« We are approaching one of the biggest decisions this country will face in our lifetime. » Through these words, British Prime Minister (PM) David Cameron described the possible so-called “Brexit” or British exit from the European Union (EU). In fact, this question has been raising a lot of eyebrows lately. Whether to leave or to stay in the European Union has stirred a debate in both the UK and Europe which already has been facing all sorts of problems from the recent Greek economic crisis to the dilemma of the relentless migrant flow to EU countries. Britons are questioning their membership to this unstable EU and debating whether this membership is being really as beneficial to the UK as it was intended to be or it is a burdensome membership for the Brits. What are the reasons that are pushing certain Britons to come together as a party like the UK Independence Party (UKIP), and reject the EU? What is inciting other Brits to go a step further and linking the EU to Napoleon and Hitler(a link recently made by mayor of London Boris Johnson) ?
According to a report made by Sky News, this results from multiple reasons, some economic, some not:
Leaving the EU will put border control back in the hands of the UK, which is seen as a pressing and sensitive issue with people pouring into Britain because of the free travel policy implemented by the EU. UKIP leader Nigel Farage pointed out that any attempt by the government to control migration into the UK would be futile as long as Britons are in the EU.
By exiting the EU, the UK would be saving approximately 24 million to 55 million pounds daily, a sum due to the EU membership fee.
While some outsiders view the British regime as not democratic enough due to the prominence of the PM, EU institutions are considered non democratic by Brits. For example: unlike the European Parliament, the European Commission that proposes legislation is not directly elected .
Other European countries which are not part of the EU are still quite successful. For example, Norway is managing itself perfectly fine out of the EU and its trade quotas while continuing to exchange goods with it .
Finally, by getting out of the EU, Britain would remain military free and stay away from the prospect of forming EU controlled military forces as expressed by Jean Claude Junker head of the European Commission.
On the other hand, British proponents to the EU argue that staying a member would not only be a plus to the UK’s security and crime fighting policy but also Britain would win on the economical side since most British jobs are linked to the EU and some of Britain biggest trading partners are in the EU. Moreover, traveling would be easier for both British and European citizens visiting the UK.
According to Cameron, who believes that the UK is better off in the EU albeit its problems, the Brexit will only give Britain « an allusion of sovereignty but not power ». The British PM defended his point of view in front of the MPs, opting for « the best of both worlds. »
One of Cameron’s supporters on this matter is the British defense secretary Michael Fallon. In an interview with the BBC, he stated that staying within the realm of the EU will make it easier for Britain to deal with global threats and that leaving the Union will be a gamble.
Meanwhile, conservative mayor of London Boris Johnson blew a bombshell amongst the conservative party by disagreeing with its leader PM Cameron stating that the country has a great future outside the EU.
Pledges made by European and world leaders to Britons in order to avoid a Brexit have raised the stakes around this crucial decision. For instance, during the last visit of his term to the U.K. President Obama urged British leaders to stay in the EU for better security and economic efficiency and cooperation. Moreover, the International Monetary Fund headed by Christine Lagarde, has also warned Britain about the « severe damage Brexit would inflict to European economy. »
In the midst of this division regarding the issue and the high political, economic and security stakes at risk, the question has been left for the British people to answer definitively through the referendum that will be held later this year on the 23rd of June.
First year Law student