The United Kingdom is getting very excited about the possibility of a referendum to be held some time in the future on whether it should stay in the European Union or leave it.
Those you think that the UK should stay in the EU claim that to leave would cause tremendous economic damage and uncertainty. Those who think that the UK should leave claim that the UK would lose its sovereignty and therefore the ability to regulate its own affairs, should the EU continue to grasp more and more powers from member states.
When you analyse the arguments there are many complexities. However one thing is simple. A nation has a right to decide what it wants to do. If it does not have the right it is not really a democracy. When the Greeks sought their freedom from the Ottoman Empire in the early part of the nineteenth century they did so under the battle cry of “freedom or death”. That cry seems a little extreme for modern tastes; if you have nothing you have nothing to lose by death, but we today have something and those who seek to deny a referendum deny democracy.
A nation has a perfect right to decide that it no longer wishes to accept the terms and laws that bind the EU together. The course of action it decides should be as a result of a democratic process, not as a result of the great and the good refusing to allow the people to make their own decisions.
The people collectively have wisdom; that is the rationale for democracy. If the arguments are good for staying in the EU, the people collectively will recognise that in a referendum. The argument that we cannot hold a referendum because it will affect our prosperity is an argument that is not democratic.
The question is whether democracy is more important than economic prosperity. I think it is, just as millions who have lived before me thought that democracy was more important than immediate prosperity, and chose democracy because they loved freedom, that sister of democracy.