Fog over the Channel – UK cut off?
Over the last decade, the usual manageable level of British discontent with the EU has grown to such an extent that the country’s continued membership is now in question. With the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) snapping at his heels, Prime Minister David Cameron struggles to set the agenda, despite his promise to hold a referendum in 2017 on renegotiated terms of membership.
Ahead of the Rochester and Strood by-election and next year’s general election in which the EU will be a major issue, this Snapshot evaluates the prospects of a UK exit, how other Member States view this and how they might deal with it.
Battle of the Medway
As the UK gears up for the May 2015 general election, relations with its neighbours across the Channel are very much on the agenda. The cobbled streets of Rochester and Strood in south-east England are the scene of a political battle which may impact the country’s membership of the EU following the dramatic defection to UKIP of sitting Conservative MP Mark Reckless. If Reckless is re-elected on 20 November under his new affiliation, as polls suggest (handsomely – see Chart 1), UKIP leader Nigel Farage will watch gleefully as his party’s second MP enters the House of Commons. Another UKIP victory would be a spectacular illustration of the eurosceptic ground swell in UK politics since the 2010 election.