By NZE NWABUEZE AKABOGU
In a matter of a few days from now and precisely on Thursday 23rd June 2016, the people of Great Britain will be called upon to make one of the most delicate and unpredictable decisions in modern British history in a referendum to decide whether to remain or opt out of the twenty eight or so member nations of the European Union otherwise known as E.U. The crucial vote will obviously decide the fate of about seventy million or so Britons as the British voters are expected to make a lifetime decision on “in or out” of the European Union or E.U. that is bound to reshape the destiny of Britain not only in Europe but the world at large. An atmosphere of uncertainty is already pervading the entire Great Britain. To be or not to be.
The European Union which is a successor to the defunct European Economic Community or EEC has a chequered history of transformation and was designed primarily to achieve full integration and political union on the model of the United States of America (USA) in the foreseeable future.
In the spirit and letters of the single European Act of 1987 which sought to create a single market within the European Community or EC and a single currency – the Euro, member nations were also required to cede part of their national sovereignty to the European Union capital in Brussels which is the Power House of the Union. The European Parliament at Luxembourg also legislates on economic and political matters for member nations.
Currently, the E.U is undergoing unprecedented economic and migrant crises occasioned by the influx of millions of refugees mainly from the war-thorn countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan seeking refuge in European nations. The fleeing migrants often converge in Turkey and Greece from where they are eventually transported to European counties such as Germany, Poland, France and other East European Countries. The current humanitarian catastrophe has indeed overwhelmed most European nations and has brought monumental economic strain on front line members of the EU particularly Germany which alone had taken well over one million migrants mainly Syrians into her country purely on humanitarian grounds.
On the economic front, however, the E.U has some perennial challenges as some member nations such as Greece, Spain and other nations currently facing severe economic recession had to seek for financial bailout from the parent body, the E.U, in order to survive. Greece in particular was recently under terrible economic recession and already on the verge of insolvency before Brussels rushed to bail her out from total collapse.
Britain, with her solid political-cum-economic base appears not to be totally enthusiastic about the full political and economic integration of Europe as one political entity and had long remained skeptical about the future of the E.U. hence her refusal to join the European Monetary Union, otherwise known as a single currency-the Euro but rather retained her strong pound sterling as her common currency.
Britain very much cherishes her age-long heritage as a monarchy and will use all available means at her disposal to defend her unique monarchy system of government where the King or Queen remains the titular or ceremonial Head of State and as such will not be prepared to cede her-sovereignty or any part thereof, to any distant and unwieldy Union such as the E.U.
The British Monarch is also the titular Head of the largely ceremonial organization known as the Common Wealth of nations made up of mainly former British colonies scattered all over the globe. Britain, therefore, will always jealously guard the Monarchy as the best system of government for the British people. It is pertinent to observe in this piece, however, that the British widely known for their legendary art of diplomacy seem not to have much leeway for their skilful diplomatic manoeuvres within the E.U hence their current clamour to opt out of the union or Brexit.
The issues at stake in the current robust debates among the pro and anti E.U campaigners in Britain tagged “in or out” are so fundamental and intricate that the Campaigns had become too fierce and often acrimonious with visible air of uncertainty already surrounding the entire debates on the future of Great British.
At the head of the pro or “in” E.U campaign is the charismatic and eloquent British Prime Minister David Cameron who has ably marshalled out his arguments and logic in favour of Britain’s continued membership of the E.U. And in his characteristic vigorous campaign strategies which dramatically turned the table in favour of the “No” vote during the recent Scottish referendum for independence which eventually saw Scotland still retaining her membership of UK, Cameron had already deployed his masterly rhetorics to sway many undecided British voters to the Pro E.U Campaign. From the outset of the campaigns however, the anti or “out” of E.U. agitators otherwise known as the Brexit campaigners had seemingly gained an upper hand in the debate until David Cameron in his usual political brinkmanship unleashed his weapons from his political arsenal to confront the anti or “out” of E.U opponents. According to the recent national polls, both the Pro and anti E.U. are presently running neck and neck with only few days to the referendum. However, there are still a large number of undecided voters who might change the British political landscape should they decide to swing their votes in favour of either side of the political divide.
Nevertheless, the leaders of the anti E.U or Brexit campaigns some of who are senior members of David Cameron’s cabinet had insisted that Britain would be better-off while outside the E.U. since according to them the British economy which had been tied to the E.U in Brussels would automatically bounce back and also the British sovereignty ceded to E.U. in Brussels would equally be retrieved. They further argued that some of the harsh economic policies which had adversely affected the British economy would be immediately reversed in favour of the British people should Britain decide to pull out of the E.U.
The Brexit or anti E.U campaigners had strongly criticized the so called economic experts who had earlier painted a very gloomy picture for Britain in the event of her possible exit from the E.U. and also lambasted them as jaundiced economic experts and false alarmists who were raising such deceitful alarm in a calculated attempt to frighten the undecided British voters who might possibly vote for Britain’s exit from the E.U. in the referendum.
On the opposite side of the argument, however, are some world leaders, including President, Barack Obama of the U.S, and the Heads of the world’s financial institutions such as the World Bank and IMF as well as the President of the European council of ministers who had warned against the dire consequences that both Britain and E.U might suffer should Britain vote to exit from the E.U. Only a few days ago, the chairman of the U.S Federal Reserve or Central Bank had added her strong voice in the debate and warned on the grave consequences that Britain and indeed the E.U as well as the global financial system might suffer should the British people vote to leave the European Union (E.U.) in the forthcoming referendum.
•Akabogu writes from Enugwu-Ukwu, Anambra State.