Winning the referendum

If there is a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU what is the current state of opinion and what are the essential issues that will motivate a vote to leave?

There have been a number of polls in recent times, some showing a majority to stay in and others showing a majority to leave. For analysis, I examine the questions of two of the best known firms of pollsters.

These are based on the questions:

a) For YouGov: “If there was a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, how would you vote?” The alternatives offered were: “To remain in the EU” or “To leave the EU

b) For Ipsos-MORI: “If there were a referendum now on whether Britain should stay in or get out of the European Union, how would you vote?

Both these questions are useful as they have been asked in the same form for many years. In the course of the YouGov polls throughout 2014, there was almost level pegging at 40% on each side.

However, the questions are misleading in that the issues in the referendum will not be what is implied in both these questions – that the choice is between staying in the EU broadly as it is (probably with some minor reforms negotiated by David Cameron) and otherwise exiting abruptly into an undefined future. Neither of these propositions are true.

Ipsos-MORI in their October polling asked a further question offering four alternatives which are reproduced here:

Ipsos Mori EU Poll

(https://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Polls/political-monitor-oct-2014-EU-charts.pdf, page 5)

From this, one can see there are four blocks of opinion:

a) Those who want closer integration – 14%
b) Those who want broadly the same relationship as at present – 29%
c) Those who want to belong to an economic community without political links – 34%
d) Those who just want out – 17%

It is absolutely obvious that those seeking withdrawal need to win both the vast majority of those who want a return to an economic community without political links and some of those who want the same relationship as at present.

Relying on the group that wants to leave the European Union altogether is only to attract 17% of the electorate (all the percentages are excluding the six per cent of ‘Don’t Knows’). Of course, in the ‘squeeze’ question – remain or get-out – the get-out attracts some of the other groups, making its total 40%.

Because of the status quo and inertia effects in referendums, that is the tendency in referendums throughout the world for the electorate to vote for the status quo, the withdrawalists need to be looking at a poll lead of 15-20% at the start of the campaign to be sure of victory.

Plainly the group who wants to remain part of an economic community without political links must be offered this which means the offer of staying in the Single Market without all the political links, that is to say, EFTA-membership to be sought and EEA membership to be maintained. This is an existing, workable, off-the-shelf solution to the key aim, exiting from the political and judicial side of the EU.

But this is not enough. Inroads must be made into the group who want the relationship with the EU to remain as it is at present.

Because the EU, as set up, has an ongoing integration process at its heart with thousands of employees working precisely on this, it is essential to convince most of this group that their wish is unrealisable and is simply not on offer.

It needs to be clearly and repeatedly stated and demonstrated that the integration or (power grab) process is continuing and will continue. It is part of the EU DNA.

First, attention should be drawn to the repeated treaties which have turned the Common Market into the European Union. All of these have been a one-way transfer of power always with assurances by British politicians that they do not mean very much.

Then attention must be repeatedly focussed on what integration measures are in the pipeline today and over the next few years.

  •  British financial contributions will rise to a much higher level.
  • More mass immigration is planned, for example, David Cameron flew to Istanbul last week to hasten Turkey’s entry to the EU and Juncker’s plan to ‘promote mobility’.
  • The chaotic accounts, off balance sheet liabilities and implied liabilities in the European Central Bank, the European Investment Bank and the EU itself are likely to impact on the British taxpayer as the eurozone crisis returns.
  • Juncker’s ‘Agenda’ for the next five years, set out in his speech of 15th July to the European Parliament, contains further integration proposals. Among these are:
    o Massive spending proposals;
    o A new European Energy Union;
    o Europe to be number one in renewables;
    o Single Supervisory Mechanism and Single Resolution Fund for the banks (that is, bailing out    foreign banks);
    o A Capital Markets Union;
    o ‘Promoting’ labour mobility;
    o A Commissioner with special responsibility for the Charter of Fundamental Rights;
    o Common asylum policy;
    o ‘New European policy’ on legal migration;
    o ‘A stronger Europe when it comes to foreign policy’.

While withdrawalists cannot hope to capture all the votes of the block of opinion that wants to stay in the EU ‘as it is’, it must be repeated constantly that their desire is not on offer. Politicians who generally find it difficult to confront hard choices also must be confronted with the real choice.

The choice is between more financial contributions, more EU control, more immigration, more spending and an adventurist and dangerous EU controlled foreign policy in much of the world on the one hand and a clear offer that saying ‘No’ means staying in the Single Market via the EEA which will take all the ‘business’ concerns out of the debate and jobs and the economy will not be affected but all the political and judicial structures of the EU will be jettisoned.

