The EU Referendum (1)

I have long been a Euroskeptic, not least because I smell unchecked corruption, and while I recognize that being out of the EU is likely to be harder now that we in, unless I can see a compelling argument for staying in I will be voting to come out of the EU when it comes to my voting in the EU in-out referendum, even though I suspect the movers and shakers and those who have power and influence in our society will get their way and we will end up staying in.

My desire is there should be an intelligent debate on the issues and for people to weigh the arguments before making up their minds. My fear is this won’t happen. My intention is that prior to the big vote to evaluate the arguments for and against staying in and present my findings and conclusions in a further blog post (maybe more than one). I have already giving my views on EU membership and related matters such as immigration although I recognise there are complexities and changing circumstances. I got thinking more about this today when I read today’s edition of “the Sun”.

I often find the Sun immensely annoying but it is the one newspaper available when I have breakfast in my local café and I concede it sometimes raises important points. I read an article by Norman Tebbit, a close ally of Margaret Thatcher in her hey day, followed by an editorial on something related but only obliquely. It could be said that Tebbit tends toward euro-skepticism which is in contrast to former prime minister John Major who reminded us once again of his pro-Europe views when he was interviewed on last Sunday’s Andrew Marr show on the subject of Europe and also why I am not his fan given he once expelled our local MP, Teddy Taylor, from the Conservative Party, for dissenting from those views.

What Tebbit was arguing was that in his negotiations with EU leaders, David Cameron appears already to have made up his mind on the UK’s EU membership and all he would likely get are some token concessions that might be enough to tip the balance when it comes to possible detractors. Moreover, once these have been agreed, pressure will likely be put on those who might wish for the UK to come out of the EU, either tow the line or be ousted from any meaningful position in the government and party. This, according to Tebbit, was in marked contrast to how Thatcher would have handled matters or even Mr. Consensus himself, Harold Wilson, who allowed party members a free choice on the issue. I have to declare that in this instance I share Tebbit’s concerns.

The other Sun EU piece of writing was its editorial reporting on some findings that one of the consequences of the UK opening up its borders to EU immigrants is that it has meant a lowering of wages for those doing lower paid jobs and, given those from poorer EU countries were still better off taking such jobs, this trend looks set to continue. While friends sympathetic to taking in immigrants may well argue the net result for the UK is a positive one, reading material such as this only adds to my skepticism. I should also qualify this by saying that while my instinct is we take in too many EU migrants, we do not take enough genuine sanctuary seekers.

There are many other facets to the EU in/out debate (and if out what then will be our relationship with the EU) that I intend to explore and while not a UKIP fan I will be in part looking to one or two UKIP members that have done their homework on the subject in order to help formulate my views. I can’t help thinking about the episode of “Yes Minister” in which Jim Hacker became Prime Minister, first broadcast in 1985. One of the ways he got the job was appearing tough on Europe but it was all part of a cunning plan, in which EU partners were all too happy to go along with. I suspect something along those lines is what is happening now with David Cameron’s negotiations. I am therefore firing off this warning shot – Mr. Cameron and co., you may think you are lining yourself up to winning the end game, but don’t forget that your detractors have got you sussed and will be challenging your every move.

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