Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • It's still unclear, when precisely the referendum on Britain's membership

  • of the European Union will take place.

  • David Cameron has still to agree the precise terms

  • of a new deal for Britain with his European partners.

  • So, the referendum could take place in the summer,

  • maybe in the autumn, or maybe even a lot later,

  • because Janan Ganesh, our political commentator,

  • you have a slightly different take on whether we should be having a referendum at all at this time.

  • Well, people are obsessed about whether it's gonna be June, whether it's gonna be September,

  • whether it can conceivably be next summer.

  • I think the problem with timing, is that we're not doing this maybe a decade from now.

  • There is so much uncertainty about the future direction of the European Union, and how Britain relates to it.

  • That really, we have no sense of what we're voting to stay in, or get out of,

  • and the principal example, that I talked about this week in the column,

  • is eurozone integration. It is not impossible that within a decade the eurozone becomes the real EU in all but name.

  • It becomes the effective, decision-making caucus for things like economic and financial regulation.

  • But that's what David Cameron thought was going to happen

  • at the height of the crisis in 2012,

  • and one of the reasons he called for a referendum.

  • Absolutely, and the government tried very hard to protect Britain

  • in the event of that integration, so there were very complicated double majorities introducing bits of banking policies,

  • so that has to be a majority of non-euro countries as well as euro countries for certain policies.

  • Now that eurozone integration hasn't happened yet, but I think that's mainly because of

  • the sheer slog of getting any of these constitutional and institutional changes in the EU.

  • Give it several years, I think there's a chance, maybe in the form of a new treaty,

  • that something like that emerges to secure what has been an unstable currency of the past five years.

  • Well, we are where we are, but I think the other interesting historical perspective that you gave this week, Janan,

  • is that actually the referendum, the first referendum that we had in 1975,

  • still flush with EU membership in '73, should've taken place in the mid-1980s, when we had the big push to the single market.

  • Tell us a bit more about that.

  • Well, 1986 was a far more important year in Britain's relationship with Europe than 1975 was.

  • In '86, Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of the time, signed the Single European Act,

  • which began the single market as we know it, perhaps as we know it now.

  • It introduced more qualified majority voting, reduced vetos, eroded national sovereignty for the sake of this internal market.

  • That was a much bigger decision point for this country, and there wasn't a referendum.

  • In 1975, a much more limited European economic community we'd only been in for two years, and we did have a referendum.

  • So we've got the timing wrong I think, already.

  • And I worry that if we're a decade early last time, we're a decade early this time.

  • But we are where we are as I was saying,

  • so David Cameron, where, how do you says his chances of securing here, and yes, at this particular moment,

  • and where is the balance of opinion in Britain?

  • Some of it hinges on the quality of the deal, that he extracts in February the 18th, the 19th,

  • when there's a European Summit.

  • So, no more closer union, a bit of a crack down on benefits from migrants,

  • and some guarantees of protection against that eurozone integration that you talked about earlier.

  • Well, this is where he has a problem.

  • The area of renegotiation that matters most to this country's strategic interests

  • which is protecting non-euro countries within the EU,

  • so we don't just become a rubber-stamp.

  • Is not the area of renegotiation that matters to voters, which is migration,

  • and if you look at the preliminary deal he agreed with Donald Tusk, the Council President,

  • the government is clearly prioritised winning staff back on migration, and fair play, they've done quite a bit of that.

  • But they haven't concentrated quite the same diplomatic capital

  • on the technical work of protecting non-euro countries in the EU.

  • So I think his chances of winning the referendum are reasonable.

  • He's got something on migrants.

  • My worry is will voters stay in, and then find ourselves in a very invidious position within several years.

  • So, David Cameron's chances of securing an in-vote, remain-vote in the European Union

  • are somewhat better than Arsenal's chances of winning the Premier League, is that what you think?

  • Sadly, much much better.

  • Thank you very much, Janan Ganesh.

  • Thank you.

It's still unclear, when precisely the referendum on Britain's membership

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 UK FinancialTimes referendum eu european britain david cameron

How UK could end up powerless in EU | FT Comment

Video vocabulary