Dr Lee Rotherham is an author, historian and political campaigner, who has served as a TA reservist on three overseas deployments. He is on the Approved EU Candidates List.
A recent poll offers some intriguing statistics on where the public may currently stand on the UK’s relationship with the EU. Open Europe, which commissioned the study, interpreted it as backing a policy of renegotiation over an immediate exit.
Looking at the polling data in the annex, it seems to me that the results are more nuanced. It does suggest the mood leans more towards backing the “significant return of powers to Westminster” over outright withdrawal. But notably, though, around two thirds of those questioned either wanted straight out, or a major shift in the terms of the deal (without exploring in treaty parlance if that amounts to the same); only one in four either appear happy as things stand or want more basting in the EU sauce.
But then, quite remarkably and rather less flagged up as a detail, the responses also show that six in ten of those questioned also believe it unlikely that the UK will get the changes it wants. So it appears to indicate a pessimistic majority might be prepared to give it a go and see what happens, but stoically expect that after being reasonable, gentlemanly and very British about it all we’ll have to quit anyhow. The destination along either route would then be identical; a new deal and a positive end result whose rationale is set out for instance in this paper by David Campbell-Bannerman.
Bounded by such a backdrop, here today is where the Government’s review of the balance of EU competences is so critical. Given the importance of the initiative it’s quite remarkable that more credit hasn’t been given for what amounts to a potentially revolutionary Whitehall study.