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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

It is time for the United Kingdom to offer clarity, with respect to the European Union. A strong victory for Labour would be a strong signal of confidence in the EU, as would a UKIP or Tory victory, the other way around.

Set me free, why don't you babe?
get out my life, why don't you babe?
'cause you don't really love me
but you keep me hanging on

The upcoming British elections promise to be one of the most exciting elections ever in the United Kingdom. There are a lot of questions regarding these elections:
  • Will the Tories get a majority vote again, after five years of PM David Cameron at the helm in a coalition cabinet with the Liberal Democrats? Or will they have to continue their coalition with LibDem-leader Nick Clegg, after a small victory with just a minority of the votes?
  • Will Ed Milliband of the Labour Party be able to conjure a rabbit out of the hat and win the British elections with a surprise victory? Perhaps, would HE have to form a government in a tandem with the same Nick Clegg?!
  • Will both the Tories and Labour lose massive amounts of Scottish votes to the Scottish National Party and will the SNP in return spark another round of nationalist discussions within the whole United Kingdom?
  • Will professional agitator and bawler Nigel “Ravage” Farage of the UKIP be able to steal away a decisive number of votes and continue the rise of his anti-EU party on his own home turf? 

Perhaps the most important question in these elections and definitely the ‘elephant in the room’ for the European Union, is whether there will indeed be a referendum in the United Kingdom regarding the future membership of the EU or not.

This possible referendum regarding the British membership of the EU was the carrot that Tory-leader David Cameron swung in front of the faces of his grassroots, in a reckless ‘do or die’ action. While this action was probably intended as a lever against the EU, in order to gain extra concessions from it, it could very well be that now the time has arrived that this rogue plan might blow up in Cameron’s face after all.

As a matter of fact, this is what the British elections are really all about in the eyes of many Europeans: could the elections become a Brexit in proxy; for instance when the UKIP or the Tories score a landslide victory?  Or will a majority vote for Labour or the LibDems in fact become a confidence vote for the European Union.

I think that the United Kingdom and its population should now offer clarity to the European Union and the European population and not “keep them hanging on, without really loving them”.

The rest of the European Union has traditionally been very patient with the United Kingdom. In fact, the EU have offered the UK a de facto ‘status aparte’, with very favourable financial rulings and broad privileges for almost the whole duration of their EU membership.

The EU has also respected the fact that the UK would neither become a member of the Schengen zone nor the Euro-zone, although both subjects were considered to be extremely important for the future of the European Union.

The stricter rules for the financial industry with respect to bonuses and general remuneration, which were desired by many leaders within the Euro-zone,  have been torpedoed successfully by the UK, in favour of the banks and insurance companies in the City. The Euro-zone has toothgrindingly accepted this.

Unfortunately, and in spite of all these favourable rulings and privileges, this never sparked a feeling of ‘love and affection’ for the EU within the United Kingdom. Rather to the contrary; positive actions for the United Kingdom were achieved by the British government, while negative consequences of pan-European politics could easily be blamed upon Brussels.

In a sense, the European Union became the favorite ‘mother-in-law’ for the British: the reason for everything that was wrong in the country. But now – as in tomorrow – the time has come for the United Kingdom and its population to disclose their hand of cards and either go all-in for a Brexit or remain within the pack. There is simply no other option to these eyes!

Personally, I would not shed a tear when the United Kingdom would leave the European Union for a series of reasons: 
  • When there has been little love in a relation, you don’t pity the inevitable separation so much when it finally comes, but rather regard it as a fact of life.
  • Things would not change very much in the relation of the EU with the UK. The UK have always been the ‘exterior’ within the European Union, with their own quirks, their own privileges and their own rules, deviating from the generally applicable rules within the rest of the EU.

    Therefore I suspect that the regulations for EU and UK citizens in their mutual contacts would only slightly alter and not dramatically change.
  • The UK will not physically move away from Europe: even if they don’t feel mentally connected with the rest of Europe, they will always be physically connected with it.
  • And last, but not least: the UK and the European Union still need each other badly as trading partners as ever, even after a Brexit. 
    It is nearly impossible that other countries – like the United States, India or China – could fill in the void that
    the EU would leave after a Brexit, with respect to trade, as in  imports and exports of goods, as well as financial and commercial services. Both parties will mutually be most important partners, whether they like it or not. 

So let the Brittons run the gauntlet and show to the rest of Europe and the world what they really want.

When they want to stay in the European Union?

Please let them feel as welcome as ever, but let them stop with putting the handbrake on during all kinds of discussions and important decisions within the EU. Perhaps they could move towards a full, unrestrainted membership of the EU after all, including a British entry into the Schengen zone and the Euro in the long run.

When they want to get out of the European Union?

Please let them feel free to do so. We, as the EU, will love them after all and we will remain their most important business partners. But then they must stop blaming us for the decisions that we take in Brussels; decisions of which they will remain an equally important part, but without having the influence they have nowadays. 

These are the choices for which the United Kingdom really stands tomorrow, on election day.

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