The EU membership referendum

The following article was originally published in the Rhyl, Prestatyn and Abergele Journal newspaper on 13 January 2016.
2016 has got off to a soggy and windy start, but nevertheless I would like to take the opportunity of wishing a very happy New Year to all Journal readers.
There will be a number of important political events this year, but the most important is likely to be the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.  The Prime Minister has promised that the referendum will take place before the end of 2017, but, given the progress that is being made in negotiations with other European countries, it will probably  be held before the end of this year.
Our membership of the EU is an issue that has been the cause of considerable controversy over the years. It is a divisive issue, and one that transcends party politics. I happen to believe very strongly that Britain would be better off outside the EU, and intend to campaign for our withdrawal. However, I recognise that there are entirely respectable arguments for us to remain within it. What is important is that there should be a sensible, measured debate, so that the British people can take part in the referendum feeling that they have been fully informed as to the pros and cons.
Given that most political parties contain a variety of views as to British membership, the campaigns on either side of the argument will undoubtedly be cross-party affairs, with people of usually opposing views putting aside their differences to campaign for what they believe is the  best future for Britain.
In the circumstances, therefore, the Prime Minister was entirely right to announce last week that, once the negotiations with the other European nations are complete, ministers will be free to campaign for either side of the argument. In doing so, he recognised the unique importance of the referendum and the fact that it is an issue above party politics.
No doubt, there is also a divergence of views on the EU within the readership of the Journal. Whatever our individual opinions, let us agree that the debate should be passionate but civilised, so that once the outcome of the referendum is known, we can unite and work together in the best interests of our country.

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