and discussing the next likely referendum (the referendum on Scottish independence, which we covered in a previous post here). We hope to interview activists, politicians and commentators from all sides of the debate, and publish their views here for you to comment on.

To kick things off, though, we’ll start by taking a look at the view from outside Blighty. We interviewed Leif Pagrotsky, who was Swedish Minister for Trade (1997-2004) and Minister for Education and Culture (2004-2006). We put a question to him that was sent in from Hari, asking whether it might actually be better for the rest of Europe if the UK finally decided to leave the club:

The UK is a very serious political constraint to the EU project and ever closer union. I think it’d be a net gain for the EU if the UK chose to get out. Opt-out clauses meted out to the UK have not only undermined community objectives, but the UK has worked very closely with Sweden and Denmark to undermine greater fiscal authority of the EU. This will end when the UK gets out of the EU.

As a former Swedish minister (from a country that Hari argues was working with the UK to ‘undermine greater fiscal authority’) how would Mr Pagrotsky respond?

I think the EU is a European project and it should recognise the right of all European peoples to decide what’s in their interests and if they want to participate or not. And maybe the problem was that monetary union started without broad popular support all over the European Union. The time was perhaps not mature, and it became too big, and the construction of the monetary union was not well thought through… 

We also had some comments for Mr Pagrotsky about the eurozone crisis in general. Gerry, for example, argued that ‘France and Germany should stop hiding behind the British Euro-sceptic stance‘ and start working towards closer monetary, economic and political integration. Michael, meanwhile, added that Germany and France need to make up their minds whether they want the ‘weaker’ European economies to remain in the eurozone and, if they do want them to stay in, then they should be supporting them through all available means.

In the case of Greece, it seems like [fiscal] tightening alone not only did not solve the problem, but perhaps it even aggravated some parts of the problem. A tightening of the budget, which has enormous implications for domestic demand, must be accompanied by measures that promote growth as well… If they don’t want Greece in, they should say so and then they should facilitate whatever solution they would prefer. If they prefer that Greece leaves, then they should also participate in the solution so that Greece could have a new start outside of the eurozone. But, to be honest, I don’t believe they want Greece to leave; I don’t think they want to expel Greece. I think they want to use this as a kind of threat to make the Greek politicians and the Greek people work harder to solve their own problems.

Finally, Craig argues that the “policy of half-hearted ECB/Council bailouts has thus far led to recession and concurrently lower revenue/worse debt-to-GDP ratios.” How would you respond?

I too think that the fact that European decision-makers – primarily the European Council – have reacted behind-the-curve, only when the situation has become very, very bad [and] have very rarely acted ahead of events […] has meant that the recession has been deeper, unemployment higher and the crisis prolonged compared to a more resolute and active management of the crisis from the start.

What do YOU think? Is it time for an EU referendum in the UK? Would the UK be better off out, and would the other member-states be rid of a reluctant partner that is more trouble than it’s worth? Or would a break-up just accelerate Europe’s relative decline? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

71 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    Well give them the bloody referendum… Most likely will in favor of leaving the EU… Grant them their wish, let them see how it is to be on the outside and then perhaps let hem reconsider..But the Brits being Brits, I trust that even when they are about to leave they are going to make a huge fuss and mess out of it, and in the end we are going to have to deal with them half way in half way out! In other words nothing will change!! Typical British attitude! And I totally agree about what Mr. Leif Pagrotsky, is saying about Europe’s stance towards Greece.. But their attitude is not working, it only makes it worse… They’ve only managed to aggravate the Greeks, and from a pro-European nation they turned them into a euro-sceptic one!! They’ve also helped in the rise of far right and far left elements in the country, that will make the future cooperation between Greece and the EU more difficult.. If they wanted to make the Greeks “work harder” they only had to help them get rid off this political elite that they helped establish all those decades, and invest in Greece by creating industries… Not impoverish the nation and turn it against any EU institutions..!! How stupid is that?

  2. avatar
    Phoenix One UK

    I had been involved within such debates for years, and even supplied links to European Commission and EU themselves to support the content of my arguments.

    The following is copy of article I wrote that is still on-going:

    Saturday, 30 July 2011

    Defending the UK right to Self Rule from the EU

    By Phoenix One UK

    Who should hold the ultimate power?

    The British people elected its government to govern the UK not surrender powers – in whole or part – to any foreign power, including the EU. No government possessed a mandate from the people to relinquish any part of United Kingdom’s sovereignty, a sovereign nation that belongs to its people not any government.

    Parliament derives its power from the people. Not even the Crown can dissolve Parliament without the consent of Parliament, and Parliament consists of elected representatives of the people. When Parliament consents to the Crown dissolving Parliament it is actually the people consenting to dissolving Parliament. Note Parliament is dissolved prior to every General Election.

    Throughout many debates, and not just on the European Union, the people have very clearly expressed their non-confidence in the Government and Politicians elected into office. The reasons for such non-confidence are numerous, but one stands above all. Members of Parliament had exceeded their authority and abused the powers entrusted them by the people.

    Depriving the people of referendum on European Union is a breach of Government mandate. The act did not possess the consent of the people with all treaties signed with European Union by government without such a referendum or mandate lacking legitimacy. Europhiles often respond here stating the British people gave such a mandate in the 1975 referendum. Not so. Nowhere within the 1975 referendum was it even implied that the United Kingdom would surrender any political powers to the European Union. The European & Community Act 1972 enforces that point. The referendum was on trade with Europe not political rule from Europe either in whole or part.

    Parliament is the voice of the people where candidates campaigned to be the voice their constituents. Members of Parliament were elected for that purpose, to be their voice. No MP possessed a mandate to abuse elected powers and deprive the people of that voice. Visit for entire list of MP’s who voted to deprive the British people of their voice on Lisbon Treaty for a perfect example.

