Lincoln Book Festival

Lincoln Book Festival
2017 Festival Programme

Saturday, 6 February 2016

EU Referendum - forget the renegotiation; it is not what matters

'A place at the table where the rules of the world's largest single market are made'...'that is a seat no rational prime minster would vacate'.

'If Britain were to leave, Mr Cameron (or his successor) will promptly have to negotiate a way back into the single market, but from the diminished position of a supplicant to the very same leaders whose efforts at friendly compromise will just have been spurned.'

These extracts from the leading article in the Guardian of 6 February 2016 say it all, or nearly all.

The EU is a single market and that is where its true value lies. Nevertheless it is also a group of nations with a common bond who can, if they have the will, speak with a common and loud voice on the world stage. This stage is dominated by the USA whose future leadership is worrying, by Russia whose current leadership is terrifying (you might like to look at Natalie Nougayrede's article) and by China whose leadership for some time will be focused on massive internal issues.

British politicians have never since Edward Heath played a full part at the European table. If they fail to do so,  they have only themselves to blame if the direction in which the Union moves is not to their liking. Britain could and should have very strong voice.

If the British people are worried about immigration and the 'threat' of refugees, leaving the EU will not make a bean of difference unless they also wish for Britain to leave the world stage. Britain has much to offer the 21st century world but will be able to play its part immeasurably more effectively if it does so as a full and committed member of an EU run by the politicians of member countries and not by bureaucrats.

In relation to the renegotiation, Martin Kettle suggest that Prime Minister Cameron has achieved a good deal

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