EU: British Euroskepticism and Crises Summits

British Prime Minister, David Cameron, was able to defeat Conservative calls for an in/out referendum on British membership in the European Union.

David Cameron Defeats Call for In/Out Referendum

As many as 70 Conservative members of parliament (MPs) were expected to vote for a referendum that could have seen the United Kingdom exit the EU or re-negotiate its membership, but on Monday, Cameron drove back dissent from these Euroskeptics within his own party.  Cameron defended the UK’s membership in the EU as being in the British interest given that Britain conducted 50% of its exports with the bloc.  Despite being a well-known Euroskeptics, William Hague backed the premiere state that now was the time to help the EU, believing that calls for a referendum were at the wrong time.  The proposal stood little chance of passing, as ll major British parties instructed their parliamentarians to vote against the referendum.  In the end, 483 voted, with 372 voting against the referendum, clearly indicating the remaining strength of pro-EU sentiment in the Commons.

“When your neighbor’s house is on fire, your first impulse should be to help them to put out the flames – not least to stop the flames reaching your own house.” – David Cameron, Conservative Prime Minister of Britain

The Commons debate on the issues was prompted after a petition was signed by more than 100,000 people, mainly responsible were the backbench business committee.  The government was expected to win easily, as happened, but even if it has won, the result would not be binding on ministers.  The true results of the call for referendum, even though it failed, is that it has illustrated the biggest rebellion David Cameron has suffered since entering Downing Street.  According to Sir George Young, an approximate 80 or 81 Tory MPs had rebelled against the Prime Minister.  With a supposed 61% of Britons calling for a referendum, with 34% of whom want to leave the EU, the belief that the UK Parliament is becoming even more “impotent” as a “tentacle” of the EU which has intruded on more areas of national life, is clearly gaining support.

Britain’s opt-out in the European Monetary Union, thus distancing itself from the Euro, illustrated its past and present relations with Euroskepticism which was evident under Margaret Thatcher and every Prime Minister since.  Under Margaret Thatcher, the EU underwent the British Budgetary Question in which Britons complained about the extent of their contributions to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).  Under John Major, the successor of Margaret Thatcher, the UK exited from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) which sought to reduce exchange rate variability and achieve monetary stability in Europe.  Under Gordon Brown, the British Treasury launched a test of the European single currency by setting five economic tests to ascertain whether the economic case had been made.  In June, the Treasury responded that the tests had not be passed.  Now, under David Cameron, has beat past calls for the referendum but has stated that he remained firmly committed to combating supranationalism in Brussels by bringing back more power to Britain.

“At this moment of all moments, the uncertainty that would ensure from Britain turning inwards over the next few years, to debate an in/out referendum is something our country cannot afford.  The best answer to the concerns of the European Union is to reform the way it works, not to leave it.” – Ed Miliband, Labour leader

Faced with a long line of Euroskepticism in Britain, the yearning from David Cameron to be more involved in the crisis talks and lecture the Euro-zone leaders from afar without participating in the single currency has come under fire from Euro-zone leaders.  Cameron has clashed with French President Nicolas Sarkozy over the UK’s involvement in discussion about the Euro-zone crisis.  Cameron has insisted on the presence of all EU leaders to be present at the summits, including the upcoming Wednesday summit, which was refuted by Sarkozy.  The French leader is reported to have said that he was “sick” of reading in newspapers about the advice Cameron and his Chancellor George Osborne were offering the Euro-zone.

The clash came after Sunday’s meeting of EU leaders seeking an agreement to change the Union’s treaty if necessary to help resolve the crisis.  The summit came after persistent calls for resolution to the escalating crisis, a greater move towards fiscal and economic integration.  Cameron, further fueling the wedge between Franco-Anglo relations, has supposedly secured safeguards to ensure that Britain’s national interest within the EU.  According to the nation that had opted out for an institution for further integration and interdependence, has called for further progress and supranationalism.  Leveraging the European Financial Stability Facility rescue fund to more than 1 trillion Euros and how far to cut bank holdings on Greek debt have emerged as two main hurdles in the way of a deal to stop the debt crisis.  Cameron’s steadfast “loyalty” to the amalgamation of fiscal interdependence within the EU is evident in past policies of the UK, as well as his desire to safeguard the interests of countries that want to stay outside the Euro.  Cameron’s hypocritical words comes as the pound remains increasingly inflated, social instability rises and political cleavages widen.

“We are still missing some important parts of the complex puzzle that is how to solve Europe’s debt crisis.  The biggest challenge for the German Chancellor over the next 48 hours is to persuade the German Bundestag to agree to the changes to the EFSF.” – Kathleen Brooks, research director at Forex.com in London

Nevertheless, with the first two crises summits in Brussels ending yesterday, attention is shifting back to Berlin as the blueprint is completed on how to aid banks and strengthen the International Monetary Fund’s role.  European leaders are working on proposals to leverage the EFSF to increase its reach to more than 1 trillion Euros. Leaders are also urging financial institutions to accept losses of between 50% and 60% on their Greek debt.  Progress was illustrated by a preliminary provisional deal on Saturday that will see banks raise more than 100 billion Euros in new capital to shield them against possible losses to indebted countries.  According to Robert Peston, 100 billion euros agreed in the deal will be provided to banks by commercial investors, national governments and the EU’s bailout fund.  Germany’s political opposition has succeeded in ensuring plans to enhance the Europe’s bailout fund to be brought to a vote in parliament on Wednesday.  The German Bundestag won new power over budgetary matter after complaints by coalition lawmakers that they were supposedly being steamrolled into accepting decision made in Brussels affecting the German budget.  The powers were bolstered by a September 7th decision by the Federal Constitutional Court that upheld Germany’s participation in Europe’s bailout fund so long as the Bundestag maintained its authority over Germany’s finances.

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One response to “EU: British Euroskepticism and Crises Summits

  1. Pingback: EU: Britain’s Negligence and Euroskepticism | Year of 1989

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