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Should Britain stick with the EU?

By Mal Fletcher - posted Monday, 8 February 2016

'It is the heart always that sees before the head can see,' wrote Thomas Carlyle.

I don't know how Thomas Carlyle, a gifted social commentator, would have voted in the forthcoming British referendum on EU membership. Perhaps, being a Scot, he might immediately have made up his mind to stay.

If so, he would have been in the minority among UK voters, according to a new poll. It suggests that 45 per cent of people will vote to leave the EU, compared with 36 per cent who favour remaining.


If the 'don't knows' in the survey are excluded, a full 56 per cent favour waving goodbye to the EU. This despite Prime Minister Cameron's assurances that he can wrest a better deal for Britain from the hands of the EU.

Perhaps closer to the referendum – a date has not yet been fixed – people will opt to stay with what they know, after all, rather than going it alone. But recent problems within the Eurozone and terribly mixed messages about migration will add new levels of uncertainty about whether the status quo is sustainable anyway.

For my part, on the question of whether Britain stays in the EU, the heart says a resounding and definite 'yes', but the mind's not so sure.

I lived in Denmark for ten years and have lived in the UK for twelve. I've travelled and worked extensively across the EU throughout that time. I, like so many others, have seen firsthand the benefits in terms of travel, trade and the easy exchange of ideas and technologies.

Throughout Europe's history, feelings of cross-border antipathy have so often boiled over into all-out confrontation.

The original architects of the EU foresaw a time when Europeans – and their political masters – might share so much in common that going to war would be recognised as, at the very least, counter-productive.


Each time I hand my red passport to a travel official in another EU country I realise that in my heart I am a Europhile. Emotionally, I want Europe to work.

Yet my head says, 'hold on a minute; there's an elephant in the room.'

That elephant, though huge and ponderous, can be summed up rather elegantly in just three words: 'ever closer union'. They're short words, but even a small elephant can cast a long shadow.

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About the Author

Mal Fletcher is a media social futurist and commentator, keynote speaker, author, business leadership consultant and broadcaster currently based in London. He holds joint Australian and British citizenship.

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