Why the UK is not ready for an EU referendum

In a superbly thought through blog post, Witterings from Witney has turned his attention to Monday’s debate on a Motion relating to the holding of a national referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.

As WfW rightly points out, the European Union’s process of acquis communautaire means that once the EU assumes competence over any area of government it cannot be returned to member states while that nation remains a member, so the prospect of renegotiating EU governance over the UK and repatriating powers and remaining a member of the EU is a pipe dream.

The big problem is that in this country too many voters do not understand this because the do not know how the EU works or is structured.  This lack of knowledge is why poll results professing to declare what the public would like to do about our membership of the EU, such as the YouGov covered in the Spectator’s Coffee House blog (which WfW references in his post) are pie in the sky.  For example:

The poll results also demonstrate that only a small percentage of the public would vote for the country’s current set-up with the European Union if they had the chance. Only 15 per cent would vote to stay in, compared to 28 per cent who would vote to leave, while 47 per cent would plump for renegotiation. If forced to chose between In or Out, the public splits 31 to 52.

For all the value that poll analysis has it may as well read:

The poll results also demonstrate that only a small percentage of the public would want to stay inside a burning building if they had the chance. Only 15 per cent would want to stay in, compared to 28 per cent who would want to leave, while 47 per cent would plump for a magic sky fairy to appear and ask the fire to undo all the damage it has caused and quietly extinguish itself.  If forced to chose between staying In or getting Out, the public splits 31 to 52.

The degree of public ignorance about what is and isn’t possible as an EU member confirms this country’s population is not anywhere close to being able to make an informed choice if presented with In/Out/Renegotiate options.

The calls for a referendum by enthusiastic Eurosceptics risk being seized upon by the Europlastics as an opportunity to spike the issue for decades by offering a false choice that could never be carried out, and using that vote outcome as the basis for maintaining the status quo.  Most of the media has no interest in explaining to people the reality of the situation – and the politicians certainly don’t.

This country’s people must have their say about how this country is governed, but it must be an informed choice.  That is not possible at this time.

Update: Richard North asks Eurosceptics one simple question over on EU Referendum – Still think you would win?

16 Responses to “Why the UK is not ready for an EU referendum”

  1. 1 Brian H 22/10/2011 at 11:17 pm

    As I posted on another thread:

    The conspiracy is to deprive the voters of any choice that resembles what they actually want.

    Offering fake choices is one tactical variation, probably the most common.

  2. 2 don wreford 23/10/2011 at 3:38 am

    The writer informs us as to our ignorance on EU membership, if the public are so badly informed can the writer illuminate us to a comprehensive understanding of what we do not know? but should, it appears as if the public are mystified as to what it is we are supposed to know, is it surprising that we may have to have a phd on politics to understand? we now seem to be victims of language that only a the few are able to understand the rules and regulations of the puzzle that now besets mankind and just at the time when we are now given the right to speak we are unable to find the right technical symbols to express our selves, we must remain dumbfounded, subject to criticism for our inability to find our voice and the correct presentation to signify what it is that we are not, whilst we attempt to find funds albeit as a petrol attendant or dishwasher to save half a million dollars to afford us the privilege of education, pertaining to use the correct language that the status quo find acceptable.

  3. 3 Autonomous Mind 23/10/2011 at 8:50 am

    Sorry Don. I tried, I really did, but your comment is impenetrable.

  4. 4 Matt Davies 23/10/2011 at 8:51 am

    Isn’t part of a referendum’s job to make sure both sides get a chance to doing the informing before the vote? I really don’t understand the logic of this article.

    Anyone who was at the people’s pledge gig this Saturday, would have come away wondering what the pro-EU argument really is, because in my opinion they have no argument.

    If the British people we inclined to vote yes even now, then we would have to accept that this country is actually finished and make arrangements to escape.

    My belief is there is no way the British people could be conned again on this. We need to rediscover our spines and get it done.

  5. 5 WitteringsfromWitney 23/10/2011 at 10:09 am

    Many thanks for the link AM and your description of my post. You are most kind.

  6. 6 EU Hypocrisy 23/10/2011 at 10:19 am

    A referendum on EFTA or EU is both a good option and winnable one.

    It clearly identifies what is going – the political union of EU membership and what the alternativebeing moved to is – a legal framework for trade with Europe. It also enables campaigners to point out living examples – Switzerland and Norway

    An EFTA or EU referendum also has more or less the same effect as in / out, but without looking to worrying for the waverers or the neutrals.

  7. 7 BJ 23/10/2011 at 10:26 am

    In a way I agree with Matt Davies’ comment above.

    If there was one failing of UKIP that has had me fuming over the last 10 years is their inability to inform the people of this country of what was being done in their name and with their taxes.

    I have always maintained that a few well researched but simply written A4 size information sheets – pointing out how our institutions and parliamentary representatives have been corrupted by the EU – these could have been put up on a central point of reference website, accessible to all to download, print off, and deliver to ones neighbours.

