View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Out of the union

A couple of days ago, I set out my opinion on the referendum on Scottish independence, which is to be held sometime in October 2014. The SNP party is seeking to secede from the United Kingdom, after 306 years.

Today, Mr Cameron, British prime minister and (more importantly) leader of the Conservative party in the UK parliament, announced that he would call for a referendum on EU membership of the UK - if he is reelected at the next general election, which will be held in May 2015 at the latest. Mr Cameron, in my opinion, has nailed his colours to the mast, and probably shortened the lifetime of his coalition with the Liberal Democrats, who are strongly in favour of continued EU membership. However, in recent months, the UK Independence Party has gained a lot of votes in various elections. There is the long-standing aversion to the EU within the Conservatives, something that toppled Margaret Thatcher out of government in 1990.

From an area of the UK which has benefited greatly by EU membership, I find this stance sheer and utter lunacy. The EU is not just about the euro, which is admittedly not the raging success it was set out to be on its launch in 2002. The EU is not just about regulations - it was founded in 1957 to facilitate trade between member states. It took many years for the UK to be admitted to the EU, and has been a pain in the neck ever since. However, Great Britain has more to lose from ending its EU membership than the EU itself, more than many people, including the so-called Euro-sceptics, realise.

Like Alex Salmond's proposed secession of Scotland from the United Kingdom, the UK itself will be greatly diminished upon getting out of the EU union. Mr Salmond, however, appears to be desparate to be part of the EU. Will a vote against Scottish independence now mean a vote against continued membership of the EU by a continued UK?

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