    No government hold the ultimate power in United Kingdom. That changed the moment the people acquired the right to vote. A right – that of itself – was fought and paid for in blood. Every MP without exception derives their power from the people, including the Prime Minister. Not one would be where they are without a mandate from the people. Parliament is more than just a building, it is the voice of the people. If the people are being deprived of their voice, it is because they allowed elected MPs to deprive them of that voice. Consider the 2010 General Election. When in the UK’s entire history have the leaders of major parties ever consented to debating on national television before the entire nation? Why did they do this? They needed your vote. They were desperate for your vote. They wanted to govern. They wanted your mandate to dictate policy. The political parties are at your mercy and have been for a long time. You, the people, decide the ultimate fate and direction of the country. You, the people, hold the ultimate power.

    What of EU Parliament? The people elect Members of the European Parliament (MEP), but MEP’s possess few powers. Even here one must also remember the EU comprises of 27 member states, and all have MEPs in EU Parliament. The UK can be outvoted in EU Parliament and had been more than once, and that is on the few issues were the UK does have a say. The real power rest with EU Commissionaires, not one of which are elected by the people. Here, the ultimate power rests with Commissionaires.

    Which Parliament would you prefer? One where the ultimate power rests with the people, or one where the ultimate powers rest with the Commissionaires. Only the first qualifies as a democracy.

    The people possess the power to change the policies of UK governments (often referred to as u-turns). How often have you seen political parties and/or governments do just that in response to the people standing up to be heard? Try doing that with the EU Parliament.

    Note the EU is a national problem, which does not necessarily mean you have to vote for an anti-EU party to be rid of it. There are now over 100 MP’s (cross-party) in Parliament that are pushing to give the British people an EU in/out referendum. If you have loyalties to particular party, then at least vote for a candidate that supports giving the British people an EU in/out referendum.

    Winston Churchill

    On occasion Europhiles refer to Winston Churchill stating he wanted Britain in a united Europe, implying he would approve of Britain’s involvement with EU. A Europhile did the same within the UK debating forum a few days ago, but are they right?

    Churchill’s view is crystal clear in one of his most famous quotations:

    “We have our own dream and our own task. We are with Europe but not of it. We are linked but not combined. We are interested and associated but not absorbed. And should European statesmen address us in the words that were used of old, ‘Shall I speak for thee to the King or the Captain of the Host?’, we should reply with the Shunamite woman ‘Nay sir, for we dwell among our own people'”.

    Our relationship with the EU betrays those very words. Winston Churchill would not approve of our current relationship with European Union, and his very words clearly show he too would have been a Eurosceptic and opposed to EU.

    Open borders, the euro and austerity

    The EU’s open border policy has played havoc and social problems for a number of EU member states, many of which made headlines in Germany, France, Italy, Ireland and UK. Rather than go into the social ramifications of the EU’s open border policy, I will refer you to an article entitled “The Folly of Mass Immigration” at http://www.democracymovement,, which is the best analysis of the problem that I have ever read on the subject.

    The Euro had been destined for failure since its inception. It is a 17 nation currency strait-jacket that lacks any flexibility to adjust for real economic movements. It has stripped away the independence of sovereign nations within by eliminating any form of monetary policy, meaning that each Eurozone member state has no ability to shift its money supply due to economic events, which the Eurozone crisis clearly demonstrates to extent of seeing an increase in populism, nationalism, and radicalism across the Eurozone.

    Note if Greece leaves the Euro and restructures its debts, the German banks would be in deep trouble. Hence, the German banks prefer their government keep Greece on life support. Should Greece leave the Eurozone, the German government could suddenly find itself propping up its own banks, and the same can be said for France.

    The euro crisis has not gone away, and attempts to halt the contagion to Spain and Italy has not been halted. Both remain at risk. Europhiles have fuelled activities to centre on national governments and even the credit rating agencies. This phase is called the blame game. Yet we see Spanish protesters marching on Brussels gathering citizens from other member states en-route. There was yet another site in Dublin Ireland that clearly display Irish protesters will be joining the Spanish column outside the EU Brussels Parliament on 15 October. For all those Europhiles who continue to push the argument that these protesters are protesting against their own governments not EU, the obvious question is, why are they marching on Brussels?

    The UK does not need the EU

    The UK does not need the EU for trade or anything else and never did. The UK possesses one of the most externalised economies in the world. Britain is the world’s second biggest global investor and trades on a global scale.

    The Europhiles tell us that our biggest trading partner is the EU, and our largest export market within the EU is Ireland. Consider this. The UK possesses a population of over 60 million people where Ireland possesses a population of 4.4 million people. This, we are told, is our largest export market in EU. Hence, if you accept that argument you must also accept Ireland is in deep financial trouble to extent of being bailed out by the ECB and IMF. Ireland’s credit rating is JUNK, Further, severe austerity measures had been imposed on Ireland with the Irish people struggling to survive. Cuts have been made across the board, and they possess little money to spend. What does this tell you about our so-called largest export market in the EU?

    The UK possesses one of the largest economies in the world. It is in the G8, the OECD, the WTO, the World Bank, and the UN Security Council. We are leading members of NATO and of the Commonwealth, which of itself comprises of 54 members. The UK possesses a unique and powerful transatlantic bond. None of which required the UK to surrender its sovereignty in whole or part. The idea that without the EU the UK would be isolated is not just wrong. It is absurd.

    The fear mongering by Europhiles that trade would suffer if the UK withdrew from the EU is not only false, it too is absurd. The EU is also a signatory to the WTO, and it would be illegal under WTO trade law to hinder or cease trade with any nation regardless of whether it were a member state of the EU or not. The EU also relies heavily on WTO trade law to settle trade disputes, and the idea that UK withdraw from EU would affect trade is totally absurd and without merit. Add to this that the UK imports far more from the EU than it exports, and the absurdity of such a claim becomes even more self apparent.


    The UK possesses many problems, as does any nation on the planet. Relinquishing control to any foreign power, especially the EU, would not resolve such problems, they would add to them.

