EU Referendum Will Not Make or Break Britain

The United Kingdom on a globe
The United Kingdom on a globe (Ali Wade)

Fanatics on both sides of Britain’s EU membership debate are losing their heads.

Iain Duncan Smith, the pensions secretary who supports an exit from the bloc, recently accused the stay-in campaign of “bullying” voters with “spin, smears and threats.”

Liam Fox, a Euroskeptic former minister, said proponents of continued membership were “embarking on wilder and wilder scare stories.”

Philip Davies, a Conservative Party lawmaker, alleged that the government was telling “blatant lies” about the consequences of leaving. Read more “EU Referendum Will Not Make or Break Britain”

EU Negotiation Influenced Most British Conservatives

British prime minister David Cameron speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel at Schloss Meseberg in Brandenburg, April 12, 2013
British prime minister David Cameron speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel at Schloss Meseberg in Brandenburg, April 12, 2013 (Bundesregierung)

Prime Minister David Cameron’s renegotiation of Britain’s European Union membership appears to have convinced a plurality of his members to support his position in the upcoming referendum.

Open Europe, a British think tank that welcomed Cameron’s EU reforms, has found that 150 of the ruling party’s lawmakers favor staying in the bloc against 124 who want out.

The remaining 56 are undecided.

Back in October, as many as 203 Conservative Party lawmakers were undecided. Of those, nearly twice as many have since come out in support of staying in as have joined the out camp. Read more “EU Negotiation Influenced Most British Conservatives”

Voters Care Less About Boris Johnson Than the Press

London mayor Boris Johnson visits Hampstead Heath, April 15, 2012
London mayor Boris Johnson visits Hampstead Heath, April 15, 2012 (i-Images/Andrew Parsons)

If a foreigner had bought a British newspaper this morning, she might have assumed Boris Johnson were already prime minister.

The outgoing mayor of London, who is a likely candidate to succeed David Cameron as Conservative Party leader at some point before the next election, came out in favor of a British exit from the European Union on Sunday night. Every major newspaper in the country apparently thought it was the most important thing in the world, for they all put him on their front pages.

This website didn’t think it worthwhile to report the news at all. Johnson is hardly the only prominent Conservative to support an exit. Several cabinet members do, including Michael Gove and Ian Duncan Smith. Johnson does lend charisma to an out campaign that has sorely lacked it. But it would have been far more newsworthy had the great flirt of Euroskeptic England thrown his support instead behind Cameron and the campaign to stay in. Read more “Voters Care Less About Boris Johnson Than the Press”

EU Referendum Divides Britain Along Blue-Red Lines

London England
Aerial view of Big Ben and Westminster Abbey in London, England (Unsplash/Ricardo Frantz)

Britain’s EU referendum, which Prime Minister David Cameron said on Saturday will be held in June, is likely to divide the country along the lines of what Andrew Sullivan, a blogger, has called Europe’s “blue-red culture war over modernity.”

“Blue Europe,” according to Sullivan, is “internationalist, globalized, metrosexual, secular, modern, multicultural.” Blue Europeans tend to be better-educated and traveled.

“Red Europe,” by contrast, “is noninterventionist, patriotic, more traditional, more sympathetic to faith, more comfortable in a homogeneous society.” It is less mobile and struggling to maintain its high living standards in an era of rapid economic and social change.

“Mass immigration or migration across Europe,” according Sullivan, has “only made things worse, leading to resentment and racism when it has occurred in already beleaguered working-class Europe. The emergence of an unassimilated Muslim population didn’t help things either.”

This culture war is most pronounced when it comes to immigration.

But the model can be applied to British attitudes about the European Union as well. Read more “EU Referendum Divides Britain Along Blue-Red Lines”

Cameron Announces EU Referendum, Party Divided

David Cameron
British prime minister David Cameron delivers a press conference outside his office at 10 Downing Street in London, England, May 23, 2013 (The Prime Minister’s Office)

David Cameron set a date for Britain’s EU referendum on Saturday: June 23.

“I believe Britain will be safer, stronger and better off in a reformed EU,” the prime minister said a day after winning concessions from other European leaders that give his country “special status” in the bloc.

Cameron said withdrawing from the European Union as the first nation ever to do so would be a leap in the dark.

“Leaving Europe would be a threat to our economy and national security,” he warned. Read more “Cameron Announces EU Referendum, Party Divided”

Only Euroskeptic Fanatics Would Reject Deal

British prime minister David Cameron delivers a press conference outside his office at 10 Downing Street in London, England, May 23, 2013
British prime minister David Cameron delivers a press conference outside his office at 10 Downing Street in London, England, May 23, 2013 (The Prime Minister’s Office)

David Cameron — perhaps predictably — does not appear to have persuaded Britain’s Euroskeptics that it is worth staying in a reformed European Union.

Some would have argued for an exit no matter the outcome of Cameron’s renegotiation. That’s fine. We think Britain is better off in the EU, but there is a reasonable case to be made against membership.

Others, though, are saying Britain should leave because the prime minister didn’t get 100 percent of what he wanted.

That is the politics of fanaticism. Read more “Only Euroskeptic Fanatics Would Reject Deal”

Britain’s Cameron Hopes to Call Summer EU Referendum

David Cameron Angela Merkel
British prime minister David Cameron and German chancellor Angela Merkel answer questions from reporters in Berlin, May 29, 2015 (The Prime Minister’s Office/Arron Hoare)

British prime minister David Cameron said on Sunday he was “hopeful” of reaching an agreement with other European leaders that would allow him to call a referendum on EU membership this summer.

“That is what I would like to see, is a deal in February, then a referendum that would follow,” Cameron told the BBC.

The Conservative was reelected in May on a promise to renegotiate Britain’s membership of the European Union before calling an in-out referendum by 2017. Read more “Britain’s Cameron Hopes to Call Summer EU Referendum”