Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Brexit begins

By all accounts, the speech delivered by UK Prime Minister David Cameron this morning outlining his vision for a British disengagement with the EU was short on substance, contradictory and hackneyed. He mixed metaphors, made embarrassing errors reflecting a lack of EU knowledge and managed to enrage his EU partners even without having made specific demands.

But despite its rhetorical flaws, Cameron’s speech will be one for the history books. With three words - "in/out referendum" – Cameron has plunged the UK into four years of economic uncertainty. The prime minister will have the dreaded ‘Brexit vote’, but only in 2017, after the next election. With this he hopes to placate the fiercely eurosceptic wing of his party while at the same time kicking the can down the road. But the long time frame, business leaders and non-EU governments have warned, could be hugely damaging to the British economy. Investors will likely be hesitant to invest in the UK when their future in the European market is uncertain.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Obama warns Cameron over his dangerous EU game

The British eurosceptic right, normally known for their fawning obsession with America, have been in a strange state of cognitive dissonance this week after the Obama Administration delivered this frank warning to British Conservatives on Wednesday: if the UK leaves the EU, it could doom itself to international irrelevance.

Philip Gordon, the US assistant secretary of state for European affairs, said in a speech in London that the UK leaving the EU would be a mistake, implying that Britain’s relationship with the US (and, presumably, most other major global players) would be damaged as a result.
"We have a growing relationship with the European Union as an institution which has a growing voice in the world – and we want to see a strong British voice in that European Union. That is in the American interest," he said. "When Europeans put their resources together and have a collective decision-making function they end up playing a major role in the world…And for the UK to be a part of that stronger, more important voice in the world is something I know a lot of British people welcome."
It isn’t just an academic debate. At the end of this month, British prime minister David Cameron will deliver a speech in The Hague on Britain’s future relationship with the EU. It is expected that he will announce a public referendum on EU membership that will take place in 2018 – well after the next general election and most likely after Cameron is out of office. Cameron has found it increasingly difficult to assuage the demands of a significant contingent of his increasingly anti-European party for a referendum on Britain leaving the EU.