Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, January 21, 2013

Will the EU issue do to Cameron what it did to Thatcher?

The Conservative Party includes a powerful contingent of politicians who desire a unique, negotiated relationship with the EU, not membership. Especially not in the monetary union.

The rising popularity of the UK Independence Party in response to the recession pushes some Tory politicians even farther away from the EU.

This is the issue that brought about the downfall of PM Thatcher in 1990. She preferred that the UK join the North American Free Trade Area rather than join the EU without special concessions by the EU.

Lord Heseltine attacks David Cameron's EU strategy
Lord Heseltine
Lord Heseltine has criticised the prime minister's European strategy, saying an "ill-advised" referendum would jeopardise the UK's business prospects…

The Tory peer also warns the policy would "drive away inward investment". [Inward investment is that which comes from outside the UK.]

Mr Cameron is expected to announce this month that the Tories will offer a referendum after the next election...

While Lord Heseltine is known for being pro-European, many Conservatives are not, and are pressuring the government to commit to a referendum on the question of whether the UK remains in the EU - a so-called "in-out vote".

Lord Heseltine said: "To commit to a referendum about a negotiation that hasn't begun, on a timescale you cannot predict, on an outcome that's unknown, where Britain's appeal as an inward investment market would be the centre of the debate, seems to me like an unnecessary gamble"…

Labour leader Ed Miliband said the prime minister should take Mr Heseltine's comments "very seriously"… "If you're an investor thinking about putting your money into Britain, you're not going to be doing that if you think Britain's about to leave the European Union."…

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