Saturday, October 17, 2015

The EU - In or Out?

This blog post was prompted by a great recent debate at the Victoria and Albert Museum  organised by Farrer & Co, as the Laurence Stracey memorial.

The motion was: "British Workers have the most to lose from a Brexit"

Speakers for, were the Right Hon Clare Short and Daniel Stiliz QC and against,  were John Baron MP and Jane Mulcahy QC. The judge/chair was Jeremy Posnansky QC.

Clare Short in favour of the motion, was the Secretary of State for International Development under Tony Blair's Government and John Baron is a Tory MP in the current parliament who is keen for the UK to leave the EU.

The V&A museum has a fine modern theatre in which the debate took place on  Wednesday night and is a beautiful place in which the 200 or so in attendance could  enjoy drinks and discussion afterwards. The very friendly and efficient V&A staff worked on until after 11pm.

Before the debate commenced the audience was asked by a show of hands to signify whether they were for or against remaining part of the EU and   voted about 17/3 to remain in   (I was in the minority). To keep the parties on their toes and to add some fun, the debate  rules provided that each side could play one joker while the other side was speaking, upon which the person  then talking had to argue for one minute in favour of the other side's point of view.

The debate was extremely interesting and the two sides played and answered their jokers brilliantly. Clare Short like many  said she dislikes the term "Brexit" but I was particularly pleased that she  referred to what many of  her generation  including  yours truly, still call "The Common Market". She said that the issues were serious and took us through some of the interesting history: The original formation of the Common Market with 6 member states; the early refusals to admit the UK; the cross overs by the UK political parties with Labour and the Trade Unions originally being against joining and the Conservatives being keen  compared with now when most Labour politicians and Trade Unions are keen to remain members  with UKIP and some Tories being keen to quit; she mentioned the very first UK referendum  (1975) in  which she (and for that matter I) took part, about whether to remain in  the Common Market and then on to the present day in Europe. A very elequent and persuasive speaker.

John Baron who had  crutches,  following a recent operation, turned out to be a brilliant and entertaining  orator even using the joker played against him to great advantage. The QCs on both sides also joined  the fray with both wit and knowledge.

A secret ballot was held and when the result was declared at about 10pm those who wished to remain in the EU were still successful but the actual scores   very close  - about 97 in favour and 93 against - when compared with the initial show of hands mentioned above,   illustrated the quality of the speakers.

Drinks and much discussion afterwards with   friends closed an excellent evening.

 Reflecting later  on  the recent German decision unilaterally to welcome  vast numbers of migrants to the EU without  first discussing this with  EU partners and then penalising those who do not accept that unilateral dictat, I am as  keen as ever   to leave the EU.


  1. Hello Jerry
    Further to your post, I thought this might interest you:

    Best Barnaby

    1. Greetings Barnaby
      The BBC programme was very interesting. Its participants were also very polite so made no comment that I could discern on what appears to me to be the decision taken by Germany to admit 100000s Syrian migrants without first consulting the other EU countries and then insisting that the other countries should accept quotas and in essence be fined if they refused. I am unhappy about remaining in such an organisation. Although of course that may change when the EU makes some decisions.

      Additionally an interesting comment was made by a Syrian archbishop over the w/e responding to the CoE bishops criticism of Mr Cameron for not admitting more migrants and more quickly, to the effect that the culture, language, religion, and family lives of the Syrians are so different from those of Europe that it was better to ensure that they were settled in the region where such differences are less rather than to place them in the foreign environment as sought be eg Germany.

      My interpretation of the Syrian Archbishop's comments is that the considers that the West should concentrate on physically acting to restore some semblance of order there as well as providing finance to relieve suffering which I believe the UK is already doing - rather more so than our European partners .

      However the House of Commons largely in line with the mood of the UK population of the time ruled against the PM's wishes to move against ISIS in Syria by force when Cameron sought to do so under the coalition govt.
      I wonder if the issue needs to be re-visited ? Meanwhile the German unilateral approach causes me to be even less content with EU membership.


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