the European Union may be fatal for England, for the United Kingdom,
and probably for Europe too. A look at the background, the arguments
and the consequences of a "Brexit".
and the European Union - a short history
Churchill would definitely be voting "in".
Britain has had no more formidable Europhile than Winston Churchill.
Sadly, no statesman or woman since Churchill has come
remotely near putting the argument for European union more forcibly and
eloquently than did Churchill. And it is the 50-year lack of any great
eloquent Europhile in Britain, and most significantly in his political
party, the Conservatives, that has put Britain in the situation it is
in today, with a looming referendum and a resurgence of an
introspective isolationism that seeks to portray the European Union as
the source of all our ills.
Churchill towered over British 20th century history like no
other statesman. And among the many things that made him a statesman,
not a politician, was his understanding of history. In 1953,
Churchill won the Nobel Prize for Literature "for his mastery
of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant
oratory in defending exalted human values".
In his historic "Zurich speech" in 1946, Churchill exhorted
his audience at the University of Zurich to "re-create the European family,
or as much of it as we can, and to provide it
with a structure
under which it can dwell in peace, in safety and in freedom. We must
build a kind of United States of Europe.”
It was not Churchill's first exercise in working towards the
unity of Europe. On June 16th 1940, before the fall of France to Nazi
Germany, Churchill and the French prime minister Reynaud had agreed to
unite, (yes unite !) Britain and France into a single nation. Churchill
himself announced: "The
two Governments declare that France and Great Britain shall no longer
be two nations but one Franco-British Union. The constitution of the
Union will provide for joint organs of defence, foreign, financial, and
economic policies. Every citizen of France will enjoy immediately
citizenship of Great Britain, every British subject will become a
citizen of France." Alas, within weeks, Reynaud
had been replaced by the collaborator Pétain, and
could not materialize.
In the late 40's and 50's, Churchill continued to
press for a united Europe, and was one of the key architects of the
Council of Europe; and though he was - and still is - often portrayed
as the "British bulldog", Churchill was certainly no introspective
sovereignist, no isolationist.
He had some reticences about certain supra-national aspects
of European union, but was generally favourable to the principle of
uniting the nations of Europe. Alas, other British politicians of the
time lacked Churchill's vision, and were more nationalistic. So when in
1950-51 negotiations began for the setting up of the European Coal and
Steel community, Britain's Labour government did not participate.
By 1957, Churchill had retired from public life, and when
six nations of Europe got together to form the Common Market, Britain
was not one of them. Conservative prime minister Anthony Eden had in
1956 rejected new plans to unite Britain and France, and was more
interested in maintaining relations with the Commonwealth and the USA.
As for the Labour oppsition, they were not interested in building
bridges with other European states that were all run by Conservative or
Christian Democratiic governments.
Once the EEC (the common Market) was set up, there were many in Britain
who quickly decided that the UK had made the wrong choice; and it was
not long before both Conservatives and Labour came
round to thinking that we would actually be better in than out. So
began twelve years, from 1961 to 1973, during which successive British
governements tried to undo the big mistake of
1957, and join the new family of European nations.
Unfortunately, there was one man standing in the way, and
that was French president De Gaulle. De Gaulle, a fervent French
nationalist, bore a deep personal animosity to Churchill in particular,
and the English speaking countries in general; he begrudged Churchill
for not having considered him as an equal during the war, and he
begrudged the English-speaking countries whom he saw as trying to
impose their model and culture on the rest of the world. And so twice,
in 1963 and 1967, de Gaulle as President of France personally vetoed
Britain's applications to join the EEC.
Success did not come until 1973, after De Gaulle
had died, when Britain was welcomed unanimously into the expanding EEC.
Britain in the EEC
There was however little celebration in Britain when Conservative prime
minister Edward Heath signed Britain up as a member of the EEC.
De Gaulle's two vetoes, as well as nostalgia for a
bygone age when Britain was the world's greatest power, had both helped
to foster reticence towards Europe. There was no elected European
parliament in those days, so the argument that the EEC was a
supranational unelected body interfering in Britain's affairs at least
had some truth in it at the time.
