Sunday, 19 June 2016

My final thoughts on the EU referendum

Just four days remain before the all-important EU referendum vote on 23rd June comes for the United Kingdom, although many voters have already cast postal votes.

I believe that some important questions still need to be answered, however.

1. How close will it be in the end?

Very much so-even in light of recent events which some believe have swung opinion more back towards remaining in the EU, polls have consistently been neck-and-neck between the remain and leave sides of the EU referendum, with a significant portion of undecided voters in each poll (usually 8-10%), and I believe they will remain so in the final days leading up to the vote.

2. Could Welsh and Scottish voters end up deciding the final result?

Yes, given that it is known that Scotland and Wales have generally been more pro-EU than England (particularly true in Scotland). Even in London, English voters are very divided over the EU referendum issue, depending on their circumstances. However, given how well Scotland and Wales have benefitted from Britain's EU membership, they are more favourable towards the EU than England and their votes will be decisive.

3. Can we avoid unfair trade deals like TTIP by exiting the EU?

Not necessarily. Even though exiting the EU would exempt Britain from TTIP, it is likely that David Cameron, George Osborne and co would negotiate a worse free trade agreement between Britain and the USA, and we the people would be unable to stop it in practice. With major parts of TTIP having been leaked, the chances of it ever coming to pass now within the EU are now slim to none, given that some European nations such as Greece are already planning to veto it.

4. If Britain exits the EU in the end, will this trigger demands for EU membership referendums in other EU states?

Yes, it will. As the last few years have shown, the United Kingdom is not the only nation in the European Union where Euroscepticism is strongly on the rise. Denmark, France, Germany, and Sweden, for example, have not only seen substantial rises in support for Eurosceptic parties (and not just on the right of the political spectrum, either) but also increasing dissatisfaction with the EU and in particular Europe-wide freedom of movement. Belief that the EU is too controlling and too authoritarian is also being felt more by poorer nations in the EU such as Greece and Spain, who have been hit worst by the global recession of 2008 and are still not recovering from its aftereffects. Even if Britain votes to remain, demands for similar EU membership referendums will likely occur in at least a few nations over the course of the next five years.

When you come to vote in the EU referendum, listen only to your heart, your head, and your conscience when casting your vote-do not let the press decide this referendum; it must be decided by us alone. And we must make a case for reform to the EU if we stay in; we cannot simply carry on as before.

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