There is also a final argument to make. We need to stress that Britain can have a great future in the world if it acts globally. The ‘stay in’ option must be clearly shown to be an option to ‘get in deeper’.

Perhaps a thought for the electorate to consider is the old Chinese proverb:

‘Fool me once, shame on you,
Foor me twice, shame on me.’

Anthony Scholefield

Anthony Scholefield

Anthony Scholefield is Director of the Futurus Think Tank

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A dismal choice for the electorate

With the UK General Election less than four months away, campaigning has already started. Barring a miracle, we face the dismal choice of either David Cameron or Ed Miliband as prime minister, although neither of the parties they lead look likely to gain an outright majority.

The Labour Party will lose one of its most consistent and honourable supporters of UK independence with Austin Mitchell, the MP for Grimsby, standing down after 38 years. There are still a number of Labour MPs who believe the UK should quit the EU, notably Kate Hoey, John Cryer, Kelvin Hopkins and Graham Stringer. However, they are in a minority and on the back benches. Miliband has consistently refused to allow the UK voters a say in whether we should continue to be members of the EU and, in spite of the valiant efforts of John Mills and the CIB-affiliated Labour Euro Safeguards Campaign, looks unlikely to change his mind any time soon. If Red Ed ends up in Downing Street, we can therefore look forward to five more years of misery as Brussels continues to do some 80% the job that our MPs are elected (and paid) to do.

Of course, David Cameron has insisted that only a vote for the Conservatives will secure a referendum on our EU membership, but can he be trusted? In many ways he cuts a rather pathetic spectacle – certainly not the sort of person able to fight for a good deal for the country if we vote to leave. Yesterday’s visit by Angela Merkel only underlined the subservience our Prime Minister seems obliged to show to the German Chancellor. We will be allowed to renegotiate only what she allows us to. Once she declared that there could be no change to the EU’s fundamental principle of free movement of people, it promptly disappeared from Dave’s wish list. She made it clear yesterday that she did not support Cameron’s desire for treaty change. Roger Boyes, writing in Wednesday’s Times, claims that “Merkel is losing faith with parochial Britain.” He suggests that those who believe that Germany will do anything to keep Britain within the EU are mistaken. “There was a collective sigh of exhaustion at a German-hosted diner this week when a guest read out the headline ‘Cameron warning to Merkel: I won’t rule out leaving the EU’. One day Mrs Merkel will wake up and ask: would German interests in Europe or the world be seriously damaged without Britain in the EU? Her answer, as a cold-eyed trained scientist? Probably not.” No doubt in the event of a Tory victory and a renegotiation followed by a referendum, David Cameron will try and present such crumbs as fall from the German Chancellor’s table as a major triumph, following in Harold Wilson’s footsteps of 40 years ago. His claim that “if I don’t get what is needed, I rule nothing out” rings very hollow when he has made it clear that, if elected, there will be no place for withdrawalists in his 2015 cabinet. According to the Daily Mail, he insisted that “all senior Tories will have to support his stance on voting to stay in the European Union if he secures a deal on clawing powers back from Brussels.”

So the best Tory MPs will be stuck on the back benches, leaving him with only the dregs of the party from which to choose ministers – unless, of course, they defect to Ukip as Cameron refused totally to rule out a coalition with Ukip in the event of a hung parliament, for no doubt Nigel Farage’s party will insist on being offered at least one seat in the cabinet as a price for joining the government.

At least the ongoing woes of the Eurozone, concerns about free movement of people and the rise of Ukip will ensure that the all-important issue of withdrawal from the EU cannot be swept under the carpet as it has been in previous general elections. However, it looks to be a while before we will be led by a man (or woman) who has come to their senses and realises that the future for Britain is as a free country, looking to the wider world rather than confined within the dysfunctional EU. In other words, the road to withdrawal still looks to be a long and rocky one.

France says “non” to treaty change

David Cameron’s aim to renegotiate the UK’s relationship within the EU while remaining a member suffered a blow when François Hollande, the French President, told the Prime Minister he is “obsessed with his own problems”.
Bruno Waterfield, writing in the Daily Telegraph, states that M. Hollande said he will block Mr Cameron’s request for a change to the EU treaty to include a new settlement for Britain in Europe. He told the Prime Minister that he is opposed to amending the EU’s treaty on the grounds that change is not needed and might trigger a referendum in France.
The French President dismissed the British case for renegotiation as a product of Tory political disarray over the rise of Ukip, accusing Mr Cameron of being “obsessed with his own problems”.
The warning came at a meeting of the European Council summit in Brussels. “The price to keep Britain in Europe keeps getting higher and higher. It is now up to the UK to decide,” said a senior French government source. “We will not pay an extra price to keep the UK in the EU.”

