Somewhat to my surprise, Mr. Cameron secured a deal at the EU summit on Friday, gaining the total support of all the member states. Now he has to sell it to the country. There will be a referendum at the end of June, not on the question of whether the deal is acceptable or should be renegotiated, but whether Britain should continue its membership of the EU.
I suppose I will have to examine the arguments as they become clearer in the coming months but for now, let me state my position. I am not interested in whether I am a bit better off or a bit worse off in the EU. I am not interested in whether the "sovereignty" of the UK government is enhanced or diminished by membership. What am I chiefly concerned with is the long term future of this country. I believe that our prosperity and security require a prosperous and secure Europe, especially the countries on the fringes that are currently under the greatest pressure from the economic slowdown and the refugee crisis. In addition there is a real threat of the revival of the Russian empire which may destabilise the Baltic bloc and other bordering countries, and we can expect no particular favours from the other world economic superpowers.
Britain is a vital part of the EU and the EU is a vital contributory factor to our future. It's a no-brainer. I want our government to be at the heart of the European project, standing up for sensible and tolerant policies, opposing extremism and excessive bureaucracy. I don't think a European super-state is feasible right now (but it might be if constructed on genuinely democratic lines with the full consent of everyone) and I am suspicious of "ever-closer union" and glad the UK is exempt from it. Whatever happens in the EU the British voice can be and should be heard loud and clear.
To exit the EU now would force Britain, which does most of its trade with the rest of the EU) to conform to the economic policies made in Brussels but without a say in them. It would gladden those hostile to liberal democracies, be they in the Kremlin, the Middle East or further afield. And it would lead directly to the smashing up of the UK as the Scots would seize their chance for another referendum on independence.
There has never been a world project like the EU, in which many independent nations opt for a single trading bloc (and most for a shared currency), with a tier of political institutions that override their own. It has delivered peace and stability across much of Europe for over 50 years. It is in our interests that it succeeds and the best way we can make sure that it does is to be part of it.