Will Britain Leave the EU under a Conservative Majority Government?

08.05.2015 – Conservatives won a majority government with 331 elected seats in the House of Commons

We can say, ‘look at what you’ve voted into Britain’ as much as we like.  Yet the sad fact is that the Conservatives have been voted in, and there’s no changing that (at least not for another 5 years).  We just need to accept that Cameron is now running our government, and we have the joy of experiencing a laissez-faire centric, neoliberal elitist party control our futures and our country.  But the question on many people’s minds is, firstly, whether Cameron will hold a referendum on Britain’s relationship with the European Union (EU) and, secondly, if Britain will leave the EU.

The European Union is an economic and political union of 28 member states, established by the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 which sought to provide the creation of a single currency; strengthen Europe’s capacities; legally bind people of member states as citizens of the EU; and formalise the creation of the Single Market.  Britain, along with France and Germany, is one of the most influential countries within the European Union.  Since joining the European Community in 1973, Britain has developed from a chronically ill economy to one of world’s most diversified and successful economies. Yet Britain’s relationship with the EU has at times been strained, resulting in Britain being labelled as an ‘awkward partner’ within the European community.

The reluctance of political parties to embrace a form of integration in which the transfer of sovereignty, real or imagined, from the unitary state of Britain to the supra-national institution of the EU, has remained a fundamental element of political debate.  There continues to be an organised anti-integrationist section of a main political party, though this has transferred from the Labour party of 1975 to the Conservatives of 2010.  These anti-integrationist sections of parties have responded to pressures from influential groups – the Union movement in 1975 and UKIP in 2010, which, despite not holding elected offices, have had considerable effect.  Thus, there appears to be a correlative link between the weak majority, or minority position of the lead party in government and the influence that pressure groups have on the level of anti-integrationist discourse.

But it is somewhat unclear how the referendum on Britain’s relationship with the European Union would work. No country has voted to leave the EU before.  Cameron has promised to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s relationship with the EU, before a drastic vote, to get a better deal for Britain.  If negotiations, in areas such as immigration and trade, advance well then his Conservative government would be likely to endorse that people vote to remain a member of the EU.  If not, then a Conservative government might conceivably recommend that Britain exit the EU.

However it is also rather uncertain exactly what these “renegotiations” add up to, especially if there is no agreement on a treaty change, thus potentially endangering the outcome of referendum.

In order for future negotiations to take place between Britain and the EU, there will be the prerequisite of accommodation for Britain’s political elites to be made so that they are able to engage in conversation about Britain’s continuing participation in the integration and cooperation with the EU.  Moreover, such discussions need to be accommodating to the particularities of Britain, as well as representing the wishes of the population.

Thus, it cannot be concluded whether Britain will leave the European Union under a majority Conservative government.  However, it can be deduced the there is a high likelihood of an EU referendum due to Cameron’s pledge (let’s just hope he remains accountable), and the outcome will be dependent upon the electorate, based on either their personal opinions, as well as their acceptance or rejection of arguments posited by political parties, as well as the outcome of negotiations.

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