The Evening Standard publication today promised readers a debate in September on whether the City of London would prosper if Britain leaves the EU.
Those in favour of sticking with the devil you know include economists like Business Secretary Vince Cable and Vicky Pryce. Those against the EU include businessman Luke Johnson and Tory MP Jesse Norman.
But a good starting point to assess the pros and cons would be our late Lady Thatcher.
As premier from 1979 she had over a decade in which to consider an exit or at least a referendum. We got neither.
She knew that if we bash Europe today what is to stop the national electorate from bashing bizarre decisions taken in Westminster tomorrow?
While she fought against Brussels officialdom and tamed an expansionist Jacques Delors at the EU Commission Thatcher also negotiated our Maastricht terms, agreeing that British business would prosper from a single European market. The venture would involve opting out of red tape like the Social Chapter while boosting our free market ideology into the heart of Europe.
It took a future Labour government to begin the task of opting in to some of the other parts of the European promise.
Britain’s euroscepticism was already evident even back then in better economic times albeit anti-Europe sentiment has strengthened in the past five years of recession and eurozone debt crisis.
Incumbent premier David Cameron knows he is on to a vote winner…as he only promises a referendum after the 2015 election. And as I have argued in this blog before it is possible that by 2017 things will be different and it may not be ‘viable’ to go ahead with a plebiscite.
It is difficult to know whether advances in things like our diet or public health and safety in the past 40 years have much to do with our membership of the EU since 1973.
Certainly I remember poor food labelling and zealous amounts of sugar and salt in food as a child. Yoghurts tasted sour whatever you picked up and now they taste sickly sweet. How much is that down to the abundance of French and German dairy product makers post-Maastricht?
Probably not much since you can buy them in non-EU Norway. But being in or out of Europe is really a distraction. Globalisation has done more to determine what our retailers stock and who now owns brands like Cadburys, a Kraft group confectioner.
The point of this is that at least with the EU we can claim accountability through our MEPs.
If we have only globalisation where is the accountability? And the tax revenues?