Undecided about Europe? Sure about a referendum?

Undecided about Europe?

Well, there’s no hurry. We were promised a referendum before the last general election and there is talk of a referendum after the next one. Clearly the government is not rushing us to make up our minds. There was a referendum held in Switzerland a few days ago when the electorate dismissed government legislation to curtail severely the inflow of immigrants. The Swiss people have decided and the inflow of immigrants will continue and in three months there will be an opportunity for the Swiss people to vote again on issues that concern them.

Here in the UK we hear of the advantages of staying in and of getting out of the EU. Only as part of a large trading group will we be heeded in the global economy; only independent of the Brussels bureaucracy will we be able to make anything of our own country. Perhaps the governing classes are waiting until they are confident that we will provide the correct answer, whatever that is, if the question is put to us.

The Swiss do not trouble themselves at all on this score. They are at the very heart of Europe with a population just about that of London. They trade and get on with their neighbours – all of them in the EU. Their country is a very safe one in which to live and its currency has been growing against Sterling for a hundred years. They are obliged to carry ID, and so cannot easily hide behind anonymity. In around half the country’s houses you could find an automatic self-loading rifle and two packs of ammunition. All this troubles no one.

The Swiss however know that they have to live with the consequences of their decisions: vote for new road works and your local taxes will go up. Get arrested on suspicion of drink-driving on a Friday and you will spend the weekend in jail to ensure that you remember to appear in court on the Monday morning.

In some ways we are fortunate that we rarely have the opportunity to vote in a referendum, unless we live north of the border. When I watched the scenes of shopping chaos last black Friday I began to wonder whether we should be trusted with a referendum. Perhaps we should leave matters to UKIP.

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