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Would UK Leave EU

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Political Science

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Essay

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EU-UK Spat May Lead to Separation
Britain’s anti-EU party gets its first elected member of Parliament, and that is symtomatic of unpopularity of EU
in Britain. The British political party dedicated to getting the country out of the European Union, the UK
Independence Party (UKIP), had its first member elected to Parliament, October 9. And it’s on target to see its
second elected in just a few weeks. “An Earthquake Called UKIP Hits Britain” read the title of Wall Street
Journal’s coverage of the subject. It’s right—this is the biggest political earthquake to hit Britain for a generation
or more.
For years UKIP has done well in local and European elections, only to remain invisible on the national scene. In
a first-past-the-post system, such as Britain and America’s, it is very hard for a new party to break out nationally,
but now UKIP has done it, and with style. Its victory—winning roughly 60 percent of the vote—set a new record
for the largest increase in votes for any party ever in a United Kingdom by-election.
UKIP’s victory—winning roughly 60 percent of the vote—set a new record for the largest increase in votes for
any party ever in a United Kingdom by-election.This exceptional victory came in exceptional circumstances. On
August 28, M.P. Douglas Carswell announced he was quitting the Conservative Party and would join UKIP.
Because he was elected as a Conservative candidate, he felt he should get approval for this change from his
voters. So he resigned his parliamentary seat, triggering what is called a “by-election” in the United Kingdom,
and stood again as the UKIP candidate.
In normal circumstances, he would be expected to lose. People usually vote for a party, not a candidate. Instead
Carswell won by a landslide.
The same day came close to bringing even bigger news. In a second by-election, UKIP came within just a few
hundred votes of winning a seat where the Labor Party had formerly held a 6,000-strong majority. Almost
everyone expected Carswell’s victory. Far fewer anticipated UKIP coming within 2 percentage points of victory
in Heywood and Middleton. Here, UKIP had no nationally renown politician with a substantial local following
leading it. Moreover, it was fighting to take the Labor Party’s seat, when traditionally it’s better at taking votes
from Conservatives.
And UKIP is on target to do it again on November 20. A few weeks after Carswell switched sides, fellow
Conservative M.P. Mark Reckless announced he would also join UKIP, again holding a by-election to get his
voters’ approval. While Reckless does not have the same level of personal support as Carswell, he is still on
target to win comfortably. If he does, Carswell warns it could trigger another round of Conservative defections to
UKIP.
Meanwhile, the EU seems to be going out of its way to help UKIP. Britain was slapped with a £1.7 billion
(US$2.75 billion) bill by the European Commission on October 24. European officials recalculated national
payments to the EU based on a nation’s economic progress since 1995. Due to Britain’s unexpected economic
growth, it has been ordered to pay this bill in addition to its regular national payment, bringing this years total to
£10.3 billion ($16.5 billion). To rub salt in the wound, Eurocrats demand that the bill be paid by December 1.
“The timing could scarcely be worse” for UK Prime Minister David Cameron, wrote the EU Observer, as
Cameron tries to persuade right-of-center voters to support Britain’s continued membership of the EU. The latest
demand is just more wind in the sails of UKIP. Even ahead of that latest demand, United States think tank
Stratfor pointed to the shift in Britain: "[UKIP leader Nigel] Farage’s rapid rise in British politics has moved the
entire British political spectrum toward more euroskeptical positions, and no major party is impervious to
UKIP’s influence. Britain’s political fragmentation could lead to a hung parliament after the general elections
and make UKIP a key player in post-election negotiations. In any case, Britain’s traditional party system
dominated by the Tories [Conservatives] and Labor will undergo a tough test in 2015."
Already we see UKIP forcing Britain to take a tougher line on Europe. “If people think I am paying that bill on 1
December, they have another think coming,” Cameron said. “It is not going to happen.” BBC reported that
Cameron “sounded like a prime minister unleashed; by turns scornful and furious, lectern thumping, downright

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angry.” Paying the bill without, at the very least, a symbolic concession is politically impossible.
This will probably be the biggest impact of UKIP. While it has come a long way, it’s unlikely to win more than a
handful of seats at the next general election. But it is forcing the major parties to take an increasingly stronger
stance against the EU.
Todays UKIP isn’t solely focused on Europe. It’s trying to appeal to anyone who feels let down or abandoned by
the current political system. It’s clear that today’s current politicians don’t have the answers and some voters are
turning to UKIP instead.
Regardless of the voting tactics of those involved, the political shift shows that more and more Britons are
strongly opposed to their country’s position in Europe. Nonetheless, the biggest influence it exerts on British
leadership is against Europe. Now, not only does David Cameron have to worry about voters deserting him if he
isn’t tough enough, but his own M.P.s could leave too—especially now that Carswell has proven they can still
get elected after doing so.
There is intense debate in Britain’s political circles about what this means for the next election. Will UKIP split
the right-wing vote, allowing the left-wing and pro-EU Labor Party to win? Or will UKIP voters return to the
Conservative fold when it really matters?
The future of Britain’s government rests on this question. But the future of its EU membership does not.
Regardless of the voting tactics of those involved, the political shift shows that more and more Britons are
strongly opposed to their country’s position in Europe. Either side may win, but this pressure to get out of the EU
won’t change. Even the Labor Party has committed to holding a referendum before any new powers are given to
Brussels.
One way or another—either pulled out by angry voters or pushed out by an impatient EU—Britain will not
remain in the EU. Today, Germany leads and dominates the eurozone today. Another economic hiccup could
soon push it into forming the United States of Europe. It is clear that Britain will not be part of that.
Britain Has to Leave EU?
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