With less than two years remaining until the U.K.’s referendum on EU membership, British Prime Minister David Cameron has begun campaigning heavily for the EU to allow Britain even more special privileges.
The Conservative PM is looking for the EU to allow Britain to obtain more autonomy, especially in regards to further border control and labor rights.
The referendum was called for in the 2015 British general election by the winning Conservative party, and will ask Britons a simple question: Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
For all its simplicity, the question is quite a daunting one; the idea that Britain might exit the EU, the so-called Brexit, has many international observers worried.
Yet, domestic support for a Brexit is looking strong after a powerful Conservative showing in the 2015 election cycle.
Increasing nationalism and fear of immigrants taking British jobs has buoyed support for the proposition.
A Brexit will grant the U.K. far greater abilities to control its borders, which will allow it to limit immigration severely.
Moreover, leaving the EU will free Britain from obligations regarding economic policies both domestic and abroad.
The obligation to obey EU rulings, such as financing bailouts for downtrodden economies like Greece’s, has dragged down British support for membership in the EU as well.
The Brexit’s many domestic supporters cite these as reasons why such a move would be hugely economically beneficial to the country, and in many respects they are correct.
Opponents of the Brexit, however, have several concerns that the move might desicate Britain’s international power.
Currently, power in the EU is divided between Britain, Germany, France and the many small nations that comprise the rest of the union.
France’s voice is the weakest of the triumvirate, whereas Germany’s is the strongest, which means that should Britain leave the EU, much of its power might go to Germany.
This could easily upset the smaller EU countries who would feel that Germany has too much power, fostering resentment against the economic giant.
Such a move would also lead Britain’s allies to doubt her capabilities abroad and her determination to support them.
In particular, the US would grow even more doubtful about Britain’s value as an ally. This doubt was prompted by British refusal to support military action in Syria.
Whether the potential economic gains offset the possible diplomatic losses is a question the British people will decide in 2017, but Cameron is looking to ameliorate the situation so the choice will not be as radical.
The PM will be meeting with certain EU leaders in the hope that he can iron out a deal to free Britain from some of the restrictions which come along with EU membership.
Such a deal would likely be opposed by both Euro-skeptics at home and the smaller nations in the EU.
While the Euro-skeptics would prefer leaving the union over any deal, small European nations would feel that such an absolution would be massively unfair to them.
With fewer than two years to resolve the situation, Cameron is hurrying to get it done. He, at least, recognizes that membership in the EU confers diplomatic benefits worth fighting for.