Even so, that did not stop Labour prime minister Harold
Wilson calling a first "in/out" referendum in 1975, in which voters
voted 2:1 in favour of remaining in the EEC.
The Conservative party was by then badly split between its
pro-European centre and its nationalistic and Eurosceptic right wing.
Margaret Thatcher, who was from the hard right wing of the Party, was
nevertheless enough of a stateswoman and sufficiently pragmatic to see
that the answer to Britain's problems with Europe would be best settled
from the inside,
not from the outside. From her famous quip at the 1979 Dublin
want my money back", through her signing of the European
single Market Act in 1985, Margaret Thatcher played a decisive part in
strengthening and imporving Britain's position within the EEC.
However by the end of her time as Prime Minister,
Mrs. Thatcher was being more and more pressured by the right wing of
her party, who considered Europe as an unnecessary bureaucracy and a
threat to national sovereignty. Unfortunately for Mrs. Thatcher, the
general mood of the Conservative party did not follow; and in the end
it was Margaret Thatcher's growing Euroscepticism that led to her
ousting as leader, and her replacement by John Major. As Conservative
prime minister, it was he who in 1992 signed the Maastricht treaty that
replaced the EEC by the new European Union.
Britain in the EU - from Major to Cameron
In 1995, Britain did not sign the "open borders"
Schengen agreement, Britain and Ireland obtained an "opt-out" ensuring
that they did not need to join, and also demonstrating that everything
in the European Union need not necessarily apply to all states. Later
in 2002, Britain was one of the countries that, though in the European
Union, did not adopt the Euro.
From 1997 to 2010, under the Labour governments of
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Britain interacted constructively with the
rest of the European Union; but in the Conservative party, stuck in the
opposition for 13 years, Euroscepticism caused increasing dissent in
the ranks. The choice of the mildly eurosceptic Iain Duncan-Smith as
leader was an ill-inspired choice that left the party in the doldrums.
It was not until the election of David Cameron in 2005 as party leader
that the Conservatives again began to become electable.
And if they did so, it was because Cameron was, and is, a
pragmatist . A Eurorealist, rather than a Eurosceptic, he managed to
paper over the gaps in a fractious Conservative party by including in
his shadow cabinet, then cabinets, people from all sides of the party,
including convinced Europhiles and some hardened Eurosceptics.
So far, he has been successful in his management of both the
Conservative Party and the nation. The decision to hold a referendum on
continued membership of the EU was a massive gamble, where the stakes
Like all currently surviving British prime ministers,
Conservative and Labour, he is asking the British people to vote to
stay in the European Union. He is joined in this by the leaders of all
the other major British parties - Labour, Liberal Democrats, SNP and
the Green Party. In this David Cameron has achieved a rare consensus
that transcends party politics.
It is just a pity that he could not achieve the same
consensus in his own party, nor even in his own cabinet.
Why some say "out"
For some people, the EU is a fabulous scapegoat
for all of Britain's problems. Of course, all is not perfect with the
European Union, far from it ; but blaming the European Union for all
the (sometimes imaginary) woes of Britain is neither fair nor
intellectually honest. It is simplistic in the extreme to
Europe for everything from immigration, taxes, bureaucracy and housing
shortages, to a decline in national values, unemployment or crime on
our streets. Leaving the European Union would not, could not possibly,
solve all our problems and return Britain to some kind of imaginary
"golden age"; and those who say or imply that it would are dreamers,
wishful thinkers, or just political opportunists.
For thousands of years, rulers, autocrats, dictators and
politicians have sought to further their own ambitions, bolster their
own beliefs, or mask their own failures, by pointing the
of blame at others, at outsiders, at scapegoats.... At
foreigners, at Protestants, at Catholics, at Muslims, at imported
labourers, at the French, at the Irish, at the Jews, at the heathen, at
the poor.... and today at the European Union.
Vote "out" to reclaim our sovereignty.
There are many in the "Leave" campaign who claim that by leaving
Europe, Britain will be able to get rid of EU legislation, and make our
own laws instead.
This is extremely simplistic, a populist sound-bite, and a gross deceipt.
While it is impossible to state an exact figure (check out with Fullfact.org)
EU legislation actually sets the framework for perhaps a quarter of UK
law. Most of this is quite uncontroversial, and the UK would enact the
same, or very similar, legislation with or without the EU.
