What's the real reason to hold an EU referendum?


What's a Europe referendum for? Does that sound like a silly question?

Surely, you might say, it's obvious that a referendum is for giving the public a say on Britain's future in Europe.

Well, no, actually.

Some want a referendum because they think the people will do what no mainstream political leader dare - get us out.

Others - who want the UK to stay in Europe - want a vote to put pressure on Europe's politicians to give the UK what it wants.

Many Eurosceptics - both those who want to stay in and those who would sooner get out - believe it will put pressure on a British government to negotiate harder.

Most Tories hope that, whatever the vote is on, the promise of a referendum will help them see off UKIP.

A growing number of Conservatives believe, as Harold Wilson did in 1975, that a referendum is the only way of stopping their party splitting on the issue of Europe.

Very few, in my experience, simply want to know what the public thinks.

PS David Cameron and Liam Fox appear to be contemplating the same sort of referendum - a post renegotiation poll. What separates them is that the prime minister is clear that Britain needs to stay in whereas his former defence secretary is now ready to contemplate getting out. That's the divide that really matters.

Nick Robinson, Political editor Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Surely the principle of government that we have adopted is to elect people to become expert on the pros and cons of complex political issues; and then exercise their informed judgement on our behalf? If not, what is the role of Parliament? To expect UK voters to become sufficiently expert to produce a valid consensus on membership of the EU is to court disaster - which exit would surely be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    "What's the real reason to hold an EU referendum?"

    If you under stand the reason for that referendum,no explanation is needed,If not,no explanation is possible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    The EU is obviously heading for some sort of cobbled together future political union which will be a disaster for Britain and probably for Europe. The EU has been a drain on this nation for far too long and we must now set our sights higher than the mediocrity of Europe and address our business and political associations with the emerging countries of Asia, particularly India and China.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    I must reinforce what Alanjackson #3 said, This debate is about membership of the EU, and that is a remarkably complex issue. To simply reduce it to a "Land of Hope & Glory" debate is to mis-serve and then F U D will follow. The UK (IMHO) is better off in the EU, (as Scotland is better off within the EU). I fail to see what the problem with closer integration is, economicly Big is often beautiful

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Who in the UK will have the time to read very thing on the EU to make a proper choice or will we have to trust what the yes campaign say or the no campaign say as both sides will have there own reasons for getting us to vote one way or the other. As any government and press since we have joined the EU have only told us about the parts of the EU they think we need to know about never the full story


Comments 5 of 44



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