True democrats will vote for the EU referendum bill

Popular will must shape Britain’s destiny, or the debate will rage on unabated. This is why Miliband and Clegg’s dithering is a mistake

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James Wharton: The new eurosceptic hero
Alan_murad
Alan Murad
On 5 July 2013 07:40

James Wharton’s Private Members Bill today on an EU referendum could herald a turning point if it eventually leads to a historic first exit from the EU by a sovereign state. However, the lack of support by the Conservatives' coalition partner as well as Labour could frustrate a golden opportunity to reinvent the future of Britain. 

To some, this Bill and Cameron’s subsequent support is no more than a reflection of the Tory Party having to bow to electoral pressure from UKIP, a shallow attempt by Cameron to try and secure another term in Westminster. Many Eurosceptics do not think much will come of it because they don’t trust Cameron and can’t summon enthusiasm for a measure which many perceive as easy to wriggle out of when the time comes.

The Bill’s efficacy is also threatened by the likelihood of a Labour victory in the 2015 general election. With deficit-cutting austerity measures biting into people’s living standards, it seems probable that people will vote for Miliband in the hope of curbing cuts in the public sector and fortifying what is left of it - in which case, the Bill would not lead to anything.

That said, senior Tories are insisting that a future government which ignores the Bill, if it is passed into law, would face judicial review.

The Bill will in all likelihood pass its Second Reading because of Miliband’s orders to his party to boycott it, though this is likely to be ignored by numerous Eurosceptic Labour MP’s, many of whom are increasingly convinced that a referendum is a democratic necessity.

Even the Europhile MPs recognise the unpopularity of the EU and believe a referendum is necessary to restore some legitimacy to the project, if the populace vote in favour of remaining in. Many Labour voters do want a referendum and some MP’s will oblige them no matter what Ed says. 

Miliband insults his voters with his arrogant refusal to allow the British public to decide whether membership is really in their best interest. Contrary to his claim that it is a peripheral issue, the question of holding an In-Out referendum is extremely important to the voters. 

A referendum would confirm whether anti-Europe sentiment is a marginal cause or the will of the majority. In the latter case, the principle of democracy must rule. The popular will must shape Britain’s destiny, or the debate will rage on unabated. This is why Miliband and Clegg’s dithering is a mistake. 

While many wish to label the UKIP challenge as a flash in the pan, most of the political establishment cannot ignore the fact that on this very issue, the party of ‘clowns’ is touching on a real nerve. It’s an idea that many voters are genuinely engaged with. The necessity for an in/out referendum transcends political rivalries, bickering, and the dogmas of party politics.

The question of whether to stay in or get out is now a question of principle and a priority for the majority of the British public who are increasingly outraged at the heavy-handed, pointless regulations emerging out of Brussels.

The last few weeks have seen stories about the banning of menthol cigarettes (because tobacco should taste of tobacco) and milk of magnesia (due to high sulphate). This arrogant and unwanted interference in the affairs of our nation is inflicted on us as if the European Commission believes it has the power to prohibit anything it pleases. What will we see next? A ban on colour purple or a prohibition of certain fabrics!

This Bill could presage a new dawn in European history. If it goes through and is implemented in 2017 we may see an event that could rival the Congress of Vienna or the signing of the treaties of Versailles or Westphalia.

The first exit of a Member State from the EU would be a damaging blow to the integrity of the project, and could unleash a domino effect that spirals into a systemic crisis for the both the Eurozone and the entire EU as currently constituted. Barroso and Van Rumpoy ought to fear this is a very real prospect.

Yet anyone who bothers to be aware of the politicking in Brussels cannot help raising an eyebrow at their aloof, calm confidence; an Emperor Nero like quality as if the impoverished, discontented rioters of Athens or Madrid are like mere insects, to be ignored or crushed.

This cements the perception of the EU as an undemocratic elite that lords it over the people of Europe, with a ridiculous self-image entirely at odds with the reality of their incompetence and inefficiency. 

This Bill is ultimately the product of Eurosceptic backbenchers who believe that an exit, or at least the right of the British public to have a say, is highly beneficial in the long term. In reality, they have only been able to get this far assisted by the threat from Nigel Farage: UKIP is now a key source of pressure, especially for Conservatives.

This Bill has shown Miliband to be the nasty piece of work that he is. He might believe that such a Bill is just a sideshow” or a distraction, but much of the voting public do not. This issue cuts to the core of what is wrong with this nation.

Many of the nations not fully signed up to the EU, such as Norway, Switzerland and Iceland, have weathered the recession far better and are now far more competitive in the global race. It’s this lack of competitiveness that is one of the major flaws in Europe’s economy and much of it seems self-inflicted when we contrast the EU Member States with those of the EFTA.

British exit would give politicians the flexibility to deal with the real concerns that trouble the Great British Public, whether it is immigration, or the economy.  We are sitting on enough shale gas to meet our needs for decades to come, yet EU regulations such as carbon limits prevent us from exploiting this treasure trove. 

The argument for sovereignty is central: the megalomaniac Commission believes it is untouchable. It will find out too late how fragile the house of cards they have built really is, and why it is now imperative we Get Britain Out.

The author is Deputy Campaign Manager of Get Britain Out, an organisation opposed to Britain's membership  of the EU

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