In addition, as an active member of the EU, the UK plays a
significant role in shaping EU law, which is then adopted into
legislation across the EU. Here, a precise figure can be quoted. In 98% of cases,
new EU legislation is in line with the position taken by the UK, and
takes our considerations or objections into account. In only 2% of
cases have laws been introduced in forms that the UK was not in favour
of. But that is part of the democratic process of working in a team
with our neighbours. Sometimes we are outvoted. Just occasionally. Far
more often, the laws that we want are applied actoss the European Union.
Leaving the EU would certainly give the UK, and some people
in it, more freedom to do what they want in some cases. But that is
very much a
double edged sword. The liberties that some people want to "claim back"
are not necessarily in the interests of the population as a whole. And
leaving the EU law-forming mechanism would also mean that EU law (much
of which we will still have to respect if we want privileged
trading terms with the EU) will henceforth be shaped without any input
from the UK.
Petty legislation needs to be rolled back, not just in the
UK but throughout
the EU. Britain in the EU can do a whole lot more to make that happen
than Britain outside the EU .
While there are some incredibly useless and frustrating bits
of EU bureaucracy, they are the tiny tip of an iceberg. In most cases,
the EU's "infringement" of national sovereignty is there to protect
consumers, to standardise equipment and services between countries
(making life far easier for exporters), to establish environmental
legislation (for everyone's good), to help the poorer or less developed
regions (such as parts of Scotland Wales Northern Ireland and northern
England), to protect workers.
Most of this is in the interest of all citizens of member
countries; and in many cases, even those countries that are not in the EU
(Switzerland, Norway) follow European Directives, apply European laws, and
they pay into the EU budget even though they are not members!
It is simply wrong to
suggest that by leaving the EU, Britain could just forget all about EU
rules and standards, stop making any payments into Europe, and just
benefit from a free-trade deal. We could not.
Nigel Farage ran a publicity stunt with a flotilla of small boats
coming up the Thames to complain about
interference from Brussels, about "quotas" that prevent fishermen
what they want. But quotas are there to preserve massively dwindling
fish stock in the seas. By definition, fishing quotas must be agreed
internationally. Leaving the EU would not change an iota of that. It is
thanks to stringent quotas that the North Sea has not been left as a
fish-less pond, its marine ecosystems devastated by over-fishing, as
was feared would happen back in the 1980s.
On milk and dairy products: Protests by farmers, who complained that EU milk quotas were a
restriction on their freedom, led eventually to milk quotas being
abolished in April 2015. Freed from this bit of EU "market rigging",
farmers all over Europe rushed into producing more milk..... with the
result that there is now massive overproduction of milk in Europe, and
the price has collapsed, driving hundreds of dairy farmers out of
business. Other factors, notably sanctions against Russia
reduced the export of milk products, contributed to today's problems,
but this was not the only cause. There was logic in the EU quota
system, even if farmers and nationalist politicians protested that they
were an infringement of their rights and sovereignty.
Besides, in today's global environment, "sovereignty" is a
very relative concept. The UK is bound by countless treaties and
international agreements, each of which by definitions impinges to some
extent on "national sovereignty". The UK and bodies in the UK are
signed up to dozens of International organisations and treaties, the
UN, NATO, the Commonwealth, the OECD, the International Maritime
Organisation, the WHO, the IOC, FIFA, the ISO, the Council of Europe,
the International court in the Hague, the WWF, Interpol .... and many
more, which together place FAR more restrictions on our right, as a
nation, to do exactly what we want, than does membership of the
"Taking back power" , "freeing ourselves from Brussels" or
"getting back our sovereignty" are just slogans, and those that claim
that leaving the EU would achieve any of these results in more than a
token manner are either burying their heads in the sand, or
deliberately pulling the wool over the eyes of credulous voters, in
order to further their own personal ambitions. How many
times in recent history has the argument of "national
sovereignty" been used by the far right to gain or attempt to
gain power ? It was used by Hitler, by Franco, by Mussolini; it is used
by the far right parties in Europe today, Pegida in Germany, the Front
National in France, the Northern League in Italy, and others.... all of
which are as Eurosceptic as Nigel Farage's UKIP in the UK.