    As long as we retain control of our own voice in Parliament we have a say in the fate and direction of our country, the UK. Surrender political control to the EU, and you also surrender your voice.

    • avatar
      Vicente Tavares

      I have been always a supporter of the right of each People to choose their own destiny. If the Brits do not feel comfortable with the idea of an united Europe, why they don’t leave once for all? Their Governments have the duty to organize a referendum so the British People can choose. In the end, after all, De Gaulle was right when he blocked the entry of UK in the old EEC. He knew, the British candidacy was not sincere. UK is only a member to destroy the European integration so the mainland countries would not get stronger than them.

  3. avatar
    Peter Schellinck

    Up till now in the UK there has been little consistency in the use of referendums in spite of being part of the UK’s democratic and constitutional framework. They have taken place on an ad hoc basis, frequently as a tactical device rather than on the basis of constitutional principle. Unlike in Switzerland, where a long tradition of holding referendums exist and the process being part of the social fabric.

    The project Europe is a fact and the UK is a firm partner in the process. Rather then throwing away the baby with the bathwater, one should focus on taking up the commitment with the badly needed responsibility. The knowledge about the EU integration treaty and the trust in the current government are the two main drivers that will influence any referendum should it take place, which it shouldn’t.

    People are more likely to rely on their own convictions and less likely to follow the recommendations of national elites. The diagnostic value of information that influences how well citizens are able to cope with policy choices determines the difference between Eurosceptic and Eurofriendly voters. Due to lack of political courage and a clear vision any such diagnostics will distort the future outcome.

    Hence, the present looming political crisis is likely to have long-term effects. Together with the lack of properly informed citizens this will lead to a negative outcome of any UK referendum. The ground for institutionalizing a new division in Europe paradoxically reemerges in the process of its reunification. As a consequence the logic of integration would be interrupted. The decline in cohesiveness and policy consistence among the EU institutions has a potentially disruptive effect for all acceding and candidate countries.

    The image of a political system whose trust is in decline diminishes other EU-oriented strategies for the democratization of the European entity. A negative outcome would be because many members of the public get the impression that, although we attach conditions to a country’s accession, we do not ourselves take those conditions seriously. That is why the enlargement process has got completely out of hand.

    On the other hand the economic crises could amplify a positive effect of EU treaty knowledge. Only well informed citizens understand the benefits of collective insurance, whereas substantial concessions in regard to national sovereignty reduce the positive effects of treaty knowledge and trust in government. Even poorly informed and distrusting citizens value the substantial concessions that other states have made.

    The absence of clear procedures for deliberative governance creates conditions for replacing the European agenda with domestic politics. First show that the project Europe can work and no referendums will be needed.

  4. avatar
    Nikolai Holmov

    If we are to have democracy at the heart of national and EU politics, then if the UK voters want a referendum on remaining in the EU then they should have one. That is democracy.

    However the UK will not be the only problem if a referendum is granted, let alone whether it leaves or not). How many national governments face nationalist parties in strong positions? If the UK did hold a referendum and leave, how long before other national governments would be forced to do the same by a public egged on by some very strong nationalist parties across the EU?

    Would Denmark, Finland, The Netherlands etc stay? Would Spain or Portugal? When one leaves, how many others will either happily leave once the precedent has been set, or be forced to leave by national public will?

    I suspect many in the European Commission would have serious concerns if the edges start to fray when it comes to membership.

    One also suspects that as the UK is currently still a net giver rather than net receiver when it comes to the financing of the EU machinery, the sudden departure of the UK funds (if not the UK itself) from the grand scheme of EU financial shenanigans would not be overly welcomes right now.

    To look at the UK in isolation when it comes to leaving the EU maybe a very narrow focus as precedents have a habit of being repeated.

    If they UK went, it would only be a matter of time before others followed.

    • avatar
      Vicente Tavares

      All Peoples have the right to choose their own destiny. If the British people wants to leave and express their wish democratically, they should go. If other countries want to follow the example, one only have to ask what’s wrong with the EU that makes members willing to leave? Although I have been a strong supporter of the idea of an United Europe, I am not sure on actual light if my country was not better off the EU and have only a light association. Some countries are killing the idea of an United Europe and only pursue their own interests.

  5. avatar
    Clive A. Marshall-Purves

    It is imperative that the UK remains in the EU.
    We need a federal state of Europe so we can stand up to the US.
    And I’m a Royalist as well as a Federalist

    • avatar
      Ian Ward

      I agree wholeheartedly. This wholly reflects my position. I am fed up with the lack of balance in the various forms of media within the UK, which constantly try to undermine Britain’s position vis a vis the EU. Only negative reporting makes the headlines with simplistic (and often imbalanced) reporting to encourage anti european sentiment. As most of the private media in the the UK is controlled by non european owners it is unsurprising that there is an agenda to prevent a strong bonding of the UK with the rest of Europe, as this would make for a stronger partnership to stand up to other blocks such as the USA. No referendum could be fair without balanced and impartial reporting of issues to enable voters to decide based on accurate facts.

      Aside from the rather tired arguement about sovereignty, which shows the lack of willingness of some to work in partnership with others for the greater good, the main moan by the anti europeans seems to be that the UK pays more financially into the EU than it receives back. It fails to recognise the less tangible rewards of trade, etc, which cannot readily be measured in a balance sheet form. Indeed, if we take this attitude into the area of personal finances, if we expect to get back an equal amount or more than we spend on the likes of insurance, charitable donations and club memberships the anti european view would mean that most people wouldn’t buy insurance, give to charities or join together with like minded people in clubs and organisations. The consequences of which don’t really need to be spelt out and we would live in a very disfunctional society.

      Britain has to stop looking back at a (mythical?) past when it could stand alone and start looking to the future and learning how to work in partnership with others, thereby giving it more strength and influence in the shaping of the world.

