If there was a referendum on Europe....

(190 Posts)
CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 15-Jan-13 08:31:42

... which seems to be the hot topic... how do you think it would go?

larrygrylls Wed 23-Jan-13 09:30:16


What great posts!

All the political parties keep promising referenda and then backing away from them. To be honest, why does the referendum have to be next parliament (assuming the Cons get re-elected)? I don't trust any promise a parliament ahead. My betting is that it will be delayed for one reason or another and then finally forgotten.

The EU has been a complete con trick. I remember my parents explaining the first referendum to me about the common market when I was about 10 years old. It was all about free trade. It had nothing to do with common laws, common currency or tax harmonisation. Every constitutional change since 1975 has been allowed through via party co-operation. When you look at how many ex political bigwigs from every stage of the political spectrum go on to very highly paid tax free jobs in Europe, it is easy to see the incentives of the political class. However, for everyone else, it seems to be an expensive bureaucracy in exchange for very nebulous benefits.

People like to compare us to Norway or Switzerland. The reality is we are nothing like either of them. Singapore and Hong Kong do very well on their own, as does the U.S. However clearly one is so big to be a continent and the others are so small that they can exist purely on finance and a couple of other industries. I cannot see a good analogy to the UK but I am sure that we are big enough and rich enough to negotiate decent trade agreements with the rest of the world.

It would be really interesting to read some unbiased analysis of the economic pros and cons of leaving Europe. The reality is that what big business says has to be heavily discounted. The relocation of financial service staff due to the 50/45% tax, deferred bonuses etc has probably happened at 10-20% of the rate threatened and I suspect a similar discount rate should be applied to companies moving their HQs into mainland Europe. Language, inertia and access to all the facilities of London will play a big part in keeping them here.

Finally, this is not just about economics. Do we want to be absorbed into a superstate (and we are 70% there already) or do we want the oldest democracy to remain an independent democracy and Westminster laws to have meaning? There is a huge democratic deficit within the EU (which is why Machiavellian types like Mandelson love it so much). Until that is remedied (and I cannot see how it really can be), I want to be out of Europe.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Wed 23-Jan-13 09:31:16

It's much better to be on the inside pissing out in my opinion. We should definitely stay in the EU. There are lots of problems with Europe: the bureaucracy, the need to get the agreement of so many members means there are lots of political fudges, the Euro. But it's still the best political club for us to be in an we are too insignificant in world to go it alone.

Our relationship with the USA is so strong because they see us as the most useful ally inside the EU. If we were outside the EU they would find a friend who is inside and we'd be sidelined by the most important global power.

larrygrylls Wed 23-Jan-13 09:34:18

Our relationship with the U.S is not "so strong". That is a useful lie that the U.S use to keep us onside when they go to war or need a voting ally in the U.N. As Obama said recently "the U.S is a Pacific nation". They are reorienting their military and economic aims to take advantage of the Asian growth story.

Tell me where we gain from this fantastic "special" relationship?

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Wed 23-Jan-13 09:38:01

Of course the USA looks to build relationships in all areas of the world too. But in terms of Europe we are still their closest ally and Germany or France would love to step up and take that role. They will if we are not in the EU.

amillionyears Wed 23-Jan-13 09:39:56

I dont know how the vote would go.
Depends a bit, like another poster said, whether they would smudge the question.

I think there are a lot of undecided voters.

Sometimes people opt for the status quo, because they are afraid of change, and the uncertainty of change.

For me, a big question has always been peace.
If we left, is there more likely to be a war.
Probably not, if it was just us that left?

imogengladhart Wed 23-Jan-13 09:40:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PetiteRaleuse Wed 23-Jan-13 09:45:25

This is a bloody joke, a cynical political ploy to win votes but at the same time placing the political and financial stability of the UK in great danger.

Cameron is shameful, and the most dangerous PM in modern times, placing his own quest for power far ahead of the good of the country, time and time again.

I hope that the vote will keep us in the EU, even though I agree reforms need to be made in the EU.

niceguy2 Wed 23-Jan-13 10:01:02

If only it were a joke Petite!

Personally I think DC is a boy in a man's world. Our approach at the moment seems to be if you don't let us play the way we want to then we'll take our ball home. That's never a mature attitude.

It may well be that under DC we end up going from the UK as a core member of the EU to England billy no mates.