The trouble is that when they have come to power in different
countries of Europe or the world, few nationalistic and sovereignist
leaders have been able to deliver the goods. More often than not, they
have led their countries into disaster, economic stagnation, isolation
Vote "out" to stop immigration.
Leaving the EU would definitely not
stop immigration to Britain. It might even increase it. It might
perhaps allow the UK to decide more easily who can come to Britain and
who cannot; but that would not change very much at all.
immigrants, and not just highly-skilled immigrants, but also medium
skilled immigrants, and low-skilled immigrants to do all
jobs that British people don't want to do and for which employers can't
recruit enough staff. The idea that we could choose just the skilled
immigrants our economy needs, is a non-starter.
Besides there is an inevitable and unstoppable tendency for
suffering from poverty and misery in the least developed or most
war-torn parts of the world, to try and get a better life somewhere
else. Wouldn't you?
In the 19th century, millions of Europeans fled
poverty to seek a new life in Australia, the USA, Canada and
other parts of the world. Now the pendulum is swinging in the other
direction, and Europe is on the receiving end. Recent tragedies in the
Mediterranean, with thousands of people drowning, have clearly
demonstrated that immigrants and asylum-seekers will continue to come
clandestinely, whatevder the risks to their lives, even if the official
gates are closed shut.
At present, there is a Europe-wide management of
immigration; Britain has already partly opted out of this, and some who
want to come to the UK may well end up in Germany or Scandinavia or
somewhere else. If Britain leaves the EU, the argument in the remaining
countries will be. "Well, if they want to go to the UK, that's not our
problem; send them on."
In time, as the gap in living standards between the
southeastern part of the EU and the northern countries narrows, the
incentives of people to migrate within the EU will diminish. Nothing
has done more to help bring about this result than the European Union,
which has done masses to revive the economies of member states that
were once behind the Iron Curtain. It's a result that all in Europe
should be proud of.
Rather than provoke migration within Europe, the EU has
to moderate it. If money from the richer EU countries, including the
UK, had not been used by the EU to help develop the economies of
Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and other less economically
developed parts of Europe, there would be more
intra-European migrants today trying to reach the wealthier nations of
the west, not less.
As for those immigrants already in the UK, if the
UK should start trying to expel EU nationals, they might find
other countries in the EU expelling British nationals.... and
there are hundreds of thousands of British nationals living in France,
Spain, Portugal, Italy and other EU countries.... and
benefiting from their health care and welfare provisions. that's all
part of reciprocity in the EU.
Apart from locking up all immigrants, minorities and the
people one doesn't like (as was tried by Adolf Hitler), the most
effective way to
stop immigration is to improve conditions and living standards in the
countries that people want to leave.
Even outside the EU, Britain could not just expel
all immigrants. As far back as 1948, well before the creation of the
European Common Market, Britain was one of the initial signatories of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - which has nothing
to do with the EU. The majority of immigrants into the UK come
from countries outside the EU, not from the EU at all. And Britain has
100% control over these already.
The idea that Britain's could somehow return to
being a nation without immigrants,or merely a nation with significantly
less immigrants, just by leaving the EU, is a travesty, just smoke and
mirrors. It's a con trick perpetrated by a number of either
delusional or else totally self-seeking politicians, on credulous
voters who will believe anything if it is said simplistically. And the
worst thing about it is that those who instrumentalise the immigration
theme at the same time naively or cynically deny all connection
between their rhetoric and the actions of xenophobic fanatics on the
far right, to whom they give inspiration and encouragement.... and in
the views of the fanatics – legitimacy.
From top management level down to humble domestic jobs, and
those jobs that the British don't want to do, Britain's economy is
heavily dependent on "immigrants".
Vote "out" to save millions of pounds each year
Yes of course, being in the EU has a cost.
Being in a golf club, or darts club, or running a car, or owning a
house... they all have costs too. But we pay our subscriptions, our
vehicle licences, our rates or rent, because we believe that the cost
is outweighed by the advantages procured by membership, mobility, or a
roof over our heads.
