The media are currently making fools of themselves by pretending that Cameron’s “renegotiation” is anything more than a smokescreen. Numerous powerful people in the EU have made it perfectly clear that any renegotiation is out of the question.
The press imply, however, that the EU is in fact prepared to negotiate but is just setting out their initial bargaining position.
I’d be prepared to bet a month’s profits that Cameron is unable to renegotiate anything beyond moderation of EU legislation on the permissible shape of bananas, but let’s assume for the moment that he is right – that the EU desperately wants Britain to stay in and that they are prepared to negotiate away the “ever closer union” that is fundamental to the entire project. Why would they be so keen to keep us in the EU? Let’s take a look:
- My first reason is obvious. We are a net contributor. The EU redistributes wealth from rich countries to the East. If we leave, either the contributions of others will need to increase or the various bribes grants to the East will need to be reduced.
- Secondly, although Labour and the Tories have reduced our once-proud military to an active frontline strength the same size as the audience at the Glastonbury Festival, we still have nuclear weapons. The EU would love to get their hands on these, to give them a position at the “top table” in international affairs. They will have France’s weapons of course, but they would much rather have the arsenals of two nuclear powers.
- My third last reason is perhaps less obvious, but the most troublesome. When we leave the EU, what will happen to all the people that migrated here from Eastern Europe?
The establishment would no doubt feel that they should be given UK citizenship, but this would be politically very difficult. There is not (nor has there ever been) a democratic mandate for mass immigration or free movement from the EU to the UK. Feelings about immigration are running high due to successive Governments’ failure to address the issue, so would the establishment parties risk alienating public opinion even further? It’s hard to tell, but I suspect that they won’t want to risk another pro-UKIP surge.
If this is the case, many East European countries will be facing an influx of their own nationals. This would place the same stresses on their infrastructures, education, health services and job markets that have been placed on ours. They obviously won’t want this.
- I’m not mentioning trade because it’s not actually an issue. Trade will continue whether we are in or out. Membership of the EU makes no difference at all to the amount of trade that takes place.
So, there are actually some valid reasons that EU countries would want us to stay. The question is – will these reasons outweigh the cost of keeping us in? At the moment, the price of the UK remaining in the EU (based on Cameron’s idea of “renegotiation”) would seem to be fundamental reform.
Personally, I don’t think the EU is prepared to go that far. What do you think?