This morning David Cameron has announced that the British public should have their say on whether we should be in or out of the European Union. It has been a contentious issue which has split many Conservative parties apart in the past and this has been a long awaited speech. Originally due to take place last week, it was delayed due to the crisis in Algeria with British workers being taken hostage.
The Prime Minister is looking to hold referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU in 2017, based upon the result of talks he wants to have with the EU. It will be a simple “in or out” question, answered by the British public;
“It is time for the British people to have their say… It is time to settle this European question in British politics. I say to the British people: this will be your decision.”
There are a huge list of if’s regarding this referendum through conditions, agreements, discussions and more. Here are just some of the major barriers to this going ahead.
Firstly David Cameron and the conservatives need to be re-elected into office in at the next general election. The timescale has angered some Eurosceptics as there is the risk they will not be re-elected.
Secondly the Prime Minister needs to have a discussion with the EU itself to come to an agreement on what the new terms would be. It has been long desired by the Conservatives to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership in the EU, however David Cameron failed to outline what this new agreement would look like.
He also failed to mention what would happen to the referendum if negotiations did not go his way.
France and Germany have both warned that it would not be possible for the UK to “cherry-pick” what they wanted from the EU membership.
Additionally US president Barack Obama has said that Britain should stay in the EU and that he “values a strong UK in a strong European Union”.
Nick Clegg has commented that the fact the referendum is not likely to be held till 2017 will give Britain years of “uncertainty” and will put a strain on economic growth and jobs.
It is a huge decision for the country to make and will impact on everyone from financial services selling factoring services to an independent shop who sells imports from other EU countries. The European Union membership has many benefits to Britain including strong trade links.
This news is still very much in the early days and many things are yet to be decided and agreed upon however it will definitely impact the economy and small businesses, even if the vote doesn’t even go ahead.