    • avatar

      all very nice unless like me your family is in a dire finantial situation , and my country is spend money building roads in Spain . I must put my family first , I take it from your comment you would not ,,,shame on you

  6. avatar
    Andrea Mekame-mbore Mba Piguet

    C’est une alternative en perspectve concluante de bcp de bonne chose.Mais la Suisse alors? Angleterre et la Suisse ont une puissance que nous lui connaissons.REFORMEZ LA PLANETE!

  7. avatar
    Samo Košmrlj

    uk should definitely stay in the eu. although they still believe in their (long lost) greatness as an empire, the reality is such, that they would lose even what was left of their strength if they choose to be a solo player. on the other hand, eu also needs uk to keep the balance of power inside the eu.

  8. avatar
    Omar Mateiro

    About leaving the UE it’s not by accident that EFTA turned into CEE economic rules, all the business was being done allready. Having said that I don’t see how the UK is going to do Commonwealth’s integration without everybody screaming “What’s Europe?”…definately, still a long way to go and a lot of issues.

  9. avatar
    Gerry Mavris

    Greece must sue the British State for 460 billion Euro’s at the Court of Justice of the European Union, for all the British State Crimes against the Greek State from 1967 till the present day which has led to the economic crises in Greece. The British State destroyed my country. Time for justice and compensation.

    • avatar
      John Smith

      What state crimes against the Greeks?
      Slightly under-educated here….

    • avatar
      Maro Kouris

      We all have to be very frank , and admit that Britain and Turkey are primarily responsible for the Greek Debt Crises, due to absence of an EU Defense Force, which Britain is primarily responsible for hampering its creation, as it has been shown over the years . The Eurozone must support Greece in seeking 600 billion euro’s compensation from both the UK and Turkey for British and Turkish state crimes against both the Greek state from 1967 until today, and for British and Turkish state crimes against the Cypriot State from 1974 until today.. All are undeniable facts. Greece must take Britain and Turkey to the European Court of Justice to seek full compensation. All of the European Union and the Eurozone must put aside diplomacy with Britain and Turkey , and support Greece and Cyprus against these colossal crimes committed by the British and Turkish States. It is through this criminal partnership between Britain and Turkey, which is responsible for the economic tsunami that has devastated the economies of Eurozone members Greece and Cyprus. In 1967, Britain used its lackeys in the Greek military leadership, to demolish Greek democracy via the establishment of a Greek military junta, to pave the way for a British sponsored Turkish military invasion and division of Cyprus . to the embarrassing approval of the United States, which at the time was double-crossing Britain , by destabilizing the British pressence in Cyprus.,The American objective was to expel Britain from Cyprus, just as they had expelled Britain from Greece in 1947, with the help of American Vardarski mercenaries. Given the impact of British and Turkish crimes on Greece and Cyprus from 1967 until today, there is 50% unemployment and an increase in suicides by desperate people who are victims of the collapsing of the economy caused by the actions of the British in Greece and Cyprus since 1967, along with British hostility to a EU Defense Force. The Taxpayers of the Eurozone demand that Britain and Turkey give Greece 600 billion Euro’s in monetary compensation as well as a full withdrawal of Turkish and British military forces from EU member Cyprus

  10. avatar
    Tomáš Čížek

    European union is dead right now, when will ECB print euros to save failed states, it will rob every person that owns euro and cause big inflation. Better buy gold or silver then keep euros :) And better belive in nation states then in failed socialistic project such as European union… And that’s the answer.

  11. avatar
    MandyandPj Leneghan

    Don’t get me wrong, I support the concept of the EU, I support its human rights and its labour laws etc but it has failed. It has failed all (ordinary) Europeans by allowing the American monetry system to take over, the consequences of which are plain to be seen, even though the full consequences are yet to unfold. DeGaulle was correct regarding the trojan horse (UK). The EU will have a better chance to survive without the UK and the citizens of the UK will have a better chance of waking up to the confidence tricks of their/our government(s) outside of the EU. So yes, referendum now. As for the EU, I am afraid that the UK has probably done their job and you are left in a no win situation, in my opinion of course…pj

  12. avatar
    Filippo Gafaro Barrera

    Let’s put it this way: if the UK is out, then I’m out. There’s no hope for the EU if Britain were to walk out: we would have to start teaching German in schools; we would lose most multinational corporations to Britain; the best students would keep hemmorhageing out of the EU to London; Europe would lose a champion of Civil liberties and Democracy, the biggest defence spender, the financial powerhouse and its only world city, that in these years has been a beacon of hope for hundreds of thousands of young talented europeans.

  13. avatar
    Sandro Nunes

    Isn’t the british central bank printing money to save them? Isn’t the FED printing money to save them? The UK was never really at our side and always supporting the US in their interests, so I think that the french were right when they didn’t want them among us. If they were really with the EU of course we would love to have them, but they’re not.

  14. avatar
    Zoétán Jenei

    az unio lnyege az sszefogsban van nhny szablynak egysgesnek kell lenie mert ez biztositja tretlen felyldst a gazdagabb orszgok huzk a szegnyebek gazdasgt cserbe vm mentes piacot kapnak ez az egyik elny s ezt nem kellene elfelejteni

  15. avatar
    Josephine Cassar

    I do not think the Brits want to leave as they want access to the single market; let them have a referendum if they want, but fully conscious of the consequences as the British always wanted to have the cake and eat it. They have always been eurosceptic and made a mess of things-see how they clung to colonies, even mentioned in Olympic games opening ceremony.
    With regards to Greece, it was very much to blame for cooking up figures but then Germany and France also did not want to reduce their debts way back and the Commission took them before the ECJ. We do not want these two to dominate. Malta is a small country but without deficits, some debt is natural especially in these circumstances. That is what most “careful” countries oppose-being dominated by these 2

    • avatar

      Most of us will vote to leave.

    • avatar
      Martin Keegan

      Cling to colonies?! Dom Mintoff once tried to make Malta part of the UK!