European diplomats are expecting Mr Cameron to use the opportunity, if he wins British elections next May, to table demands for a “new settlement for Britain in Europe”.
The Prime Minister’s renegotiation will be hitched to EU treaty changes required to address the Eurozone crisis. It is expected to include an opt-out for Britain on the core principle of “ever-closer union”.
But President Hollande reminded Mr Cameron that any treaty change will need the unanimous agreement of all EU countries, including France.

This blow to Mr Cameron comes as a Foreign Office report published yesterday suggested that the EU is only playing “lip service” to the role of national parliaments and is increasing its grip on everyday life in Britain, and Foreign Office report has found.
The final Balance of Competences review suggests that the EU is guilty of “mission creep” and is imposing an unnecessary burden on British businesses.
The report suggests that controversial EU legislation such as the working time directive, domestic water standards, car safety seats and agency working standards should be handled by Britain.
At an EU summit in June next year, Mr Cameron, if in government, will be asked to make concrete proposals for treaty change by the autumn of 2015 but senior European diplomats warn that Britain’s political capital is low.
“Britain’s political prestige in Europe is lower than I have ever known it,” said one senior EU diplomat with 30 years experience in European diplomacy. “It has not been helped by recent British behaviour over the EU budget, which was widely regarded as childish.”

After pulling back from a demand for free movement clauses to be amended in the European treaty, Mr Cameron is understood to be asking for an opt-out from the EU’s legally binding commitment to “ever-closer union”. British government sources have admitted that, in the face of hostility to treaty change, the Conservatives might have to accept a “protocol” promising an opt-out at a future date when EU treaties are changed.

France is opposed to any new treaty clause allowing Britain, or other countries, to take an “à la carte” approach to the EU, and instead wants Brussels to take on more powers to regulate business taxes.
France also fears that a successful attempt by Britain to renegotiate the EU treaty would open the door to Germany’s push for new eurozone powers to dictate economic policy to members of the single currency. British demands could also fuel French calls for a referendum and become a political focus for the far-Right Front National, which is beating Mr Hollande’s Socialists in presidential opinion polls.
Marine Le Pen, the FN’s popular leader, is campaigning for a popular vote on the euro and the Élysée regards allowing Britain to reopen a debate over the EU treaty as “too risky”.
“It has become more and more hazardous,” said the French source. “There is no guarantee today that a French government could convince the French people.”

(To see the original article on which this piece was based, see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11300291/France-to-block-David-Camerons-treaty-change-plan.html)

The EU budget- another dose of reality for Dave

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it” (Joseph Goebbels)

Has David Cameron been taking lessons from Nick Clegg? With Cleggie, it’s the “three million jobs depend on our EU membership” myth that he recycles over and over again in the vain hope that if he repeats himself enough times, people will start to believe him. With the Prime Minister, it’s “I’ve cut the EU budget.” Once again, this is a complete myth. As we reported a while ago (https://campaignforanindependentbritain.org.uk/cut-eu-budget-pull-one-dave-part-2/), the Office of National Statistics’ “Pink Book” shows that both our gross and net contributions have increased substantially since the Coalition government came to power in 2010.

However, the story doesn’t end there. A press release from the European Parliament (http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/content/20141208IPR83032/html/Parliament-and-Council-negotiators-agree-to-EU-budget-deal) states that the EU’s budget will increase by 4.2% next year on top of the figure originally agreed, with the UK being liable for an extra £420 million. Furthermore, the European Parliament also agreed a €4.8bn retroactive top-up for this year. Tuesday’s edition of the Sun http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/politics/6165385/Britain-faces-500m-bill-from-Brussels.html quotes Pawel Swidlicki of Open Europe, who said that this latest inflation busting increase “shows why it is so important for David Cameron to push through radical changes to the way the EU spends taxpayers’ cash.” Does anyone really believe that David Cameron, who is still hardly flavour of the month in most European capitals, is going to be able to change the mindset of an organisation whose auditors have not been willing that to sign off its accounts for the last 19 years? Given Cameron’s belief that he has cut the EU budget when he has done nothing of the sort, Open Europe is pinning its faith in a broken reed.