The only silver lining is that he's said several times that the referendum would be offered 'under a conservative government' and that at the moment looks unlikely.

Language, inertia and access to all the facilities of London will play a big part in keeping them here.

I'm sorry but English is the most commonly spoken language and the defacto second language in most of the world. I travel a lot for my work and language isn't a big deal. Any professional level job, the employee will be able to speak practically perfect English. Hell, I have a few dutch colleagues who can speak English better than most Brits!

And you are banking on inertia to keep big business here??? Seriously?

London is the financial capital of the world because of our timezone (we're slap bang in the middle), our friendly laws AND free access to the EU markets. If we removed that we'd see banks all wanting to establish a new European HQ so they can continue to trade in Euros. Their timezone is only +1 so no biggie. And English isn't a big deal either.

Lastly we don't need many big businesses to go or many jobs to be affected by import duty before we as a nation have a flipping big problem. Even using your 10%-20% yardstick. Can you imagine the impact to our economy if we lost 10% of our employment or tax revenues?

lainiekazan Wed 23-Jan-13 10:02:48

I agree with larrygrylls. The EU was supposed to be about trade - and now look at it.

No one (well, about three people probably) signed up for pan-European rules/laws. Some of these (mobility of workers, benefits offered) very seriously impact on Britain.

Members of the European Parliament and other employees have ridiculously generous benefits and no one seems to police them. It is clearly a very cushy number as existing employees are desperate to shoehorn their family members into the organisation. Here we have Neil & Glenys Kinnock flying the European nepotism flag and in Italy (of which I have a little knowledge) it is many people's dream to work there and sadly employees do not seem to be recruited on merit.

EnjoyResponsibly Wed 23-Jan-13 10:03:16

I'm probably going to sound a bit naive here, but I think that we will need some better transparency around numbers to enable a decision.

It's very easy for non-EU proponents to throw around the immigration to the UK numbers and cost to our state handouts, and cost per capita of running the EU without looking at the opposite side. For instance the benefit per capita to our economy from free trade, and the number of Brits that very easily migrate to live in countries like France, Spain and Cyprus.

I'm for a referendum, but I want better facts to make an informed choice.

I shudder at the prospect of 6 years of that Farage man pontificating on the horrors of the EU.

Callisto Wed 23-Jan-13 10:03:42

PetiteRaleuse - tell me which politician of modern times has not put their own "quest for power far ahead of the good of the country"? And in fact I think Blair was far, far worse.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Wed 23-Jan-13 10:09:00

I totally agree with niceguy. We are an attractive base for business but not if we withdraw from the EU. Saying a referendum will take place in 5 years time is like hanging the Sword of Damocles over the UK. "Will we stay in / will we come out?" uncertainly could be the death knell for an ailing economy IMO. And our good relationships within the EU (and we have many) will turn to dust.

amyboo Wed 23-Jan-13 10:14:11

This thread makes me sad. So many people who see so little benefit from our membership of the EU. So much misinformation being bandied around.

Funnily enough, the whole principle of "representative democracy", such as we have in the UK, means that you elect people to office who will act in your interests. If you don't think they're doing so, don't vote for them - vote for someone else. The fact that the EU has changed since we joined in 1973 has been supported by the very people that the British electorate voted for ffs.

I agree that some reform should be made in the EU governance structure, but comments about the Parliament only being able to be the puppet of the Commission, or all our UK taxes going to pay for poorer nations, are frankly just nonsense. The EU costs British taxpayers just €0.75 a day, that's about 50p, and the EU budget has actually dropped as a percentage of GDP in the past few years. Take a look at this for some proper FACTS about the EU and its spending/policies:ec.europa.eu/unitedkingdom/blog/index_en.htm There are fewer EU civil servants working in Brussels than there are employed by the city of Birmingham for example.

In a way a referendum will be good as at least it will give people the chance to put correct information out there, but I for one would not be happy if we left. As a foreign languages graduate I have been able to fully take advantage of the wonderful opportunities offered to me by the EU, such as studying abroad, living and working abroad, border free travel, cross border shopping - and all of these benefits for me and my family. Membership of the EU goes much further than just agriculture and fisheries....

PetiteRaleuse Wed 23-Jan-13 10:14:20

Ufortunately they all do it.