    • avatar

      Hmm, as far as clinging to colonies goes I feel the French are equally, if not more so, guilty of this.

    • avatar
      Martin Keegan

      BTW, is the Euroscepticism, of, say, Martin McGuinness motivated by a desire for Britain to hold onto its colonies? This ad hominem tu quoque nonsense works both ways, you know.

  16. avatar
    Eusebio Manuel Vestias Pecurto

    O Reino Unido é um grande parceiro na UE ele deve continuar com seu contributo desta encruzilhada de politicas Porque a Europa quere projectos de politicas novas e ela quere dar o salto como nunca deu ela está perante a necessidade de recuperar o seu direito oa futuro

  17. avatar
    catherine benning

    Over many years since, Ted Heath, had a referendum in the UK during the 1970’s every consecutive government since has pressed a ‘Europe is to blame’ button on every policy they introduced. Therefore, the British people have seen Europe as the reason for their discontent and consequent misery for a period of forty years.

    It began with trivia, we were told we had to have kilo’s and litres, instead of pounds and pints. Then kilometres instead of miles. It grew into the shape of fruit being dictated by Europe along with the rest of the changes in our society that was seen as detrimental to our well being. We were advised that Europe had made fishing rights in favour of Spain and the Nordic countries leaving our fishermen without work and on the point of bankruptcy. Add to that milk quotas and that Europe was the reason we were all going to burn in hell because they had stopped us doing overtime, so the lower middle classes were no longer able to earn a living wage as our hourly rate is pegged so low. Forty hours a week meant you did not have enough to pay the rent and survive, so, we were told we had to find two or three jobs to make ends meet. All because Europe and their policies were forcing us to become enslaved by their dominance.

    However, the worst effect, or, the straw that broke the camels back, was the policies we were told were being forced on us by Europes lenient mass immigration requirements. Which consequently devastated our countries entire social system. It has changed us from one of collective responsibility into factions of population. No go areas, riots, groups of foreign men raping mainly pubic white girls in gangs. Honour killings that are barely in control. Failing schools, bankrupt welfare and women having to work more than forty hours a week out of necessity, not choice, and in so doing having to abandon their children who hardly see them. Some rarely in their family unit at all.

    Political correctness suggests that women must run the household, that marriage and family is out of date and add to that this last issue, gay marriage and adoption by couples who took priority over heterosexual families when making applications. It has been social mayhem and all the fault of Europe. We are told directly as well as indirectly had we not been members of Europe this would not have happened.

    The government blames Europe entirely. It spreads the notion through media that if we were not in Europe this would not be how things would be done. We would have less immigration, we would bring family back to the forefront, we would not abandon our heritage to debilitating change by enforced immigration and so on. The general public are not aware all these changes begain in the USA long before they reached us here.

    The citizens of the UK believe it all. And in part it is a reality. The continental mind is set on allowing itself to be overrun on many enforced politically correct issues. And, the final demise of the Euro has everyone convinced in the UK that their financial markets are beng held back by the threat of European regulation. Which we are told will make us so poor we will be unlikely to keep our children from starvation.

    The people in the Uk are never told that the government we have and their ‘leaders’ have sold us out as a protectorate of big money. They, as with many Europeans, have no idea what has really taken place in the Globalization sell out and who and what are at the back of it. All they see is we are getting poorer and more, our freedoms are systematically being removed. Whilst we face the alarm call on a daily basis of how we are open to terrrorist threats as the ‘court of human rights’ sides with illegal murderers and force us to pay them compensation at the same time, making it impossible for us to remove them from our vicinity. Which was a 9/11 spark in the main, really an excuse to force us into subjugation.

    So, if there is a referendum the people, armed with all this convincing information will likely choose to leave the EU. They will not be told that this will open the door for further integration with the military machine of the USA. But a lot of politicians make a great deal of money from this US connection (Blair and his cronies as well as the arms dealers we have) and so they will beat the get out of Europe drum endlessly. Listen to Farage, he is spreading the anti Europe policy for all it’s worth and crowing like a cockerel as he does it. The very wealthy in our society want rid of EU regulation to enable them to remove all laws related to the Human Rights Act. They want to exploit the workers further and bring forward more legislation to starve the elderly, disabled and poor as they are dong today.

    People are being allowed to die in our hospitals if they are over seventy or young and seriously ill, by witholding food, water and medicine. It is out of control. The entire country is out of control. We are watched day and night by thousands of cameras and police are kill people if they demonstrate, and do it with the protection of the state, as they are cleared if charged in court.

    This gives some information as to what has happened world wide. Deals that have been made that bring us to this point.

    And here is the book.

    And another:

    And as a footnote, I am pro Europe and wish it had, or, will become a federal equivalent of the USA. Be the United States of Europe. But not if it is simply another pawn in the hand of that duplicitous nation which began political correct policy long ago in the eighties.

    • avatar
      Vicente Tavares

      My dear, most of your immigrants are from the Commonwealth, not from Europe mainland. And by the way, you are not member of Shengen. You could stop them to enter.

    • avatar
      Shadrakh Dingle

      Our prime minister got into real hot water using the condescending “my dear”. Now be a good Johnny foreigner and apologize to the lady (irony alert)

  18. avatar
    catherine benning

    Moderator, what has happened to my last few posts. One of which I just put up.

    Will you please let me know?

    • avatar
      Debating Europe

      Hi Catherine,

      Your post was held for moderation because of the external links. There may occasionally be a delay between posting a comment and it appearing (especially if it contains links) whilst it is held automatically in the moderation queue.

