According to the polls the UK is a largely Eurosceptic country. It is full of people who either do not want to belong to the EU at all, or wish to be part of a free trade area or common market they thought they joined. There are very few who want to see the united Europe which France and Germany are building, and who wish the UK to be part of the emerging United States of Europe.
For fifty years much of the UK establishment has taken a different view. They have either believed that the EU is just a rather grand single market, and we need to be in it for trade reasons, or they have used the cloak of trade to confuse the outlines of the emerging centralised government. Some thought the UK was struggling in the 1970s and needed German discipline and competition to sort us out. Some believed that the Exchange Rate Mechanism would control inflation and help our economy. Many went on to argue that we had to join the Euro, claiming the City and our other major economic interests would suffer badly if we stayed out. The collapse of the ERM and the tribulations of Greece, Portugal andIreland within the Euro has not persuaded all of them that they were wrong.
Today the Fresh Start Group of MPs will launch their proposals for getting powers back from the EU. They wish to see the UK regain full control over criminal law and justice, have an emergency brake to stop financial regulations we do not like through a country veto, and get back some of the powers over social and employment policy.
It would be a welcome start, but does not go nearly far enough for many Eurosceptics both inside and outside the Conservative party. It was Conservative party policy in opposition to repatriate our fishing grounds. It has long been UK policy to undertake substantial change to the Comnmmon Agricultural policy to make it cheaper for food buyers. Many wish to see the UK regain control over its own energy policy and much else besides.
There are the Come outers in UKIP constantly saying that the only answer is immediate withdrawal. They assert that we need to withdraw without explaining how that is going to happen. There are the Better off outers within the Conservative Parliamentary party, who do work with others to try to limit further transfers of power and to start to shift things back. There are many suggestions on the combination of referenda, votes in Parliament and clauses of the Treaty that could get us out or get us into a new relationship, but less thought about how the Eurosceptic majority can unite its forces to have its way.