Europe – Yes, No, Let’s Have a Vote!

It is not often that I make comments on this blog on national, or international topics, but the latest bun-fight between the 27 member states of the European Union has compelled me to.

Let’s start with a little bit of praise for Gordon Brown. If it was not for his instistence of the five economic tests being passed, Tony Blair would have had us signed up and using the Euro quicker than the coins could have been minted. Also his other great move was to make the Bank of England independent from the Government. Well done, Gordon. Then again, he did change the banking regulations to a more relaxed, self-administered process which you could argue is part of the cause to the worldwide financial mess we are now in.

The latest summit to save the euro had 26 of the member states sign an accord. Britain decided to use its veto and say no. Was this the right move? Well who knows because the actual details to why the PM turned it down is a little blurred. Those who want to find a simplistic answer say it was to protect those greedy banker mates of his. I feel this is child like simplicity because the financial industry is not just about a bunch of slacked-jawed, pinstriped suited buffoons. It is a world trading market, which is taxed by the UK Government. So it is right the PM makes sure it is protected.

However, this leads on to the bigger debate of Europe. Historically Britain has always had suspicions on the motives of ‘Johnny Foreigner’ from across the channel. The French, and in my opinion, the ungrateful General de Gaulle vetoed Britain’s membership of the EEC  in ’63 and ’67. It was not until de Gaulle fell from power that Britain joined the EEC on the third attempt in 1973. As de Gaulle is quoted: “France has no friends, only interests”. Has much changed since then?

Since 1973 no one in Britain outside the various governments, has had a say on Europe. We have been promised a referendum by the various political parties, but when is comes to discussing a referendum, all the parties find an excuse not to have one. Is this because the answer will be an Agincourt style two-fingers up at Europe? The again, if the country was allowed a sensible debate on Europe; how Britain fits in, the result might be different.

Until such a time as there a referendum we will have to listen to the various political European squabbles from the sideline. Who knows, maybe my son’s children will finally get a say on Europe.

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