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penrose orange
Last evening's dusting of snow didn't amount to anything; the ground must've been too wet and too warm. The footpaths around here are now almost completely clear, and there's definitely a warmer feeling in the air. Hooray for the thaw!

Today's big news was the Prime Minister's promise of a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union if the Conservatives win the next election. We all knew it was coming. He's now set the political agenda for the next few years.

Were a referendum held tomorrow, I'd vote to stay in the EU.

I'm naturally Eurosceptic; my default setting is to want to devolve and decentralize power, not centralize it in a sprawling supranational bureaucracy. The EU is less democratic than it could be; it often feels like the elected EU parliament is just a rubber stamp for whatever hairbrained schemes the commissioners and technocrats want to push for this week.

But, y'know, I try to think of some way in which being in the EU has harmed me, and I can't think of anything. If I try to think of ways in which being in the EU has benefited me, the single market and Working Time Directive immediately spring to mind. As an ordinary member of the workforce, I do appreciate the guarantees provided by the Working Time Directive, especially compared with the conditions that workers in the USA have to put up with.

My natural Euroscepticism seems to be more of an emotional reaction than a considered position. And as someone who would prefer politicians to use evidence rather than populism when formulating policy, I need to put my natural biases aside and consider the evidence of the benefits that EU membership has brought to Britain.

The referendum is years away, if it happens at all. There will be much debate about the merits of the EU between now and then. As things stand, I do think that a consideration of the benefits of membership will mean that I will vote to stay in.

I'm still glad we didn't join the euro, though. That's really not gone as well as generally hoped.
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I used to be a fairly strong supporter of a complete federal European union, and the single currency. My position has changed in recent years, mainly because it's clear that the single currency was a step too far too soon. It relied on all the countries being 'equal' for it to work, and that was never the case unfortunately.

I am still very much in favour of the common market though. The implications of dropping out of that are too scary to consider.

I don't think Cameron will get the vision of Europe he wants though, the Germans and French are very keen on closer union, and Cameron wants what we have now only a little looser.

The main deciding factor here is probably going to be Obama. The US see the UK as their 'in' to Europe, a way to exert a little influence, and they'll certainly be very against us leaving.

Unless something crazy happens between now and then, the bulk of the next general election campaign is going to be fought primarily on this issue I think.

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