    • avatar

      I think they are fed up with your rants …the rest of us are

  19. avatar
    Nate Yonke

    Coming from an american perspective I would like to see Europe split. The US economy enjoys being the only major power in the Atlantic and a more federal Europe means more competition over here. It is ruff enough around here…

  20. avatar
    Marcus Watney

    Isn’t it extraordinary that in an age that has seen the collapse of the Soviet Union into its constituent republics, the collapse of Yugoslavia into its various nationalities, the partition of Czechoslovakia, Scotland demanding independence, the near-cession of Quebec from Canada, and the federal authorities in the USA never more unpopular, in Europe we alone are trying to build the sort of monolithic superstate that became obsolete the day Stalin died? For this is the age of small nation states able to respond quickly and flexibly to the demands of their citizens, just as small fast mammals replaced lumbering dinosaurs. We need a free trade area with our continental colleagues, so that together we can continue to challenge American economic hegemony, but political independence for each state so as to be able to satisfy the different aspirations ofl the many nations that make up this wonderful continent of ours.

    • avatar
      maude elwes

      There is no longer any nation State. You, like so many others, cling to the idea of returning to that happy place of home and country, which we felt secure and safe within. Well you can forget it, as it has been taken over by global financial interests. Not subject to control by nation states, They play by rules none of us can get close to and they hive their profits away to off shore havens.

      World people collectively cannot pay their bill. Here is some food for thought.

    • avatar

      Ahh, you mean small nation states like China, India and Brazil? With their rapid economic and population growth? And lets not forget that the richest nation on earth is a continent panning federal system.

      We’re moving into an multi-superpower era and the EU is Europe’s best chance of being a major part of that.

    • avatar
      Vicente Tavares

      The great difference between BRICS and the EU is they have custom tariffs that start on 40% and go up to 100%. On the other hand, EU custom tariffs vary between 3 and 6%. How can our industries to hold on and resist?

  21. avatar
    Sunny Cvitkovic Anderson

    I would like to see UK leaving EU! They are selfish and egoistical country and they are still in war with Germany. I would like that Germany be a Capitan of EU. Smart, hardworking and common sense people and politicians.

    • avatar

      “I would like to see UK leaving EU! They are selfish and egoistical country and they are still in war with Germany.”

      This is rubbish, I’d venture to say that you don’t really know any British people. Brits are by and large a fairly honest bunch and work just as hard as any other country in the EU. And you shouldn’t mistake differences of opinion for selfishness. Britain, Denmark and Sweden in particular have reservations about the EU, and lets face it the EU is far from perfect. What the EU needs right now is proper debate that allows all voices to be heard, scapegoating one country as the source of all evil is far from helpful and actually damaging to the EU project. Oh and if you hadn’t noticed Germany backed Britain’s position in the recent budget talks…

    • avatar
      Professor Patricia Leighton

      Thank goodness for a bit of sense, after all the ranting and raving from misinformed people on this site.Many of us in the UKJ are enthusiastic Euroepans, we work and live in parts of it. It is not our fault that we have a press that is fanatically anti-EU, that peddles lies and half truths. The press is against it because the EU wont like Murdoch have a monopoly If we do have a referendum we will at least get some sensible arguments, especially from business. We might then see sense and pull back from becoming a lonely, isolated set of islands in the Atlantic. We are not all anti foreignor and it would be good to get a better standard of argument from some on this website

    • avatar
      Martin Keegan

      It demeans you and your university office to insinuate that opposition to political integration with trading partners is motivated or even associated in general with being “anti foreignor” (sic).

      If you’re a professor at a publicly-funded university, maybe you should spend less time making politically tendentious and factually undersupported positions on public websites?

    • avatar
      Vicente Tavares

      Well, well Patricia, you have a rational approach but, you know most of the Brits are a little bit chauvinists (or xenophobes if your prefer). When we deal individually with Brits, they are nice, but your culture is of isolation as most islanders. Even in Australia, Aussies complain that Brits are the foreigners that less apply for the Australian citizenship.

    • avatar
      Chris Morrison

      Well Professor, lets debate a situation in point, a practical and current example, There are recently announced measures laid before the EP concerning the proposal to make businesses shoulder an obligation to find alternative employment for staff they cant afford to keep. What do you think that will do to any recession hit economy where unemployment is rife, and only the most efficent companies can barely stay in business as it is? Dont you think any nation should at least get its own choice over things like this? If any nation wants to put in such a measure, or anything else it should be up to them surely? And if a nation decides that this and the other measures are going to amount to an economic suicide for anyone foolish enough to adopt them (which they will) then they should have the freedom to say no. By what sane rational and non specious argument can that be said to be wrong?

  22. avatar

    Yes….lets vote ourselves out of the eussr as soon as possible…sooner if we can.

  23. avatar

    @EUnietd….the world if full of Nation states…the eussr is not a valid Nation.

  24. avatar
    Hans Metzke

    The UK is a democratic country, so let their people decide. If they want the UK to be part of the EU family, their welcome as any other country. If the people want the UK out, let them leave in peace and let them come back whenever they please, again just as any other state.

    But there should also be another, democratic, option: if the Scots, the Welsh or the Northern-Irish want to leave the UK and join the EU as a seperate state, they should be able to do that as well.

    • avatar

      Absolutely agree. I hope we vote to stay in the EU but I also hope any such split would not be acrimonious because that would limit any potential return once people realise the mistake they made. As for an independent Scotland they should be able to rejoin the EU with minimum fuss and bother, they would certainly get support from Westminster I think, but Madrid would be the real problem for Edinburgh.

    • avatar
      Shadrakh Dingle

      I love the idea of Schotland and NI leaving the UK. They are a major drain on resources and much better the EU subsidize them instead of the English taxpayer. More importantly this would guarantee we have conservative governments for generations.

  25. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    The main rule of Democracy is not impose to the People what they do not want. It should be a referendum in UK about theirs ties with EU. If the majority of the British people do not want to be in EU, why a minority of politicians can impose that status on them? Also, I read that the majority of Germans are against being in the Euro currency. So, why not let them to vote their way out of Euro? Peoples must be free enough to choose their ways, even if the decision on a long term is not good for them. Only that way they will learn.

