Colin Drury: EU cannot be serious on in-or-out question

David Cameron walks past a map of Europe on a screen after making a speech on holding a referendum on staying in the EU
David Cameron walks past a map of Europe on a screen after making a speech on holding a referendum on staying in the EU
Have your say

Let me be honest here from the outset: I don’t know much about that there Europe. Which is probably about the same amount as you. Or considerably more if your name is Nigel Farage. I don’t know much at all.

The trouble is any time I start reading a newspaper article about this Europe, I get bored about three paragraphs in and start wondering what Dear Deidre is up to on the problem page.

Europe to me is a, er, foreign country.

I know it’s somewhere near Dover. I know they speak funny there. I know you can get a tan.

But Europe? As in the Union? As in the 27-state block? As in the coming together of previously hostile nations into a single united alliance? Lost.

That’s when I tend to ask: ‘It won’t effect the Euro Championships, will it?’ and, once reassured summer football is safe, move on to more interesting things. Like watching paint dry.

Except it’s been hard not to notice the old Europe debate of late. Lots of political heavyweights – Nigel Lawson, Ken Clarke, Jamie Oliver – are arguing whether Britain should remain a member of the EU. The Conservative Party, as is its occasional want, is tearing itself apart over the issue. And now David Cameron has promised a referendum on the whole shebang. In or out?

Which means us lot get final say. Me, and you, and that bloke down the pub who can barely say his own name by two in the afternoon. If you ever wondered his views on Romanian farming policy, now’s the time to ask.

You want to know what I think, though? No? I’m telling you anyway.

We should stay in the EU. Why? Not a clue. I think it because I do. I think it because my instinct is that there’s something remarkable (and remarkably civilised) about 27 countries overcoming centuries of conflict to realise that, hey, guys, if we stop brawling like drunks at closing time, we’d basically all be better off. My feeling is that it takes a special sort of small-mindedness not to see economic, cultural and diplomatic benefits from being one of lots, as opposed to the dude on the outside looking through the windows and hoping America wants to play instead.

But, of course, I don’t know about Europe, really.

I’m intelligent(ish). I’m reasonably well read. I have vague views. Just like you, no doubt. But I’m not an expert in the details, the subtleties and the nuances of international diplomacy and macro-continental economics. It’s not my job – nor my desire – to be. It’s the Government’s. It’s for it to research, to analyse and to make the right judgement in all our interests.

Which begs the real question here. Not in or out. But why are we being given a say? See, a referendum is not a sign of democracy; it is a symbol of a leader shirking his responsibility, too scared to be resolute.

I think we should be in Europe. I don’t think I should be making the decision.