Cameron’s referendum: triumph or one big blunder?

By now, whether it be of great importance to you or not, the referendum has been dominating the headlines. The impending June 23rd vote will determine the fate of the UK’s residency within the European Union.

According to recent opinion polls – excluding the undecided, average figures show 51% of the public favouring the UK’s stay in the EU with 49% wanting to opt out. One of the biggest challenges facing the pro-EU camp will be its attempt at enthusing the under 30’s, who are mostly pro-membership but traditionally least likely to vote at all, while the opposing camp will have to maximise turnout among Brexit-inclined working-class voters.

With Cameron sparking huge debate over his leadership skill in negotiating the terms of the agreement with foreign officials, we break down the successes and failures of his campaign – and ask whether the country should call time on its position within the European Union.

Top successes:

  • The UK can decide to limit in-work benefits for EU migrants during their first four years in the country. Deemed as an ‘emergency brake’ may be applied to exceptional levels of migration to the UK but must be applied within seven years without exception.
  • Cameron’s implicit stance in Britain’s exemption from the EU’s founding ambition at an ‘ever closer union’ has guaranteed its sovereignty in the EU. The UK will not be drawn into further political integration which is to be drawn up into the treaties.
  • Cameron’s biggest success lies devotedly to his victory over EU bailouts. The PM won guarantees that countries outside the Eurozone will not be required  into funding Euro bailouts and will additionally be reimbursed for central EU funds used to prop up the euro.
  • Protection for the City of London: safeguards for Britain’s large financial services industry to prevent eurozone regulations being imposed on it.

Top failures:

  • The prime minister’s inability to unite his party – namely the backlash he has faced against London Mayor Boris Johnson and former Tory leader and mentor to the PM Michael Howard only highlights Cameron’s weakness in negotiation against EU leaders.  
  • Cameron’s defeat by EU leaders on his initial call for a complete ban on child benefits from migrant workers has raised concerns from spectators. The original conservative manifesto had stated ‘we will insist that EU migrants who want to claim tax credits and child benefit must live here and contribute to our country for a minimum for four years.’ It had also pledged to ‘end the ability of EU jobseekers to claim any job-seeking benefits at all’, adding that ‘if job seekers have not found a job within six months, they will be required to leave.’ The numbers in UK immigration have certainly impacted on the failures of securing unanimous support for Cameron’s EU campaign. Statistics reveal that net migration to the UK is running at 323,000 a year – three times above the Government’s self-imposed limit of 100,000. Cameron had originally sought a 13-year curb on in-work benefits for new arrivals, which was vehemently rejected by EU leaders, leaving Cameron to settle with seven years instead.  Not only has the PM failed in securing a ban on overseas payments from migrants, but the UK is bound to paying claimants the full payment.
  • The greatest failing of all seems how little the PM’s promises have fallen short of his expectations in proceedings, particularly when it comes to returning powers from Brussels. Cameron has naturally faced strong resistance from countries like Poland and France, which has put questionable doubt in the Prime Minister’s ability in arbitration.

We now want to hear your thoughts. Has Cameron faced unfair criticism, or does the Prime Minister have a lot more to prove before the vote? Leave us your comments.

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