I am actually pro referendum, as I am confident the Brits will vote to stay in. So why leave it til after the election? why should ie be part of the manifesto? Bblackmailing the country by saying vote me in and you get a voice on the EU is cynical, and the economy will now be even more unstable until the issue is resolved once and for all.

larrygrylls Wed 23-Jan-13 10:25:12


"Lastly we don't need many big businesses to go or many jobs to be affected by import duty before we as a nation have a flipping big problem. Even using your 10%-20% yardstick. Can you imagine the impact to our economy if we lost 10% of our employment or tax revenues?"

Your argument assumes that 100% of companies are threatening to move their HQs. It is probably 10-20% that are threatening, and of that 10-20%, 10-20% will actually move. That makes between 1 and 4%. And you assume that there will be no job creation due to less red tape around employment, free trade with the rest of the world and a far more open agriculture and fisheries sector. You are simply scaremongering.


"The fact that the EU has changed since we joined in 1973 has been supported by the very people that the British electorate voted for ffs."

The only parties to give us a choice re the EU have been special interest parties such as UKIP, who are not a credible choice. The political parties have collaborated (mainly due to self interest, as I mentioned above) to NOT give the electorate a meaningful say over Europe.

PetiteRaleuse Wed 23-Jan-13 10:27:10

Anyone who thinks there will really be less red tape outside of the EU is deluded.

larrygrylls Wed 23-Jan-13 10:28:34

"As a foreign languages graduate I have been able to fully take advantage of the wonderful opportunities offered to me by the EU, such as studying abroad, living and working abroad, border free travel, cross border shopping - and all of these benefits for me and my family. Membership of the EU goes much further than just agriculture and fisheries...."

Well, that must be lovely for you, however you represent a tiny minority of the UK. I have worked with Americans, Canadians, Hong Kong Chinese, South Africans and Zimbabweans during my career in the City. Again, you are scaremongering. Well educated people can nearly always study and work abroad, regardless of being a member of a superstate. You merely need to meet a slightly (and sensibly) higher yardstick. If you are good enough, most nations will welcome you with open arms.

amyboo Wed 23-Jan-13 10:29:24

laniekazan - You might want to check your facts before spouting nonsense like "sadly employees do not seem to be recruited on merit". Have you ever sat one of the competitive exams for the EU institutions? A recent one organised for a general graduate-entry profile had 12,287 candidates of which only 76 get through to the reserve list - even getting this far doesn't mean you get a job. You still then have to go through interviews and selection panels. And you need to speak two languages fluently, plus a third before you can be promoted. The whole system has recently been changed, and is very very closely modelled on the UK civil service recruitment system.

So, if this isn't being recruited on merit, I wonder what is?

As for "no one seems to police them" referring to employee benefits and salaries, the EU civil servants' staff regulations are approved and adapted by all 27 EU member states agreeing unanimously. It seems to me that far from no one policing them, there are rather a lot of people policing them. EU civil servants on the whole benefit from very similar conditions to national government civil servants, and in many cases, (like pensions, working hours) national civil servants do better! Take a look here if you want to get your facts straight: ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/sefcovic/headlines/news/2012/05/2012_05_10_epc_en.htm

amyboo Wed 23-Jan-13 10:31:42

"Well educated people can nearly always study and work abroad, regardless of being a member of a superstate." - so the freedom to live and work abroad should be restricted to those who have been fortunate enough to afford to be able to go to the UK's most prestigious universities then?

willyoulistentome Wed 23-Jan-13 10:33:06

My heart says out. My head says in.

My grandparents were immigrants from Europe to the UK in the '20s so am in no position to complain.. but I feel intra EU immigration is now way out of control, and damaging. I think we get far more of it than other EU countries as everyone learns English at school and coming to the UK is the obvious choice. We get the argument that tighter control would mean UK folks would not be free to go and work abroad so easily. Well I think the balance is wrong there. I think we get far more coming in than going out and the ones going out are either retiring to the sun, and not taking up foreign jobs.. or off further afield...and that we need the tax payments of the in-comers. Well I am sure my local layabout on benefits is just as able to pay tax serving coffee in Starbucks as the Latvian girl currently doing it. I am dreading the next influx of Romanians etc next year.

The issues we have had in my sons school with the numerous Polish who come and soak up TA time because of their lack of English are awful. I do feel my son has had his education adversely affected by this. He does need TA support at school, and has not got it.

This is why my heart says OUT.