    We need somebody, and UKIP sets themselves up to fulfil this duty, to inform us – glossy magazines to the already converted just doesn’t do it.

    If, by some miracle, Parliament were to vote for a referendum then UKIP must be ready with this type of material; I maintain, win the vote or no, UKIP should be pumping out this stuff anyway.

    And if you ask the question “why don’t you do it” – I do in my own amateurish way.

  8. 8 Restoring Britain 23/10/2011 at 10:40 am

    Good post AM.

    My personal view is that we’re beyond a referendum but right now such a message is the only thing the people can grasp. I think this debate represents a starting point and nothing more as it brings things about our MPs and PM into sharp relief, but for me it is a foothold.

    It now falls to us and those politicians who really do want a referendum with an out result to make the case in a way people understand.

    As someone who rails againsts the hypocrisy of the statist left and those who support the idea of a supra national state I think there is something to be learned form them. They can pick something like this and make it work for them because they are organised for the argument. The other thing they do well is they distill the complex into a simple message that can appeal to someone whose only interest is how many women has Frankie from Xfactor bedded.

    David Horrowitz did a good article on this:


    That is the bit we need to work on because if they knew what we know, things might be different.

  9. 9 Autonomous Mind 23/10/2011 at 11:09 am

    Matt Davies, let me help you with the logic of this article.

    People supporting an impossible option

    You believe the British people could not be conned again. I present to you clear evidence in the poll findiing above that they are already falling for the con hook, line and sinker. Any referendum with the ‘renegotiation’ option will kill off the ‘Out’ movement. Unless a prospective referendum is a straight In/Out choice the Europhiles and Europlastics will succeed in binding this country into the EU for good. Britain, and the idea of representative democracy in this country, will be finished.

  10. 10 Dave H 23/10/2011 at 11:26 am

    If now is not the right time, then one has to wonder when the ‘right’ time will arrive. I suspect that if it’s left to the politicians, it will never quite arrive because there will always be a good reason why not.

    Therefore, the only way it will ever happen is when the people push hard enough, and that can only be done at particular points of stress in the system such as now. One could argue that these are indeed the worst times for a referendum, but for that I blame the politicians who have effectively forced the people to do it this way. If Cameron had stated ‘referendum by date X’, we wouldn’t be pushing for it so hard now.

  11. 11 Brian H 24/10/2011 at 11:44 am

    “Oops! We forgot. Re-negotiation is illegal. Sorry, chaps! I guess we’ll just muddle on ….”

  12. 12 StrongUnitedKingdom 24/10/2011 at 3:28 pm

    There will never be a good time for a referendum. It will always be a fixed process. The EU will flood it with money, the MP who have been bought by it will support it, the likes of the BBC will flaunt it. However the longer we leave it the worse it gets. Cameron Hague and the like all know this, time is on their side. An outright vote against the EU would be very difficult to counter, whereas an uprising of the people would be easy as the state is well armed and has spent years giving itself excessive powers against the people. Even if people fall for the deceitful “thirdway” or renegotiation which is nonsense, it would still give us a platform to come back at this in a couple of years if nothing had happened.

    The process needs to be defined and agreed as fair, as do the success measures of renegotiation before the referendum. Both will fail of course. Then we have the chance to come back again at them.

    The other options are of course the out of EU vote takes the day, or we lose and must resort to continued action.

    Let us not forget the current membership of the EU is illegal under our Constitution. It is our duty to retake the control of this country and our future. This is not a negotiation with the EU, this is the exercise of democracy in our Sovereign country.

  13. 13 Katabasis 27/10/2011 at 9:38 am

    This only makes me all the more determined to fight them, however alas, I have to agree with the thrust of your assessment AM:

    I argued against the EU in a debate at UCL on Tuesday night. I spelled out exactly how the idea of “renegotiation” was a complete fantasy; even pointing out the specific articles in the Lisbon amended treaties and explaining exactly how the other 26 member states would have a vested interest in stopping UK concessions. I also got a lot of help from speakers from the floor who made brief speeches in support.

    Despite this we only narrowly won the vote – 21 for, 18 against and with about 10 abstensions. And this was amongst a body of students with a direct interest in the effects of the EU on the UK.

  14. 14 Katabasis 27/10/2011 at 9:49 am

    Just to add – I don’t think even most of our Political Class understand these points. Those of us in the Eurosceptic camp(s) appear to be much better informed than our MPs on the matter.

    This is one of those issues too where the media class is very much our enemy also. I find it terrifying that some such as Vague Hague can continually assert the “renegotiation” mantra without being challenged by the journalists. And I can’t decide what I find more frightening – that our foreign policy minister is so badly informed or is consciously choosing to lie so outrageously.

  15. 15 stephen martin 28/01/2012 at 1:22 am

    Politicians telling lies !!!!! …….no never ,wouldn`t even enter their tiny minds

  1. 1 pointless posturing « offwitheirheads Trackback on 23/10/2011 at 10:50 am
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