Contrary to expectation the Conservative party made a landslide victory in the UK election and are to lead the British government again. This is rather good news.
The UK’s economy is improving. The sharp reduction in government spending has also led to a reduction in unemployment. A warning to anyone who might doubt it: there is no other way! Announced before the election, accepted in spite of their painful consequences, these reforms did not take the electorate unawares and it has asked for a further five years. A marvellous lesson!
But are Europeans right to be concerned about the promised referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union which ruined the electoral hopes of the anti-European camp?
Given the irrational nature of the European debate in the UK this dangerous deadline will at least have the merit of clarifying the position of the British government regarding its partners for whom today it is simply the rather annoying “Mr NO”.
An exit of the Union by the UK, which no one wants, would be a very long process that would play greatly to its disadvantage (www.robert-schuman.eu/en/doc/questions-d-europe/qe-355-en.pdf). It would firstly be to its detriment because it would lose free access to a market that represents 500 billion euro in its exports (against 60 for China for example), and in all likelihood many European investments that count for 50% of its domestic investments. And what about the 1.8 million of its citizens who live on the continent?
This stable government, now free of the blackmail of its “anti-European” rebels will be able to start serious discussion with a Europe that is now already reforming in a way that should suit it. Above all it will be able to undertake an in-depth, frank explanation with its citizens, who in 1975 already played out the same scenario, with more than 2/3 of them finally opting to remain in Europe.
Obviously we could do without this uncertainty but we have to be confident in the British for them to know where their interests lie. These are evidently within the Union – but it is up to them to say.