It is hardly surprising that only two days after the latest EU tax bombshell, an opinion poll conducted by Survation on behalf of The Freedom Association revealed that in the event of an in/out referendum, 46.6 per cent of those surveyed would vote “out” while just 34.3 per cent would vote “in”, with 19.1 per cent undecided. Among those likely to vote, the gap was starker, with 48.8 per cent opting to leave, compared to 34.7 per cent wanting to stay and 16.5 per cent undecided. The Freedom Asssociation’s Rory Broomfield said that “the British people are clearly fed up with picking up bills for EU institutions that remain unaccountable to them and do not act in their best interests.” Absolutely. The EU has already wasted enough of our money and given the failure of George Osborne to reduce the Government’s deficit, we shouldn’t be wasting pouring any more taxpayers’ cash down the bottomless black hole in Brussels.

Jurassic Park is thriving at Westminster!

The dinosaurs are back! Two of them recently roared into life to suggest that one day the UK might join the euro. First came Lord Liddle, Labour’s main EU spokesman in the upper house, said it would be “pragmatic common sense” to keep membership of the Euro a possibility. Then Lord Mandelson, the ghost of New Labour Past if ever there was one, gave an interview with EurActiv, the EU news agency, claiming that “The Eurozone might re-emerge, and when it will, the euro will become a reserve currency in the world, Britain’s relationship to that currency might seem more attractive than now.”

Will these people never accept that the reason Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy are all suffering such misery is because of the Single Currency? It will never succeed because of serious design flaws that were present from the very outset. There is no “lender of last resort”; the Euro is shared by too many countries with too diverse economies to be an “optimal currency area” and for the foreseeable future, exchange rates and interest rates will be determined by Germany for its own benefit. Yes, everything seemed very rosy in the garden during the first few years of the Single Currency’s life when all the world’s major economies were enjoying healthy growth, but when the downturn came, the Eurozone was hit by the downturn much harder than the rest of the developed world. Indeed, it is still suffering, Italy is in recession, France is struggling to avoid following suit. Money growth has collapsed in the Netherlands. The housing market has crashed in Spain and Ireland. Greece, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Slovenia and Slovakia are experiencing deflation. You don’t need a degree in economics to work out that this isn’t just coincidence.

Sadly, New Labour has a track record of being rather more than semi-detached from reality After all, wasn’t it another New Labour icon, Gordon Brown, who claimed he had ended “boom and bust”? If so, it is no surprise if Messrs Mandelson and Liddle really do believe that the UK electorate, only too aware of the tragedy that the Euro has become, will joyfully vote to surrender our fiscal and monetary independence and join the single currency suicide pact.

Government waffle on EU exit

THE PRESS OFFICE OF
The Lord Stoddart of Swindon (Independent Labour)

News Release

5th December 2014

Government resorts to ‘waffle’ rather than commit to leaving the EU if negotiation fails

When twice questioned by the independent Labour Peer, Lord Stoddart of Swindon (Hansard 20.11.14 and 04.12.14), the Government has avoiding answering whether it will consider withdrawal, if its attempts to negotiate changes in the UK’s relationship with the EU prove fruitless.

Responding for the Government to Lord Stoddart’s request for a direct answer to his original question, the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Baroness Anelay of St Johns said: The Government’s position remains the same: the European Union must reform to become more competitive, democratically accountable and fair for those inside and outside the Eurozone. The need for reform is widely acknowledged amongst the EU Institutions and other Member States.’ There followed two further paragraphs about the alleged benefits of EU membership.

Commenting on the Government’s response, Lord Stoddart said: “The Government’s refusal to answer the question demonstrates that the Prime Minister’s declaration that ‘nothing is ruled out’ concerning the UK’s future in the EU is either empty rhetoric or he is being undermined by the Europhiliac Foreign Office.

“Enoch Powell was certainly right when he expressed the opinion that the Foreign Office existed to promote the interests of foreigners, not those of Britain. What I have received back from the Foreign Office on this important issue, on two occasions, is just waffle aimed at evading the question.”

The full text of Lord Stoddart’s question and the Government’s reply is as follows:

Hansard 04.12.14
European Union
Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Anelay of St Johns on 20 November (HL2789), whether they will now answer the question originally asked namely, “whether they will consider recommending withdrawal from the European Union if their objectives cannot be met through negotiations”.[HL3130]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): I refer the noble Lord to my answer of 20 November, Official Report, House of Lords, column WA131.

The Government’s position remains the same: the European Union must reform to become more competitive, democratically accountable and fair for those inside and outside the Eurozone. The need for reform is widely acknowledged amongst the EU Institutions and other Member States.

The UK’s membership of the EU brings many benefits to the UK, including jobs and investment; a strong collective voice to negotiate free trade agreements; and greater international influence on global threats such as climate change and Ebola.

This was demonstrated at the recent European Council last October where EU leaders agreed to the 2030 climate and energy policy framework—the world’s most ambitious targets so far—as well as agreeing to increase EU financial help to fight Ebola to €1 billion.