David Cameron announces prospective 2017 EU Referendum
Wednesday morning saw me at my most excited about a British political speech since the 2010 General Election. Eagerly turning on the TV, I sat and watched David Cameron make the promise that a lot of Britons have been wishing for: That of a future In/Out Referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union.
I think that it’s a good movement towards a better deal for Britain. With the plan being that Cameron will negotiate for a better settlement for the country within the EU before the planned Referendum, either his diplomacy will cause the EU to change, especially in its relationship with the UK, or, if a satisfactory agreement is not reached, we will be closer to leaving the Union and gaining more political independence.
The most important point, however, is that the British people will be given the opportunity to decide whether we should stay in the EU or not, so long as the Conservative Party is to win the next General Election, which should be in 2015. In that sense, it could be argued that the lead-up to the Election very much started on Wednesday.
I support Cameron’s stance; a lot of Britons do too, I think, and he has scored major political capital and credibility for both himself and his party both generally and on the path to the potential 2015 General Election. He satisfied Euroskeptic backbenchers too, while throwing a bone to the centre-right press – a crucial ploy for Conservative confidence.
Cameron is back to his best and has created something that political pundits might call “clear Blue water” between the Conservatives and the other parties – a marked difference in policy. And, regardless as to whether Ukip may try to claim a victory here or not, the purple party seems to have been temporarily thwarted in its ambitions to steal ground on the issue of European politics.
As for the parliamentary Opposition? When asked about his party’s approach to the EU, during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday afternoon, Ed Miliband showed his anti-Referendum agenda. It even prompted The Daily Express to say about him: “The fact is that Miliband isn’t even up to the job he’s got, let alone the post he aspires to fill”, while suggesting that he is “buffeted around” by the political “weather.”
So it seems like good news to me that Cameron has announced his government’s intention to tackle the tricky European question head on. It’s not as if the Prime Minister wants to jeopardise Europe; he said that he would like the EU “to be a success” but laid out five principles for this country’s approach to it: “competitiveness”, “flexibility”, that “power must flow back to member states”, “democratic accountability”, and “fairness.”
Cameron also wants a relationship with “the single market at its heart”, and for Britain to be engaged in “shaping, leading the debate” on the EU identity. In short, he wants a “flexible, adaptable, and open EU”, and that has even opened the debate up to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who apparently is willing to renegotiate Britain’s membership of the EU.
It’s been a long time coming, and makes the Conservative Party stand out from the others as the only main one in favour of a change in attitude towards the EU, which is an organisation that increases to grow, becomes more federalised by the year, and strips policy freedom from national governments.
So, come what may, it looks as if a democratic referendum is sitting nicely on the horizon, waiting for the British people to decide what it is that they want concerning the whole European agenda.