Tuesday, October 4, 2011

UK: David Cameron should hold an EU referendum

David Cameron and William Hague have firmly rejected calls for a referendum on British membership of the European Union. In the words of the Foreign Secretary, “our place is in the European Union,” even if the EU single currency “is a burning building with no exit.” Both Cameron and Hague abhor the idea of 'ever closer union,' but in denying the British public a direct say on their future in Europe, Britain’s political leaders are going against the tide of history, as well as public opinion in their own country.

Self-determination is on the rise almost everywhere across the world, with the notable exception of the EU, where unelected bureaucrats sit in splendid isolation, yet still believe they can speak for hundreds of millions of people without an ounce of democratic accountability – to the extent that the president of the European Council feels he can proclaim that the EU is “the fatherland of democracy.”

The principle of national sovereignty should be at the very heart of a conservative foreign policy, and is intricately tied to Britain’s future prosperity and competitiveness. The British people should be free to determine their destiny, and be given a choice whether or not they wish to belong to a supranational political entity that has a huge impact on their everyday lives through a mountain of red tape and regulation. Unsurprisingly, nearly three fifths of Britons (57 percent) believe that EU membership has been negative for the UK, and almost half (49 percent) would vote to abandon the EU in contrast to just 25 percent who would vote to stay, according to polling by Angus Reid.

The idea that Britain is being sucked into an evolving European superstate is not a myth. The EU now has its own president, foreign policy chief and diplomatic corps, has complete control over member states’ power to enter into trade negotiations, and even has a voice at the United Nations as though it were a nation state. There has already been a monumental transfer of powers from London to Brussels, and the British electorate should be given the opportunity to vote on its relationship with the EU for the first time since 1975.

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