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Britain depends on rival camps’ skills to scare each other

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Prague, Feb 22 (CTK) – The result of Britain’s referendum on its remaining in the EU will depend on whether the Brexit supporters among the voters will succeed in intimidating their opponents or vice versa, political scientist Alexander Tomsky wrote in Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) on Monday.

After reaching the relevant EU-British agreement at the EU summit last Friday, Prime Minister David Cameron immediately addressed a brilliant speech to his nation, in which he praised the agreed-upon British privileged partnership status and said it will enable him to support the country’s membership of the reformed EU in the June referendum, Tomsky writes.

Britain will never be a part of the more and more integrated EU but still it will be co-steering the EU market, which is the world’s largest, Tomsky writes, citing from Cameron’s speech.

Cameron presented the changes he achieved in Brussels. He said EU membership is in Britain’s national interest and it is the reformed, non-bureaucratic EU where Britain’s future lies, Tomsky writes.

Cameron’s speech caused uproar among his Conservatives. He demanded little and received even less. Like in the case of former PM Tony Blair, the more brilliant his speech, the more it irritates his matter-of-fact opponents, Tomsky writes, adding that Cameron’s opponents in the party ridiculed his achievements in Brussels as irrelevant and negligible.

He says Cameron demanded little in order to look successful, but still the EU summit watered his far-from-tough demands.

The “tough” restrictions of welfare benefits for immigrants from poor EU countries are to be gradually introduced in the four years to come, and the benefits Britain pays to them for their children back home will only be lowered to the level usual in the respective home countries. From the very beginning, it was clear that these measures will apply to a low number of people and will not reduce immigration anyway, Tomsky writes.

As far as Cameron’s achievements related to British relations to the EU integration, Schengen and the euro are concerned, everyone knows that Britain has always been a half-member of the EU, which is also why it has always been outvoted by fellow members in the past 20 years, Tomsky writes.

Following Cameron’s speech, a battle for referendum votes flared up in Britain. Cameron has failed to win support of only six out of 25 members of his cabinet, and of about 100 Conservative lawmakers, who spoke in favour in Brexit. This is a success at the start of his campaign, Tomsky writes.

However, the dispute over Britain’s EU status is a substitute one. Cameron was unable to bring any palpable achievement, for example British national parliament’s regained control of a social or judiciary chapter, home from Brussels, Tomsky writes.

The referendum result will not depend on what the British think about the EU. A clear majority of them are critical of it, Tomsky says.

In connection with the historical experience with Europe following the French Revolution, more than a half of [the more educated] British people believe that the EU is unreformable in the sense of English anti-ideological pragmatism that recognises only inevitably necessary, non-protective rules of the common and the freest possible market, and only the minimal geopolitical European interests, which can do without Brussels and Strasbourg, Tomsky writes.

This is no kind of isolationism or an imperial tradition of superiority. The English watch with horror the disputes that have accompanied the building of the European empire, which are evident in the south of the euro zone, and also the rise of nationalists, Tomsky writes.

The English bear a long-lasting internal tradition of a different democracy, which provides space for political freedoms with regard to human shortcomings and errors, and which English politicians also apply to themselves, Tomsky writes.

The European Jacobin elite, too, identifies itself with the common will, freedom and democracy, but in fact it pushes an utopian programme from above and tries to avoid the common will, Tomsky writes.

That is why the outcome of the English referendum will depend on which camp will scare their opponents more effectively, he says.

The Scottish and Welsh do not like Londoncentrism and prefer Brussels. The fears of Britain’s disintegration are not unjustified, Tomsky continues.

Big businesses warn of Brexit jeopardising work opportunities and standard of living. The Centrica energy distributor threatens that the prices of gas would rise. Many warn against the business conditions Britain may face in negotiations with EU ideologists, mainly the French, who definitely would not wish Britain success outside the EU, Tomsky writes.

It will also depend on what personalities’ support the pro- and anti-Brexist camps will win, respectively, and what will happen within the migrant crisis in the spring, Tomsky writes.

In addition, there is the British pragmatic approach: let’s not tackle problems before they become urgent. The EU is disintegrating already now, Tomsky writes.

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