The same is true of membership of the EU.
The costs could probably be reduced and possibly will be, if
the EU gets serious about reducing wastage. But even if they were
reduced, it would be a drop in the ocean
Belonging to the EU costs just under £120 per
year, on average.
That is peanuts
compared that to the average amount of
income tax paid by a British taxpayer, which was £4,985 in
The cost of belonging to the EU is 0.34% of Britain's
GNP (the nation's annual turnover); the cost of domestic taxation is
100 times greater !
And of course, a good bit of our payments to the
EU, come back to the UK in the form of EU grants, aids, subsidies to a
range of beneficiaries.
As Stephen Hawking has pointed out, British scientific
which is vital for the economy, is heavily subsidised by
from the EU.
It is essential to get things in proportion, and not be
dazzled by misleading figures that get brandished around out
of all context, and without the least bit of perspective.
Vote "out" and renegotiate new trade treaties with the
Yes it would be possible.... but very costly, slow and complicated! if
Britain exits the EU, we'll have to renegotiate trade treaties from
scratch. That does not happen fast! Far from it. And until deals are
renegotiated, there will be no deal, so no special status, no customs
unions, no trade privileges. The Canadians know this only too
Negotiations for an EU-Canada trade deal started
in 2009, and it still
hasn't been implemented! In fact, only the initial phase will come into
place in 2017, and that doesn't include the broader deal that still
needs to be ratified by 28 (or 27 ?) separate parliaments!
And if Britain voted to leave
It is largely wishful thinking to imagine that leaving the EU would
solve all the nation's problems. It might solve some, but it would
create others – much greater ones
Most studies show that leaving the EU would hit jobs, the
value of sterling, the position of Britain in the world, our very
credibility as a nation on the world stage. The leaders of
G20, the forum of the world's top twenty economic powers, made this
point unanimously at their summit in Shanghai in February. It has since
been repeated by the IMF, the OECD, and other international
Thousands of international companies have their European
bases in the UK; and if Britain is no longer in the European Union,
leave, or at least move some or a significant part of their
operations to a country that is in the EU, notably to France.
The result of the coming referendum is not just something
that will concern Britain, it will have repercussions across the world.
And it won't
just concern companies that are already established in the UK; it will
concern new companies, expanding companies, job-generating companies
that do not yet have a toehold in Europe but want to do so. Britain has
long been among the most popular parts of the EU for attracting inward
investment; but if Britain is no longer in the EU, all that investment will go elsewhere.
There are some in the "leave" camp who suggest that once
Britain leaves the EU, the EU will be anxious to rapidly set up all
sorts of sweet trade deals with the UK to replace the advantages of the
single market that we will have left.
The idea that it will
happen like this is at best fanciful, at worst grossly misleading. A
vote for Brexit would send shock-waves through the EU, unleashing the
forces of nationalism and the far right in many countries, leading to
major upheavals and possibly the disintegration of the European Union
or a fair part of it. Leading voices in the "leave" campaign in the UK
have openly said that they would relish such a prospect. This is pure
folly, for there can be no logic to such a wish, other than sour
grapes and and ideological desire to make sure that a British exit
causes as much damage as possible to the European Union .
But while some in the "leave" camp rub their hands with glee
at the idea of inflicting a fatal blow on the EU, the gloating would
not last long. Any serious damage to the European Union would
lead to major disruption of the European economy, and a serious
recession throughout Europe, which would be in nobody's interest, least
of all in Britain's.
It is madness to suggest that
the other nations of Europe would roll out the red carpet to welcome
trade with Britain, when they see Britain as the arch-villain whose
Brexit was the event that triggered the disruption of the European
economy in the first place.
No Mr. Gove, no Mr.
Johnson. Get real. If Britain votes to leave the EU, we will
become the pariah state of Europe; no country in Europe will be wanting
to do us any favours at all. And don't imagine that they will all want
to make sure that they don't lose out on markets in the UK. that will
be the least of their concerns.
