Timothy Garton Ash: A Referendum on Europe? Bring it on...
Timothy Garton Ash is a historian, political writer and Guardian columnist.
As we approach the 40th anniversary of Britain joining what was then just the European Economic Community, there is only one good way forward for the tortuous domestic politics of Britain's so-called European policy. This is for the leaders of the three main parties in the Westminster parliament to commit themselves to hold a straightforward "in or out" referendum once the shape of the new European Union that is emerging from the eurozone crisis, and the terms available in it for Britain, have become clear.
Since the eurozone is now likely to be saved, but only quite slowly, step-by-step, à la Merkel, and since Britain's position can only be clarified once the political consequences of saving the eurozone have emerged, that moment will arrive some time in the life of the next parliament: between 2015 and 2020, on current plans.
This is what David Cameron's tantrically delayed Europe speech, which he has now scheduled for mid-January, should promise. If Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have the guts and gumption, they will beat Cameron to it and steal his thunder – not to mention, some of Ukip's lightning. All of them can quite reasonably refer to the exhaustive review of the "balance of competences" between the UK and the EU being conducted across Whitehall, and to be completed only in 2014, as a starting point for the conversation across the Channel. There would then be a settled national position. We, the people, will have the chance to decide whether we want to be in or out, as soon as we have an answer to the essential prior question: "In or out of what?"..
comments powered by Disqus
- Joan Baez, Sly Stone, Steve Martin, Ben E. King -- all honored by the Library of Congress
- StoryCorps to Launch Global Expansion With $1M TED Prize
- Hofstra Event Looks at Bush Presidency
- Did Israel steal uranium from a town in Pennsylvania in the 1960s?
- Sequel to Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom to be published next year
- OAH denounces anti-gay legislation signed by Indiana governor
- Emory’s Leslie Harris says we should remember the racist roots of American colleges as we think about what went wrong at OU and other schools
- Stanford historian looks to the U.S. Postal Service to map the boom and bust of 19th-century American West
- U.S. historian denounces Japanese scholars' statement over wartime sexual slavery
- Timothy V Johnson Named Head of Tamiment Library