There will be a vote in the U.K. parliament on Monday on Britain’s continued membership in the European Union. The vote will decide if the U.K. will hold a nationwide referendum on whether it should leave the EU, renegotiate its treaty with Brussels, or remain a member on current terms.
In 2007, Prime Minister David Cameron—while he was leader of the opposition—chastised then prime minister Gordon Brown for refusing “to give the British people a referendum on the EU constitutional treaty.” Now that he holds the reins of power, however, Cameron is singing a different tune. And, although British MPs have agreed to hold a vote on a referendum, Cameron, who has expressed his desire to take back some powers from Brussels, is now publicly opposed to a referendum and will order his MPs to vote against it.
Dear friends, put not your trust in politicians.
And, while all Conservative MPs, and Lib Dem and Labour MPs have been instructed to vote against the motion for a referendum, the BBC reports 61 Tory MPs have signed it and may defy their party’s whip.
Cameron does have a point, as he argues:
Our [the U.K.’s] national interest is for us to be in the EU, helping to determine the rules governing the single market—our biggest export market which consumes more than 50% of our exports and which drives so much of investment in the UK.
This is not an abstract, theoretical argument, it matters for millions of jobs and millions of families and businesses in our country.
The coalition government is applying what is known in Britain as “a three-line whip”—the strongest order a party can give—on Conservative MPs, meaning that MPs who vote against the government will be expected to resign from government jobs.
A poll published today in theguardian shows that a clear majority of 70% wants a referendum and 49% would vote for Britain to leave the EU, as against just 40% who prefer to stay in.
Earlier this month, Nile Gardiner, a Washington-based foreign affairs analyst and political commentator, wrote in The Telegraph:
Great Britain has witnessed the steady erosion of its sovereignty and freedom, with the deathly hand of Brussels stifling Britain’s ability to trade freely and act independently on the world stage. A proud nation that won two World Wars, defeated the scourge of Nazi Germany, and helped force the Soviet Empire to its knees now has its counter-terrorism policies dictated by a faceless ‘human rights’ court in Strasbourg, and lacks the freedom to even negotiate a trade agreement with its closest allies such as the United States and Australia.
Gardiner’s words resonate well with this former U.K. citizen. I’d be very tempted to vote against continuing full membership in the EU. A free-trade agreement, yes, but no to the rest.