Britain And The EU: In Or Out?

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s offer of a referendum on UK membership of the EU has set the agenda for the 2015 general election, but more importantly, it has set up a pivotal moment for determining the country’s relationship with Europe.

Britain’s commitment to the entire ‘European project’ has long been half-hearted, at least compared to Germany, France, and several other countries. Previous British governments have shied away from a referendum on Europe (at least since the 1970s), and this has led to frustration among British voters that they have not been consulted about further integration.

Cameron is now offering a referendum in the second half of his putative second term, which would put its timeframe somewhere around 2017. That is still some time away, and much could change between now and then, making the outcome of such a referendum difficult to predict, regardless of what opinion polls today may suggest.

In Business Monitor Online today, we have published a special feature article on the implications of Cameron’s EU referendum pledge. Among the topics we discuss are:

  • Cameron’s motivations for announcing the referendum
  • The internal dynamics of the Conservative party
  • The dilemma faced by the opposition Labour party
  • The risk that Cameron may misjudge the public mood
  • The impact of Cameron’s speech on other EU states
  • The changing economic relationship between the UK and the EU
  • The risks of more uncertainty for Britain, and Cameron himself