July 2nd 2016

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY CFA dispute may end up burning Victorian Labor electorally

CANBERRA OBSERVED July 2: Independence Day or Groundhog Day?

EDITORIAL Expect shockwaves as Britain votes on EU exit

CLIMATE CHANGE Coral bleaching way overdone by reef saviours

EUTHANASIA Victorian report closer to truth in dissenting voices

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Trump v Clinton race revealing of state of U.S.

SEXUAL POLITICS Transgenderism and the triumph of marketing

EDUCATION Deconstruction and other rot at school

POLITICS AND ECONOMICS Two heretics: Hilaire Belloc and R.H. Tawney

FREE SPEECH From disagreement to discrimination: section 18C

LITERATURE Tolkien, Golding and Hell

SOCIETY New lease on life for freedom machine

MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT Talent shows grind down singers, grind out drivel

CINEMA Puppet people pull the plug: Me Before You


BOOK REVIEW Friendship under fire

Books promotion page

Expect shockwaves as Britain votes on EU exit

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, July 2, 2016

The British referendum on membership of the European Union, taking place as News Weekly goes to press, will have major implications for the future of the EU and the global economy, at least comparable with that which confronted the EU after the Greek sovereign debt crisis of 2015, which nearly caused the collapse of the EU.


Regardless of the British vote, the EU will never be the same again because it has opened the door on leaving the union.

Along with France and Germany, Britain has been one of the pillars of the EU, although Britain never accepted full integration into the European economy, maintaining its own currency, the Sterling, rather than adopting the common currency, the euro.

This meant that Britain always had greater control over its own economy, through the Bank of England’s capacity to issue its own currency and set its own interest rates, than exists in Eurozone countries.

Nevertheless, as a member of the European Union, Britain had to accept the authority of the European Parliament, and the surrender of a significant amount of sovereignty to the EU.

This has caused resentment, particularly in light of EU legislation that overrides British law in areas such as immigration, right of residence, labour law, the environment, foreign affairs, human rights and trade.


The vote on EU membership follows years of increasing concern over the mounting hegemony exercised by the EU Parliament and EU bureaucrats in Brussels. British Prime Minister David Cameron promised a referendum on British membership of the EU, and entered into negotiations with it to improve the terms of Britain’s membership.

Mr Cameron wanted Britain to opt out from the EU’s founding ambition to forge an “ever closer union” of the peoples of Europe. He asked that the British Parliament have power to block EU legislation, although he achieved only limited commitments on this.

He sought to limit EU citizens’ right of entry into Britain, and limit access to British social security payments for EU members living in Britain. The EU agreed to amend its existing rules, but not to the extent that Mr Cameron sought, because of resistance from central European states, including Poland, whose citizens have entered Britain in large numbers to work.

He asked for undertakings from the EU that further financial obligations would not be imposed on non-euro members of the zone, and that they would not be required to participate in any debt bailouts, as has applied to Greece, Spain and Ireland, since the global financial crisis.

Mr Cameron secured a commitment that further integration would not be imposed on non-euro countries, and that they would not be required to bankroll EU bailouts, but he was unable to weaken the already tight grip which the EU has over financial institutions running in all member states.

Mr Cameron also sought a commitment that the EU would reduce its bureaucratic oversight, and was given an undertaking that the EU would take measures to enhance competitiveness, but with few details.

Since the agreement was reached in February, Mr Cameron had said he was satisfied with the EU commitments, and would campaign for Britain to remain in the EU. Critics of the EU argued, however, that the agreement changed nothing fundamentally.

In any case, things have moved on from then. Germany’s acceptance of a million migrants from the Middle East last year, and hundreds of thousands more in 2016, has led to a flood of people entering Europe from Turkey and Libya, in particular, and this tide shows no sign of ending.

The issue of free movement within the EU and the right of immigration have emerged as new issues that were not part of the negotiations that Mr Cameron had with the EU.

Since Mr Cameron announced the referendum date, the Conservative Party leadership, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and most business leaders have argued that it would be disastrous to leave the EU. They have been supported by foreign leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Malcolm Turnbull.

Opponents of the EU, led by the charismatic former mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and the leader of the UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage, but with strong support from a minority in both the Conservative and Labour parties, have vigorously supported a “Brexit”.

They have pointed out that with negotiations under way to admit Turkey into the EU, there is a prospect of millions more people migrating to Western Europe from Turkey, exacerbating existing tensions over Middle-Eastern migrants. A complication is that there are 2 million EU citizens living in Britain, and over 1.2 million British citizens living in Europe, whose status may change with the vote.

Another factor will be the impact of the assassination of Labour MP Jo Cox, a strong supporter of the EU, by a deranged politically motivated fanatic.

A high vote in favour of withdrawal will undoubtedly embolden anti-EU campaigners across Western Europe.

Peter Westmore is national president of the National Civic Council.

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