A couple of times over the past year, most recently here, I’ve posted on the forthcoming referendum on membership of the EU; or, more specifically, on my concern that reducing it to a simple question of economics rather than one of the type of future we want to see plays into the hands of those who want to see the UK leave the EU.
The problem with much of the argument that I’ve heard to date is that it is based on promoting a fear of change rather than on any positive virtues. That in turn is based on an assumption that the future within the EU is more readily knowable than the future outside it. In the short term, that’s true, but we’re making a long term decision here, and the long term economic future of the UK within the EU is not really any more knowable that the long term future outside the EU. For what it’s worth, over the long term, I’m not convinced that there would be much difference in the economic outcomes of a decision to remain and a decision to leave.
From a Welsh perspective, I’d continue to argue that the question we have to ask ourselves is whether we want to see Wales as a small appendage of a very English state trying to stand alone in the world, or whether we want to see our small nation playing a part alongside the other small nations of an essentially multinational and multilingual Europe. That’s not really an economic question at all; it is a political one. And it’s not an argument which presents the EU as some sort of ideal organisation either. It’s a union which is continually, albeit slowly, evolving and changing, but which holds the potential for a combination of local autonomy and shared sovereignty in a union of consenting partners looking to the future rather than the past.I’m pleased to see at least one of Wales’ politicians making a similar point - and pleasantly surprised that it’s a member of the Labour Party.