Britain’s Teeter-tottering Europhobia
Britain’s (at best) lukewarm embrace of the European Union is no breaking news for anyone at all familiar with the United Kingdom. The British want to take advantage of the benefits of EU membership—in particular the large market—but to do so without having to relinquish any sovereignty or to allow other EU countries to benefit from Britain in the same way Britain benefits from them. With the coming of 2014 and the expiration of work restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian migrants, the U.K. has become even more vocal about its national sovereignty, with the Conservatives promising an “in-out” referendum before 2017 if their party was to win the next general elections. However, those voices that are against such a drastic measure state that EU membership is just as crucial for Britain as Britain’s economy is for the EU. While pro-European cabinet minister Ken Clarke has rejected the claims of Europhobics and advocated for EU immigration to the U.K., even the more conservative foreign secretary William Hague has stated that the Tory MPs’ call for national parliaments to get a veto over all EU laws is completely impractical and undesirable. According to Chancellor George Osborne, the solution to this contention between Britain and the EU is a more concerted effort among the member states to reform the European political and economic system. If not, the British might soon face the choice of either adopting the euro (which they would not do) or withdrawing from the EU. Weighing all possible options, it seems as though collaborative reform might now be the EU’s only chance of keeping its head above the water.