Jonathan Fryer

Posts Tagged ‘Britain in Europe’

Tom Spencer’s In-Out Referendum

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 17th December, 2012

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is one of those rare birds: a green, federalist, pro-European Conservative. This meant that things were not always comfortable for him when he was leader of the Tory MEPs in the European Parliament, but in a sense it was as well that he stood down from his seat; he would have been hung, drawn and quartered (metaphorically speaking, of course) by the Party now. Tory MPs at Westminster — including government Ministers, who ought to know better — have been trumpeting the case for Britain’s leaving the EU. At least it was good to see The Economist, as well as the more predictable Observer, recently demonstrating why neither the Norway nor the Switzerland option is feasible for the UK. As guest speaker at the annual Christmas Dinner of the European Movement in London in an Italian restaurant in Bloomsbury this evening, Tom pointed out that Norwegians pay more per capita into the EU budget than Brits do, but have absolutely no say in the formulation of rules and regulations relating to the European single market, by which they must abide. He also declared with the sort of emphatic certainty that is his trademark that there EMiL logowill be an In-Out referendum on Britain’s EU membership in 2016 or 2017. And despite the efforts of political personalities such as London’s Mayor Boris Johnson — who Tom described as “highly intelligent, but not very nice” — he believes UK voters will vote to stay in once the case for the benefits of membership — and the perils of pulling out — is firmly put. That is certainly what happened in the 1975 referendum on confirming Britain’s then very young membership of the European Economic Community. At the start of the campaign, opinion polls suggested the voters were 2:1 against staying in, but the actual vote was 2:1 in favour. That was thanks to the efforts of political activists including a then much younger Tom, and heavyweight politicians from all three main national parties. Will the line-up next time be as impressive and as broad church? And will the European Movement — now definitely weaker — be a motor for the referendum campaign, or does a new body, like the one-time “Britain in Europe” need to be created? It’s not too early to be thinking of answers to those questions.

Link: www.euromove.org.uk

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It’s a Stick-up!

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 3rd May, 2009

I have spent an inordinate amount of time this Bank Holiday weekend at various London Liberal Democrat offices, church halls and community centres, from Hornsey and Wood Green to Richmond and beyond, via Camden, Islington and goodness knows how many other London boroughs, moving around on trains and tubes and buses, as the massive operation got underway to ensure that every household will get LibDem literature for the European elections on 4 June — or several pieces, in some cases. Lacking major trade union support or noteworthy big business donations, the party relies heavily on small donations and voluntary help from members and supporters, but it is great to see everyone pulling together (while Labour, bizarrely, is pulling itself apart). All the target (UK parliamentary) constituencies are getting very smart, multi-coloured leaflets, to which addressed labels merely have to be stuck. But sticking labels on hundreds of thousands of leaflets, and bundling them properly, takes a daunting number of people-hours!

This evening, I’ll be addressing Streatham LibDems at a pasta and politics, on Europe, of course. London has so much to gain by being placed at the a heart of Europe, as Britain as a whole should be. Tony Blair said he’d do it, but he flunked it. Gordon Brown never had the real will to do it, and now he has his drawbridge up, in his own personal battlements, seemingly out of touch with what the electorate wants, let alone what Britain in Europe needs.

Link: http://www.JonathanFryer4Europe.com

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