Yes, a post Brexit
British government would want to make sure that trade with Europe did
not take a hit; we'd have a huge incentive for this. But Europe? Far
less. A big fall in trade between the UK and Europe would indeed be
massively damaging for the UK, since the EU takes over 40% of our
exports; but for the E.U. it would be little more than a minor
inconvenience, since only 6% of EU exports go to Britain. It
would be very painful and costly for a post-Brexit UK government to
slap on new import duties on goods from the EU; but it would be fairly
easy for the EU to slap on new duties on goods from the UK.
is just wishful-thinking, a foray into the world of politics-fiction,
to imagine that a Brexit would somehow give Britain back a kind of
sovereignty and freedom that would let her government rapidly negotiate
great new bilateral trade deals with Europe and other countries too, so
that we all live happily, more prosperously, and more sovereignly ever
after. That's the stuff of fairy-tales, not of history.
It is just an illusion to imagine that Britain would or
could be better off by leaving the EU than by remaining in.
It is an illusion to imagine that leaving the EU would solve,
or even start to solve, the problems of the day, or that it would
somehow restore Britain's sovereignty in an increasingly networked
As Prime Minister David Cameron is at pains to
point out, Britain on its own carries little weight on the world stage.
Britain, as a leading and respected pillar of the European Union,
carries a lot more clout and influence. That is why some 80%
of the members of the House of Commons, men and women who one hopes
have an above-average understanding of the realities of politics and
government, are firmly in favour of Britain's remaining as one of the
leading member states of the European Union.
If British voters were to decide, in June, to take
the nation out of the European Union, it would not just be a massive
step into the unknown; it would be a tragedy for the United Kingdom,
possibly precipitating a breakup if Scotland votes strongly in favour
of remaining in the EU ; and it would be a tragedy for Europe.
A Brexit could send shockwaves across Europe, and
seriously damage the whole continent ; and even if Britain was no
longer involved, a dislocation of the European Union would have further
dire consequences for the UK. Specially if the people of Europe came to
put the blame for it firmly on the UK's Brexit.
It's a pity that the proponents of the "out" campaign have
not sat down and thought things through to their logical conclusions.
So who wants to
be "out", and who wants to be "in"
In favour of leaving the EU
When looked at in detail, the "Out" campaign
brings together a very
small part of the political spectrum. Essentially it is made up of the
right wing of the Conservative party, UKIP, a handful of veteran labour
MPs, such Frank Field or Kate Hoey, far-left maverick George
Galloway, and some millionnaire businessmen
The case of Boris Johnson..
As for the rallying to the "out" or "no" campaign
of the ex-Mayor of London Boris
Johnson, this has to be dismissed as political posturing by a very
ambitious politician who desperately wants to be the next leader of the
Conservative party. Johnson's turncoat posturing clearly illustrates what many
commentators have been saying since the idea of a referendum was first
put forward; namely that the EU referendum is more
about infighting in the Conservative party, than about Britain's place
Given how long he took to decide between supporting the
"leave" camp or joining the "remain" camp, Johnson's increasingly
vehement tirades sound extremely hollow. If he really thought
that the EU was trying to do the same as Hitler, why did it take him
until 21st Feb. of this year to make an "agonisingly difficult" choice to back Brexit ? Surely, if that was
his view of the EU, he should have had absolutely no hesitation whatsoever
about which camp to support? Only wheeler-dealers and fascists can have
any agonising to do about whether or not to support something they
believe has the same aims as Hitler.
Likewise, searching ever harder for "arguments" to turn people
against remaining in the EU, Johnson in mid-May lambasted the "fat
cats" and the directors of the FTSE 100 companies for wanting to keep
the UK in the EU... for the sake of their own salaries. Though quite
what the relation between staying in the EU and the salaries of the
CEO's of Britain's top firms is, remains to be explained. Coming
from Jeremy Corbyn,
this might have sounded natural and genuine; but coming from Boris
Johnson who has just spent 8 years as Mayor of London
encouraging rich businessmen to come to London, it sounds highly
One can be forgiven for wondering if the
fatcat-bashing Boris is the same Boris who, in 2012, addressing some of
the world's richest businessmen, said " I have no hesitation or
embarrassment in saying to everyone here ‘venez a Londres, mes
amis’, come to London, come to the business capital of the world,
... a city that still has the largest banking and financial sector
anywhere in the world, but which is at the cutting edge of the growth
businesses of the future” .
