Britain Can’t Wait Four Years for an EU Referendum

Tim GBO picThere’s certainly no denying that David Cameron took a historic step in the right direction last week, becoming the first Prime minister to promise the British people an In/Out referendum on their membership of the European Union.

The problem however is that Mr. Cameron was simply not bold enough. We have had promises like this before. He announced that any referendum will be delayed until 2017/2018, half way through the next parliament (assuming that he is still in office). Current polls suggest he will not be in a position to offer the people a vote.

He insists that time is needed to renegotiate terms with the EU, so that he can put membership on more favorable terms up against withdrawal, hence the delay.

There is quite a big problem with this plan however, as I argued on the BBC recently. This is that any significant changes to our relationship with the EU would involve treaty changes, which would have to be ratified by all member states.

Given that several EU countries have already made it clear that they would not support renegotiation, with the French foreign minister declaring “you can’t do Europe a la carte,” this seems an untenable optimistic position.

The European parliament agriculture committee recently debated 8,000 amendments to the common agricultural policy alone. This should give you some idea as to the sheer weight of European legislation and treaty law that would need to be reviewed, discussed and agreed upon by twenty-seven countries.

Considering that the Prime Minister was not even capable of getting a very slight EU budget reduction in the middle of the biggest financial crisis the continent has ever seen, the idea of him negotiating a fundamental restructuring seems somewhat farfetched. The tide of ever closer union cannot be rolled back.

When one considers this, making the British people wait four years and in the process throwing away another £80bn (approximately $126bn) of their money hardly seems like a recipe for success. This is before one even gets to the huge wave of EU immigration we can expect from Bulgaria and Romania from 2014, when migration controls expire.

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Despite the extensive run up, the scare campaign to try and keep us in is already beginning, based around the notion that we’ll be an isolated trade pariah. This totally ignores our strong trade links with the rest of the world. The planet is much bigger than Europe, and to gear our whole global trade plan around less than 1/24th of its population seems absurd. Also, the large amount of trade we do with Europe means that it’s simply in no one’s best interest to stop an independent Britain trading with the EU. We do not need a shared government to have free trade. The EU has begun negotiating a free trade agreement with Japan after all, and there is no call that I know of for them to become members.

We know that some allies, not least president Obama, have called for us to remain in the EU, and we can hardly blame him for doing so as he is simply and unashamedly acting in his nation’s best interest. All we ask of our Prime Minister is that he does the same by letting us have our say now. An independent, global Britain is in our national interest.

Tim Aker is the Campaign Manager of Get Britain Out. He has formerly worked for the TaxPayers’ Alliance and a Member of the European Parliament. You can follow Get Britain Out on Twitter, on Facebook and by signing up to the campaign here.