British MPs have rejected on Monday night a call to hold referendum on the country’s EU membership with 372 majority. The result comes despite a significant rebellion against Prime Minister David Cameron.
The vote was forced after over 100,000 people signed an online petition demanding a say in their future. The vote will not be binding and will not come into effect within five years, but Prime Minister David Cameron is a staunch supporter of the EU and faces a rebellion in his own party.
Almost 60 Conservative MPs are defying government orders and will support the idea of a nationwide referendum. Cameron has urged dissenting Tories to reconsider, saying this is a delicate time for the EU. But some MPs remain defiant and are pledging to maintain their stances even if it might cost them their jobs.
Some 70 per cent of respondents polled by the Guardian/ICM Research in the UK say they want a vote on Britain’s EU membership, with 49 per cent saying they want to use the referendum to vote the UK out of the EU, as opposed to the 40 per cent preferring to stay.
Nevertheless, Nigel Farage, an MEP from the UK Independence Party, says Conservative and Labor support of EU membership is “total” and they would have never questioned it in parliament but for the online petition. At the end of the day, only 70 out of 650 MPs are likely to support the idea of a referendum to leave the EU.
The UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973. It then voted to remain in the group in a public referendum in 1975. As the name of the group implied, at the time it was seen as an economic union, but over time this union has become increasingly binding on the political and legal fronts. Moreover, now questions are rising whether Great Britain could have all the benefits from being an EU member by simply framing its deals with Europe by a free trade agreement.
Farage does not believe that EU membership brings any profit to the UK. He argues that in times of recession, the UK cannot afford EU laws any longer.
“What we are talking about is open-border unlimited immigration to Britain, the European Convention on Human Rights turning our legal system literally upside down, regulations damaging British businesses, job losses and a bill of £44 million per day for this club,” Farage told RT.
Speaking at the EU summit in Brussels on Sunday, David Cameron said he was “firmly committed” to grasping back some powers from the EU, but the timing to leave the union was poor. Cameron cited the panic on bonds markets triggered by the continuing crisis of the eurozone. But Farage believes that keeping to the legislation of the EU’s sinking ship costs the UK 5 per cent of GDP, which is not the best option, given the current economic outlook.
“The question now, at a time of deep recession, with unemployment at 17 percent year high, is not whether we can afford to leave the EU. It is, can we afford to stay?” says Nigel Farage.
‘EU is a millstone around Britain’s neck’
The chairman of the foreign policy think tank “Bruges Group” believes that the EU is a millstone around Britain’s neck, and he is calling for changes in the situation. Robert Oulds told RT that trade benefits with the European Union do not have to cease if Britain pulls out of the EU.
“The EU is an enormous cost to both the British taxpayers and the British economy. British taxpayers have to pay billions to the EU and British businesses have been burdened by excessive EU regulations, and really, we want to have a say in our own country again,” Oulds told RT.
Oulds cited several examples of countries that do not have EU membership, yet still enjoy mutually beneficial relations with it. He told RT that Britain deserves to be in charge of its policies, and that the price citizens are paying for membership is unjustifiably high.
Jon Gaunt, from the Vote UK out of EU organization, has bitterly criticized the British MPs for what he calls “the fear of losing their jobs.” While the Commons will be debating how to stay in the EU, British people are asking why they should pay for other people’s mistakes, pointed out the campaigner.
“It is not our problem to sort out the problems in Greece. And tell me why we should vote to the age of 72 or 73 to pay for anyone living in downtown Athens to retire at 50? It’s the end. This Eurostate is collapsing while we speak,” Gaunt told RT.
Still Gaunt underlines that even if approved, the referendum will not take place earlier than next year, which will provide plenty of time for debate.