  26. avatar
    Ian Young

    Those who want to go back to the European nation state balance of power system should be careful what they wish for.
    I haven’t experienced the hell of the Flanders trenches or the Normandy beaches. I have lived through the longest and most stable period in Europe’s history. For this alone we have the European project to thank. We are now living through the worst crisis in the EU’s history but arguments of how to manage the Euro are still trivial compared to a history that led to the death of millions.
    The narrative advanced by UKIP and the Tory press for Britain leaving the EU is a laughable fantasy comparable to Joseph Chamberlain’s imperial federation. He put forward this idea 100 years ago as an alternative to a closer European policy and was generally seen as a non starter even then.
    All major EU countries have other hinterlands and the idea that the UK is somehow special is ludicrous. All Commonwealth countries import more from Germany and UK-US special relationship delusions belong to the Cold War era.
    Europhobes totally fail to produce any evidence from any country in the world which thinks we would be a more influential country by not being a player in the EU.
    Whats more anti-EU sentiment has only grown since Delors advanced the concept of a social Europe and reflects the move of the British Conservatives away from being a centre-right party to an increasingly eccentric collection of neo-liberel zealots.

  27. avatar

    it’s not that the british dont want to be in the eu its the fact that the eu 1 makes crap laws eg britain not being able to extradite terrorist because it’s against THEIR human rights 2 they are constantly asking for money then not helping countreys in the eu that need it eg greece
    on the note of a refferendum the uk would overall be better off out of the eu we never needed it before why would we now

  28. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    Eu como cidadão Europeu quero os Britãnicos dentro da UE e com as suas decisões politicas dentro da UE que sejam politicas de união agora o povo é subremo esperamos pelos resultados

  29. avatar

    There are many problems within the EU, a lack of transparency and the so-called democratic deficit to name two of the most serious in my humble opinion. These issues, real or imagined, give ammunition to selfish and small minded nationalists and the media from London to Paris and beyond. And it is these problems that honest British folk baulk at, and rightly so. These issues do need to be discussed; you can’t continue the EU project at this pace and simply hope no one will notice. Trying to create a federal Europe by stealth will only anger people and in the grand scheme will only set us back. The EU and its supporters need to argue and make the case for it, there will be set backs but we live to fight another day. I want the EU to succeed, I want the UK to be at the heart of it, but I don’t want that to be at the cost of our democracy and our liberty. I recognise that 20 years from now if the EU survives it will exist as a de facto Superpower, but the only way it will be allowed to survive is with the consent of its people.
    Now, if I read one more thinly veiled semi-racist comment about the ‘awful Brits’ spoiling everything I think I’ll burst. It feels like we’re the continents favourite scapegoats and even Barroso and Van Rumpoy tried to isolate and ignore the UK (ie 62 million EU citizens) with its legitimate concerns in a shameful display at the last summit, undiplomatic to say the least. Right now there are far too many comments from self-righteous and self-proclaimed federalists here that say we should go and good riddance. As a UK federalist I say SHUT UP, you are not helping our pro-EU case with such stupid nationalist inspired comments. What we need is support from our continental colleagues and furthermore we, and the rest of the EU, need reform of the central apparatus.
    I don’t think we would be better off without the EU but I don’t think the EU would be better off either. The UK is a net contributor, spends the most on defence, has enviable foreign diplomatic and intelligence services, is the home of the financial capital of Europe (for now), hosts some of the world’s top Universities and to top that off is the motherland of the world’s second language. Like a jealous ex-wife you’d miss us, even though you’d never admit it. And we, like a mid-life crisis husband who’s run off with Miss America, would soon realise that we miss you intellectual conversations and pithy scolding’s.

    Oh look, I got through all that without mentioning the War, the Empire or Les Rosbif, oh wait…

  30. avatar

    BY God give them the freakin’ referendum so they can get the hell out!
    I am sick and tired of the crying, there isn’t a WEEK without some new article by the rabidly anti-EU Daily Mail complaining about the “evil EU”.
    Give them their referendum and they go take a powder for all i care.
    The EU has had ENOUGH of the british idiots!

    • avatar
      Chris Morrison

      Really? or rather might UK be forgiven for looking at the sorry mess the EC is making of the whole darn continent and asking who exactly are the idiots here? Have you taken stock of yourselves lately? If it wasn’t for Germany most of the continent would be begging in the streets! Have a word with yourselves, and a good look at where your grand ideas have got you lately, before you deride others for daring to think your grand plan really isnt as good as you might think.

  31. avatar
    Rob McGrail

    I hate the European Union/parliament ! That’s why I’m going to vote UKIP !!!!!

    • avatar
      Limbidis Adrian

      Fine, who gives a damn. Vote whatever the hell you want.
      In fact i hope there’s a vote in the EU comission to KICK YOUR SORRY ASSES OUT of the EU…without a referendum !
      You people jsut don’t get what “cooperation” means. All you want is ME ME ME and all you care is getting YOUR WAY and everyone else be damned.
      Mr Barosso was right – this isn’t a “me vs them” GAME< IT"S A COOPERATIVE game.

      Go be America's puppet. De Gaulle was right about England, it is an amerian trojan horse !

    • avatar
      Chris Morrison

      The whole point Limbidis, is that rather a lot of us really dont like the idea of being anyone’s puppet. Do you? And perhaps while you are answering that one you can tell me whether the act of surrendering sovereignty to another person you have no electoral control over actually makes you more of a puppet, or less? Who’s in charge of your government, by the way?

