Political Promise

EU Referendum Campaign Launced

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2011 at 8:00 am

A group of MPs from across the political divide launched a campaign to have a referendum on our membership of the EU. Yes or No? The people should decide, says Caroline Chan.

A national campaign for a referendum on whether the UK should pull out of the EU was launched last week. Backed by my local MP, I also think that our government needs to re-think its membership with the EU. Opinion polls have also shown that 48 per cent of people would consider leaving the EU. In November 2009, a few months before he became prime minister, Cameron declared that, “I don’t want an ‘in or out’ referendum because I don’t think ‘out’ is in Britain’s interests”.

However, times have changed and I really think that our government needs to seriously consider the pros and cons of EU membership. Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, recently made an appearance on 10 O’Clock Live and advocated leaving the EU, saying that we should remain trade partners but the enormous costs of membership and the fact that we are subject to EU laws that we did not develop means that now is the time to leave. The People’s Pledge allows voters to sign up and declare that they will only vote for candidates who support a referendum. A recent YouGov poll has shown that 61 per cent of those questioned believe that we should have an ‘in or out’ referendum.  While the EU brings us trade links, it can also undermine our democracy. While studying the constitution at school, I found out that EU law takes precedence over laws created by our Parliament. This has been demonstrated recently with the EU declaring that we must give prisoners the right to vote in all elections and insurance companies can not use gender to charge males higher insurance premiums because it is considered gender discrimination.

My local MP, Steve Baker for Wycombe, has also backed the campaign saying that, “This is about self-determination. People should be given a democratic choice about whether we want to continue being ruled by a bunch of unelected commissioners in Brussels. Whether you want to be in the EU as it is today or not, it is right that the British people should have the opportunity to determine how they are governed at the ballot box.” And quite rightly so. We had to to contribute £8 billion to bail out the Greek economy under Article 122 of the Lisbon treaty and we could lose that money if Greece defaults on the loan. We entered the European Economic Community in 1972 and voted to remain in it in a 1975 referendum, which was sold to us as a ‘Common Market’ with few law-making powers. It’s a different picture today. Since 1995, there have been five treaties which centralise power in Brussels. All three of the major political parties pledged a referendum on the European Constitution, re-named the Lisbon treaty after France and Holland rejected it in referenda, but all three parties then withdrew their pledges. The Lisbon treaty has now become law and some argue that Britain’s relationship with the EU lacks legitimacy as the electorate has not had a say on it. People across all parties and wings are divided over the EU issue, a referendum appears to be the only way to determine whether the people really want to stay in the current situation.

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  1. As a note, the ruling on prisoner voting (which incidentally just requires Britain to consider the issue; it does not force Britain to allow all prisoners to vote) was a judgement made by the European Court of Human Rights. The ECHR is not part of the EU.

    If esteemed budding political commentators such as the author cannot make this distinction, it does not bode well for a public referendum on the issue being an informed debate on the pros and cons of European cooperation (in its diverse institutional forms).

    That is why we have a representative democracy.

  2. I think this is potentially a really good idea. I think a lot of the electorate don’t understand at all what is going on in the EU and so before any such movement for a referendum was forwarded there would need to be significant, accessible information on the UK’s involvement in the EU, and see what polls say after that: I think a naive vote on the EU could be catastrophic.

    Perhaps simply leaving won’t actually be a huge help. You mentioned how the EU was initially just meant to be a system of free trade, and has mutated into this power-crazy bureocratic and non-democratic monster, but being in the EU still has some benefits. What could be more effective at improving our European situation is by getting an agreement between some of the major EU countries to say that unless there is major reform, they will all pull out.

  3. Why have you linked to the EU Referendum Campaign though? Steve Baker isn’t backing that, and that is an old campaign. You should put a link to the relevant website for the People’s Pledge!

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