HOWEVER. My head says (selfishly) IN because I would very probably lose my job if we were out. I work for a huge well known international company, who would in all likelihood move the HQ out of the UK to France if we were to leave the EU. I am not about to up sticks to France, so I would lose my job, and so would around 400 people I work with. That would be the case with very many companies, and there would be huge job losses. It would cause huge damage to the UK economy, and we would take years and years to get a balance back.

But would it be worth it to take control back and stop the inexorable dilution of british culture, and the drain on services. I do not know.

larrygrylls Wed 23-Jan-13 10:34:20


No, it should be restricted to those who can contribute a skill to a country that the country needs, be it bricklaying or advanced knowledge of quantum physics. Why should someone who is able to make no contribution to a country be able to live/work where they want?

guineapiglet Wed 23-Jan-13 10:37:47

What worries me, is the last, er , public vote we had on an important issue resulted in a less than 20% turnout - the public were ill informed, and the whole issue of Police Commissioners passed most people by. Chicken and egg - would more people have turned out IF they had been better informed, or are we more widely completely disinterested and disaffected. ( The last general election was another case in point, less than a 40% turnout - can we be relied upon to vote, and if not will the vaccum be filled by an increase in the % of UKIP/BNP etc votes)

We will all have to be so much better informed for this one, whenever it happens, and not condecended to or have the relevant information dumbed down. Many of us are working for, or have worked for companies/organisations which are dependent on EU trade and markets. I could give many examples about the shocking waste of some public monies in Brussels, so we all acknowledge that there has to be reform and exposure of waste. What will happen to the UK if we leave the EU - we need facts and figures so we can work it out FOR OURSELVES - the article posted upthread about Germany was really interesting reading - we need more of them - they need to be balanced, and we need to hear more from ordinary businesses not just politicians so we all have a clear picture of the implications of staying or going.

<goes to put The Clash on cd>

amyboo Wed 23-Jan-13 10:41:56

So you think that before the EU passed numerous laws about recognition of professional qualifications, educational qualifications, the right of family to accompany workers, the right to transfer accumulated healthcare rights, pension etc crossborder, that someone such as a bricklayer could just up sticks and go and work in another country? Wow, you are seriously deluded.

As for your statement, "Why should someone who is able to make no contribution to a country be able to live/work where they want?" - well, for a start if they're working then they will be making a contribution to a country. Secondly, you can move to another country in the EU without working, but you sure as hell won't be able to claim any benefits from that country. If that's the case in the UK, then it is the UK who needs to change their rules. I can safely say from personal experience that in order to claim benefits (healthcare, unemployment benefit, etc) in another EU country you need to have either worked there and therefore contributed to the system or to have been already claiming such benefits in another EU country before you move. You can then transfer your benefit entitlement while you seek work for I think up to 6 or 12 months, during which time the benefit costs are paid by the original country.

In other words, if I claimed income support, unemployment benefit, etc in Poland and then decided to go and seek work in the UK, I could claim my benefits there if I'd been claiming them for at least 6 months in Poland. My benefits could then continue being paid in the UK while I looked for work but the UK would claim the money back from Poland.

turkeyboots Wed 23-Jan-13 10:48:20

I vote in, but the Commission and Parliment need major reform. And I know this as I work with them.

And anyone who things farmers and fishermen will be better off out of Europe are deluded. We have such massive EU subsidys for them mainly thanks to the French who refuse to revise CAP. UK/England alone won't keep up a similiar level of payments when all other budgets are being hugely squeezed. Farmers vs schools or hopsitals would be an interesting deate!

And we've end up with almost no environemntal legislation, as that is all EU driven.

larrygrylls Wed 23-Jan-13 10:50:14


"well, for a start if they're working then they will be making a contribution to a country"

No, not necessarily. If you are merely displacing a national citizen who is now unemployed, you are making no net contribution to a country. The thousands of EU people from the east doing low level service jobs in the UK are testamant to this. Sure, they are prepared to work for less money and for poorer employment conditions, contributing wonderfully to the upper middle classes having cheaper nannies and meals out. However, they are competitively lowering salaries and conditions for UK nationals to levels below that which is considered decent in a first world country. This kind of immigration is a big factor in the increasingly bimodal wealth distribution in the UK.

The test for employment for a non UK citizen is that they have to be bringing a skill which is not easily available in the UK (for a reasonable cost). I have completed a lot of those applications for people I have employed in the past. This seems quite reasonable to me.

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