Wednesday 11 November 2009

Let Britain leave the EU

The most remarkable outcome in the Angus Reid poll, published 10 November 2009, is not that almost half (46 per cent) of Britons still want an undoable referendum on the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, despite David Cameron’s recent climb-down and diversionary proposals.

The fundamental question is the view of Britons on their country’s relationship with the European Union. Only 13 per cent think that the United Kingdom should become more integrated with the EU and adopt the euro.

The rest of the respondents want to put integration into reverse gear, ranging between further opt-outs and outright withdrawal:

“A third of respondents (32%) think the UK should stay in the EU, but regain control of some social and employment policies; roughly a fifth of Britons (19%) say the UK’s relationship with the EU should be limited to having free trade agreements, and 15 per cent advocate for a full withdrawal from the EU.”

Purpose of the EU

From the 1950 Schuman declaration onwards, European integration is a continuing process towards an ever closer union between the peoples of Europe. The Lisbon Treaty is but the latest major step in the evolving project the UK joined in 1973.

Like all organisations, the European Union needs constructive and contributing members, who ask not what the EU can do for them, but what they can do for their EU.

EU referendum needed

If, after three and a half decades, only 13 per cent of the Britons are prepared to share the values and the aims of the European Union, to give their fair share to building our common European future, and to express solidarity with other EU citizens, the UK should leave the EU and let the rest of Europe get on with the work, slow and wobbly as it is.

The Liberal Democrats already proposed a referendum on the UK’s membership, during the Lisbon Treaty debate. Let them renew the call and be joined by the other political parties.

A clear outcome would be healthier for the political atmosphere in Britain, and it would be better for Europe.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Read about the real EUSSR through the Euroblogs aggregated on multilingual Propose an interesting blog post or a whole new blog (click Contribute).


  1. Ralf, I've just returned from my annual visit to England (a grand tour, via NE, NW, Midlands, and SW). From my internet reading I had expected the uninformed response I received from folk I met whenever the EU arose in conversation (quite often, with me as promoter!).

    However, in watching a couple of supposedly "serious" TV debates, I was unprepared for the extraordinary views of politicians (of all major parties) when discussing EU issues. Just where and how do these people get their information?

    If central government and opposition politicians are so badly informed it is no wonder the poll gathered such results from ordinary members of the UK (English?) public.

  2. Just for the record.

    I have rejected a comment, which seemingly advances an argument about the post, but in reality is a sly way of promoting commercial betting interests, which are less than openly disclosed.

    Earlier, I allowed two comments of the kind on other posts, but declared that they were undesirable and that the second "comment" was the last one to be published.

    These are the rules of the game on this blog.

  3. French Derek,

    In short, you seem to share my pessimistic view about the political atmosphere in England, from elites to parish street.

  4. What can you expect people to think if they are exposed continually to a barrage of anti-EU propaganda and thinly disguised xenophobia in the media? However, the ignorance of politicians and people who should know better is astounding and the failure to speak up of pro-Europeans is unforgivable. The EU institutions ought also to make their case better. The UK has been handled with kid gloves for years while taking advantage of the other Member States' good will to obtain preferential treatment; see for example the way in which they use their opt-outs. At the same time, the press treats every decision taken democratically by the Member States in the Council and the European Parliament as a victory for a foreign power. It is high time to invite the UK to consider its options, and spell out what the costs would be of EEA membership - compliance with the acquis (except perhaps for agriculture and fisheries policy, but even that might not be certain), a heavy contribution to the EU budget and no say on the legislation which the UK would have to apply. Somebody ought also to point out that UK policy on Europe is being shaped by the non-resident, non-UK-taxpaying and/or foreign owners of most of the British press.

  5. Robert,

    You are sadly right, the 'foreign power' (only little short of 'occupying power') sums up the impression I get from my daily reading of British opinion, high and low.


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