My views on the EU can be broadly summarised as:
- Freedom to trade and travel throughout Europe is the "positive" aspect of the EU
- Relatively relaxed about immigration (but understand that many have significant concerns)
- I want Britain to be "outward-facing" and play a leading role internationally & globally
- Concerned that EU institutions appear to be bureaucratic and undemocratic
- Unhappy about the continuing transfer of powers to the EU
- Opposed to the UK being subsumed into a Federal Union / "United States of Europe"
Polling reports I have read suggest this is pretty close to the average UK position, although I am probably more liberal on immigration. Polling also suggests that a majority of UK citizens support the idea of a “reformed” EU or at least a reformed relationship between the UK and EU, which was also my position at the start of 2015.
However, now that I have read more into the subject, I have realised that this is naïve. The EU is unwilling and incapable of offering such reform - we should accept that it is and always has been a political project whose aim is a Federal Union (as European politicians and EU officials have been telling us for decades).
Nor is David Cameron actually seeking fundamental reform. At best we will be offered “Associate Membership”, which will essentially be a holding position for states not yet ready to commit to full integration. This will effectively be “second-class” membership and will result in a further reduction of UK influence. Inevitably, pressure will build over time to upgrade to “first-class” membership, which will entail adopting the euro and all other aspects of integration. "Associate Membership" will simply delay the inevitable decision that the UK has to make.
I have also become aware of how the emerging global single market is a crucial issue (and how little attention this gets in the mainstream media). The regulations we assume as coming from Brussels are actually generated by global organisations (the real “top table”) and are implemented as far a-field as Australia. The EU has exclusive control of trade policy for all member states, so speaks for the UK on these global bodies as well as negotiating all trade deals. The coming years will provide a unique opportunity for the UK in global trade - should we entrust this opportunity to the EU ? - or should we have an independent voice on the global stage, and engage with partners/allies across the globe ?
Hence, I believe the EU question comes down to a clear choice for the UK :
· Remain in the EU, and commit to the the principle of “pooled sovereignty” (UK has 12% vote in Qualified Majority Voting in Brussels) leading to eventual Political and Monetary Union inside a United States of Europe.
· Leave the EU, continue to trade and co-operate with the EU (and countries around the world) and have an independent voice on the global stage as a self-governing nation-state.