    • avatar

      if cooperation means we pay for your lifestyle cos you cant do it yourself , no we dont get it

  32. avatar
    Fellow Citizen

    Personally, I don’t think that there are sufficient grounds for setting up a referendum as to whether the UK should leave the EU. Opinion polling appears to indicate that most UK citizens would prefer to remain in the EU, albeit the largest group of those in the pro-EU camp would appear to wish for a loose single market-based trading relationship with the Union rather than go much further than that. Both the present and former UK governments have accepted the Lisbon Treaty. The UK electorate has had the opportunity to vote for UKIP in a number of national elections but has consistently chosen not to elect it into government and instead has elected governments that have wished to remain in the EU. The European Act 2011 stipulates that a referendum will have to be called if a new amending EU treaty is on the table which foresees significant transfers of sovereignty to Brussels. It appears to me that the UK has actually developed for itself a relatively settled if rather particular position as EU member (notably, able to remain outside the euro, not a member of Schengen and not subject to the latest set of fiscal compact constraints). I do not see any reason to call a referendum. If fellow UK citizens wish to get the UK to leave the EU they have the opportunity to vote for UKIP at the next national election. People do not need to have an additional vote on this issue.

    In my view, if the UK were to leave the EU it would have less rather than more effective sovereignty to address the vast range of political issues that face it which are often transboundary in nature, eg climate change and other environmental protection issues (eg. air and marine pollution, trade relations, foreign policy).

    BTW happy new year, frohes neues Jahr, bon annee to everybody!

    I guess we’ll wait and see what D Cameron comes up with on 22/1, and how he reacts to various recent reactions against any moves by the UK to leave the EU (eg including Heseltine, the US, recent German MEP delegation to London, Richard Branson etc etc ……)

  33. avatar
    Chris Morrison

    I see many references to Democracy in this thread. Aristotle of course defined democratic behaviour as the sort of behaviour which will preserve democracy. If that’s right,surely a fair question to ask would be is staying in the EU likely to preserve democracy in the UK? I m afraid there is on the evidence only 1 answer-No. The political will of the people is of entirely secondary importance to the EC agenda and the recent sagas concerning referenda in other countries makes that completely clear. The EC is creepily like a totalitarian regime in that it only listens to the electorate when the electorate provides the answers it wants. And how the heck a MAOIST got to be in charge of it I ll never know. (Check it out- Barosso is an avowed maoist!) They dont want more democracy They clearly want less and less democracy. What they really want and will get over us if we stay is “tax harmonisation” ie the power to tax us at will. That really would amount to handing over the keys to the house with no comebacks on whatever they stole. EVER AGAIN. And steal they would to prop up their increasingly shaky and failed project. Fact of life 1:Governments don’t create or produce a penny in wealth,and the EU is no different to any other one. So there is no wealth creation to be had by being in it at all. Fact of life 2: Economies grow when people are left alone by governments to pursue wealth generation. The more burdens and expropriations governents impose, the less economies tend to grow. Nevertheless in the 21st century the EU are still desperately flogging the centralist socialist horse. Its never worked before.Why should it start working now all of a sudden? And why should we stay tied to the mast of such a lead bottomed boat? We have before us the clearest evidence that their management of the European economy is a disaster. A disaster they daily insult our intelligence by pretending they didnt have a hand in causing. We are warned like naughty children that we ll be in trouble if we leave. Really? That coming from a confederation which has up to 30% of its population on the dole sounds about as convincing as a bald man selling hair restorer. And as a stance it’s patronising in the extreme to every man and woman on this island who values their individualism, independance and freedom of determination.

  34. avatar

    2 questions:
    Why does Mr. Cameron not propose a vote on introducing the financial transaction tax, Britain’s wars, the health system, …?
    Why are people ennobled with the term ‘sceptics’ when they simply refrain nationalist phrases to push through their agenda? I don’t think they are reasonably arguing, as a ‘sceptic’ would.

  35. avatar

    Recent UK Political History – Do You Know The Facts?

    1973 – Great Britain (UK) Joins The EEC (No UK Referendum Held)
    1975 – UK Referendum Held on Continued EEC Membership (Result in Favour of Continued EEC Membership)
    1993 – Maastricht Treaty is Ratified (No UK Referendum Held)
    2007 – Lisbon Treaty is Signed
    2009 – Lisbon Treaty is Ratified (No UK Referendum Held)
    2011 – Vote in House of Commons Following 100,000+ Signature Petition on Whether to Offer EU Referendum is Defeated by Three Line Party Whip (No UK Referendum Held)

    So, unless you were over the age of 18 in 1975, you will never have had a say on whether the UK remains as part of the EU. In fact, even if you were over 18 in 1975, and voted in the referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the EEC, you will still never have had your say on the UK’s membership of the EU. Whatever your position is, if you were a UK Citizen, would you not liked to be asked?

  36. avatar
    Chris Morrison

    It is now late march 2013. The Cypriot government just voted to steal 10% of all the svings held in the country’s banks in order to bail itself out of it’s Euro mess. Only 3 countries in the eurozone have kept to within the pledged limits of Maastricht, namely Estonia, Finland and Luxembourg-not exactlythe big guns of the outfit. Why cant everyone just admit the truth? It has faiiled and it is now having to loot from the saved wealth of its own citizens to stop itself from collapsing altogether. I said this would happen last year. I am now going to make another prediction. It wont stop at cyprus. By the end of 2014 the economies of southern europe will be in similar ruin.and for the same reasons. Join it? You must be joking!!!!

  37. avatar

    There is an illusion here that the UK is spoiling the party and should leave. Yes of course the UK should have a referendum on continued membership as should all member states . There are many people throughout Europe who would like a looser union of trading nations not a political entity.

  38. avatar
    Jon Danzig

    EU Commission President, José Barroso, has called for a revival of Winston Churchill’s vision for a kind of ‘United States of Europe’. Nonsense, responded the eurosceptics. Churchill was ‘one of us’ and he would’ve voted UKIP! Who’s right? See my latest EU-ROPE.COM blog: ‘Winston Churchill – a founder of the European Union.’

  39. avatar
    Jeff G

    When Washington tells the UK to jump, they jump. When Washington tells the UK to bend over and extradite their own citizens, they do as Washington commands. The UK is nothing more than a royal pain (and Trojan horse) for everyone on the continent. I wish they would get out already! Au revoir and don’t let the door hit you in the arse while leaving!

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