Facing a dramatic decline in support for his party due to its continued, albeit half-hearted, support for the controversial European Union, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron finally promised British subjects a referendum on whether or not to leave the EU — in five years. However, despite the tsunami of public opposition to the union, establishment figures from around the world, including the Obama administration, are using transparent fear-mongering tactics warning Britons to stick with the embattled super state or face dire consequences.
Still, with the liberty-minded U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) surging in opinion polls, thanks in large measure to its steadfast opposition to continued obedience to power-hungry “eurocrats” in Brussels, Cameron’s Conservative Party has taken a serious beating, putting its reelection prospects in jeopardy. Of course, many Conservative Party political leaders have long supported withdrawal from the EU, but until very recently, Prime Minister Cameron had waffled on the issue of letting the people decide for themselves.
Indeed, despite the grandstanding, Cameron, who had already suggested a referendum before he came to power but later backtracked, says he still supports U.K. membership in the union, asking only that some of the powers usurped by the EU be repatriated to London to avoid a so-called “Brexit” — a British exit from the union. In the face of overwhelming pressure from across the nation, and even within his own party, however, Cameron finally decided to announce that, if he is reelected, Britons will get to vote on continued membership. First, though, he plans to seek concessions from Brussels.
"It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time for us to settle this question about Britain and Europe," Cameron said in a widely quoted speech, noting that his party would, in the meantime, work to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership in the EU. "When we have negotiated that new settlement, we will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in or out choice to stay in the European Union on these new terms; or come out altogether. It will be an in-out referendum."
If the referendum were held today, polls show that a majority of voters would support seceding from the EU entirely. The controversial entity, which started out as a sort of “free trade” pact but gradually morphed into a costly and overbearing machine that spews forth the vast majority of laws governing its member states, has become increasingly despised among the British people.
“When given a straight ‘in/out’ choice, currently public opinion is strongly towards withdrawal, and when given the option of staying in the EU on renegotiated terms there is still only 50 per cent support,” noted Joe Twyman, director of political and social research for YouGov, which conducts polls on public sentiments. “Therefore, David Cameron will have to hope he is able to persuade enough voters that whatever negotiation he does achieve is accepted by the British people, because if he doesn’t then we could well be headed for the Brexit he hopes to avoid.”
The global “establishment,” however, has been plotting its scheme for a united Europe for generations, and it will not let the dream go down in flames without a serious fight. Even President Obama has joined the chorus of powerful figures calling on the Brits to reconsider. According to U.K. news reports, the administration has been pestering Cameron and other British officials to continue their submission to Brussels regardless of what voters and taxpayers demand, and apparently it is having an effect.
“The President underscored our close alliance with the United Kingdom and said that the United States values a strong U.K. in a strong European Union, which makes critical contributions to peace, prosperity, and security in Europe and around the world,” the White House claimed in a statement quoted in British news reports. Prior to that, top U.S. State Department officials had been quietly working to persuade U.K. officials not to abandon the bloated EU, too.
However, some analysts noted that Obama’s interference may have backfired; sparking outrage among Britons who say the U.S. president has no business interfering in the affairs of a sovereign nation. “The [Obama administration’s comments] will also be warmly received in the European Commission, music to the ears of every Brussels apparatchik,” noted Nile Gardiner in the U.K. Telegraph, adding that Obama "worships" the EU. “But they don’t reflect the views of a clear majority of British people, who would vote to leave the EU if given the opportunity to do so in a referendum.”
Meanwhile, the Financial Times, one of the most prominent establishment media outlets, published a screed citing numerous “experts” who warned that Britain would suffer economically if it were to leave the union. Separately, Mohamed El-Erian, chief executive of Pimco, one of the biggest investment funds in the world, has been warning that the impact on the U.K. economy of a withdrawal could be serious.
“Whichever way you look at this, Prime Minister David Cameron has materially increased the probability that, beyond 2017, Poland rather than the U.K. will be among the three largest economies defining the scale and scope of European regional integration,” he wrote in Fortune magazine, saying that while it may be politically popular, a Brexit could risk some reduction in economic growth. “Let’s hope that he also has a Plan B that would limit the potential downside to Britain’s standard of living.”
Other big corporations have also been lobbying against allowing the British people to decide for themselves whether or not they wish to be shackled to the increasingly totalitarian entity in Brussels. Both Ford and BMW, for example, warned that the U.K. would face more economic problems if it were to stop obeying EU dictates and sending its taxpayers’ money to eurocrats for redistribution and bureaucratic salaries.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage, though, is quite pleased about the shift in the debate sparked in no small part due to the surging popularity of the liberty-oriented, sovereignty-protecting political party he leads. "Cameron's speech was the moment when the debate on Europe changed," explained the witty politician, whose hard-hitting speeches in the European “Parliament” have made him famous worldwide. He also told Reuters that the Prime Minister’s referendum pledge was the UKIP's "greatest victory to date," and that it was only a matter of time before Britain finally splits from the EU.
However, Farage is skeptical that Cameron will hold on to power after the next election, and he doubts that the prime minister would be able to secure any real concessions from the EU even if he were to remain in office. "There is no substantial renegotiation to be had," Farage said. "He'll get nowhere." The UKIP leader, a former trader, also suspects that Cameron would break his referendum promise, citing previous broken pledges by the prime minister in recent years.
Farage also blasted the establishment elites warning of doom and gloom if Britain were to reclaim its independence. "The same idiots that are now telling us that unless we stay part of the EU single market we're doomed are the same idiots who told us if we didn't join the euro we'd lose all that business," he explained. "What do they know?"
Like countless other analysts and experts, Farage and members of his party point to Switzerland and Norway. Neither country is a member of the EU, yet both are far more prosperous than the EU generally — Norway mostly because of its oil wealth; Switzerland because of its famous economic liberty, its financial prowess, and its freedom from draconian taxes and EU mandates. Both nations continue to trade freely with Europe, but they also maintain a much greater degree of sovereignty.
Photo of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron making a speech on a referendum over a British exit from the EU: AP Images
U.K. May Soon Vote to Leave EU Despite Massive Pressure