Like many, I continue to take an interest in what is happening in the EU Referendum debate, with this weekend seeing a number of important developments. I have already posted on the subject (here and here) and who knows how many posts there will be to come before the outcome is known following the referendum being held on 23rd June. I have been a lifelong euroskeptic, something that took place between General DeGaulle saying “Non” to the UK applying to join the Common Market in 1963 and our actual managing to join in 1973. Part of that reason was religious (my mentors saw this as a bad thing and the Common Market would be eventually in league with the Anti-Christ) but I later I saw it, rather than from a nationalistic and xenophobic perspective as many do, instead as being something that is anti-democratic and corrupt – instead of butter mountains we see ineptitude over dealing with the Calais Jungle crisis and we have our dumping of our Commonwealth allies, an unelected bureaucracy making laws and accounts still not being signed off, and the gut feel is still a lot of money is given to the EU without value for money return. Instead of something that was sold as bringing European neighbours closer together in the light of a terrible war (1939-1945) we have something more sinister – ever closer and unaccountable political union that I fear will be to our detriment.
But now David Cameron has returned to the UK with a deal supposedly guaranteeing the UK important concessions he felt was needed for our continuing membership and in order to appease those who might otherwise want our coming out. The battle lines are being drawn with six of Camerons cabinet plus Boris Johnson declaring themselves among the outers. I am sure there will be many arguments put forward for staying and leaving in the weeks to come but the most convincing one of late is that by Michael Gove. I fear those wanting us to remain in the EU will play to peoples fears of what might happen if we leave. Gove, his five cabinet colleagues, Boris, Nigel Farage, George Galloway and Kate Hoey, make unlikely bedfellows when it comes to campaigning for a UK EU exit and a few of my Facebook friends have remarked that given their dislike for these this may well be a reason for their voting to stay. Today my Facebook page has been hot with “friends” advocating stay and leave in equal numbers, a taste of the exchanges to look forward to, for at the heart of all this is the type of country we want Britain to be.
One Facebook comment, I reckon resonates with many: “How will we get the true facts about our future part in the EU? At the moment it seems like a lottery. I want us all to be able to make a truly informed decision but I fear we won’t be able to”. The best, albeit tongue in cheek, response was: “I am planning to read the tabloids, analyse their intelligent and unbiased editorials, then ask my dog and do what he says”. While I suspect people will vote on the referendum on what would be the best outcome economically for the UK, and that the stay inners will win the day, I do hope it will be a chance to consider the bigger picture and what really matters. I have every intention in taking part in that debate. My advice to my friend was to critically study the facts and try to understand the perspectives of all sides in the debate. And without doubt in the next few months there will be arguments put forward from all sides, starting with David Cameron arguing why he has secured a good deal and his detractors arguing the opposite. My intention is to follow my own advice and post my conclusions nearer the time.