Six years ago, Johnson's stated views on a lot of things were very
different to those he is shouting out now. He wanted to bring down the top rate of income tax and allow more foreign workers into Britain. As the Daily Mail wrote on 31.12.2010 :
a New Year warning to the Prime Minister, Mr Johnson said retaining the
50p top rate of tax would make the British economy
‘uncompetitive’.The London Mayor also stepped up his
criticism of the Government’s immigration cap with a warning that
key firms were becoming increasingly ‘hacked off’ with the
restrictions on overseas workers. He suggested that the
Government’s desire to look tough on both issues was potentially
damaging to the economy
Can this really
be the same Boris Johnson who is now pouring hatred on fatcats and
calling for a sovereign UK that can stem the tide of immigration
Indeed, announcing his rallying to the "out" camp, Johnson
sounded almost apologetic about doing so – which is not
really surprising. He has
chosen his camp not because of his views on Europe (in many ways,
polyglot Johnson is actually quite a Europhile, and his brother and
sisters are all in the "remain" camp) , but to further his
He knows that after the referendum, whatever way
the vote goes, there will be a feud within the Conservative Party
which, within the Party, as opposed to within the country, the
Eurosceptics could win.
As one of Britain's most charismatic politicians,
Johnson would then be in a commanding position to take over an
officially Eurosceptic party – with the dream of electoral
reaching No.10 Downing St. if not in 2020, then in 2025. By then, of
course, with Britain still in the EU, he could convert back again to
being a Europhile.
If voters choose to take Britain out of the EU, then
Johnson is posed to take over the reins of the Conservative party even
Chosing the "out" camp was for Johnson the only sure way of
achieving his personal dream. It was 100% predictable. He is now de
de-facto leader of one side of the Conservative party. Had he
chosen the "in" camp, Johnson would have effectively barred himself
from taking over the Conservative party if an when it wants to choose a
Eurosceptic leader ; and among the europhile wing of the Conservative
party, he would have remained in the shadow of David Cameron.
The print media
Finally, in spite of Boris Johnson's attacks on the "fatcats"
supporting the "remain" campaign, the fatcats are not all in the same
camp. It depends on their business interests or their ideological
opinions, and the billionaire owners of Britain's right-wing press are
in the "leave" camp.. The Daily Telegraph, owned by
tax-exiles the Barclay
brothers, and the Daily Express, which supported UKIP in the last
general election, oppose membership of the EU on ideological grounds.,
as do the Daily Mail, owned by non-domiciled Viscount Rothermere,
and newspapers in Rupert Murdoch's "News International" group.
In favour of
Britain staying in the EU.
- Most members of David Cameron's government, and most
- Most Labour MPs
- All Liberal Democrat MPs
- Most if not all Scottish and Welsh Nationalist MPs,
Sinn Fein and the SDLP
- In fact, about 80% of the elected members of the
House of Commons.
- Supporters of continued membership include the
leaders of all the main political parties in the UK, and all the living
- Most of the leaders of big exporting companies want
Britain to remain in the UK.
In favour of Britain leaving the EU.
- A handful of government ministers, and a minority of
Conservative MPs, mostly on the right wing of the party.
- Boris Johnson, former mayor of London
- A few Labour MPs
- George Galloway's Respect party.
nationalist or sovereignist and far-right parties , including
UKIP, the BNP (British National Party), the EDL (English Defence
League), and the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party)
- About a quarter of MPs
- A distinct minority of business leaders, though
several influential tycoons
The demographics of Brexit
Among ordinary voters, who wants to stay in and who
wants to leave the EU?
In short, about a third of the British population is undecided; but younger voters and better educated voters are
more likely to vote for Britain to remain
in the EU
from the British Election Study (Waves 4 and 6) were analyzed by
Matthew Goodwin and Caitlin Milazzo for a Chatham House Europe
Programme briefing in December 2015. (Link).
The demographics of support for or opposition to Britain leaving Europe
is summarised in this table. Percentages of respondents.
should remain IN
the European Union
the European Union
|18 - 34
|35 - 54
|By education : left school at
|16 or under
|17 - 18
|19 or higher