He’s wrong. We need a referendumby Norman Lamont / June 18, 2015 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2015 issue of Prospect Magazine
The Duke of Wellington once claimed that the British constitution was incapable of improvement. Writing in Prospect, Peter Mandelson (“What Cameron knows about Europe,”) does not see any faults of any kind in the European Union and is totally opposed to any attempt by Britain to try and improve the terms of its relationship with it.
Not many people, even those who support our membership, would take such a complacent view. The EU is not cost free, either financially or in terms of the regulatory burden. The financial services industry, for instance, is the subject of harmful and unsympathetic regulation. Despite concerted attempts to chill people’s blood at the prospect of the EU referendum, there are plenty of people in the business community who support the aim of negotiating to improve the terms of our membership.
Mandelson claims that people are not interested in the issue of Europe. He ignores the fact that four million people voted in the election for a party that advocates exit from the EU without attempted reform. There must have been many others who voted for the Conservative Party’s pledge to renegotiate the terms of our membership and then put the results to an in/out referendum.
People might not often cite Europe as an issue of concern, but many are certainly concerned about some of the EU’s effects, such as the drain on our public finances (our contribution to the EU budget this year is forecast to be £14bn), the effect on immigration, the distortion of food prices through the Common Agricultural Policy and the impact on our energy policy, to name just some examples.