The EU: An Unpromising Referendum

Picture this: a GCSE science student making the decisions on how best to further the world of quantum physics. Clearly unqualified and likely to make poor decisions. Now, why would we let the same thing happen in politics?

I studied the European Union for a while; I hated it. The technicalities of it all left me in dismay as I struggled getting to grips with it. And this was in a learning environment, spending hours upon it. The thought of familiarising myself with the EU in a politically charged atmosphere is one that leaves me sobbing in a corner. But that’s exactly the kind of atmosphere we, the general public, will be learning about the EU in, should we have the promised referendum.

How much do we really know about the EU except for what we’ve heard shouted throughout the general election campaigns? We can read as many articles as we want but the fact remains that the EU is an immensely complicated institution; one that the general public might not fully grasp. It’s the same general public being asked to make a political decision on this complicated institution. Leaving the EU is an unprecedented move. It has never been done before. Leaving us very much in the dark as to how things might turn out. The possible repercussions of leaving the EU are not ones grounded in facts and study, but mostly speculation. There are no previous cases for us to draw upon - we’re left listening to theories of how it might turn out. Given the great politicisation of the issue, these theories are loaded with obvious bias. Such a situation does not seem to be the ideal context for a vote on the EU.

What do we know about the European Union and Britain’s involvement? After an election where the EU and migration issues featured more heavily than any other election in memory, we might be fooled into thinking we know enough to vote on the issue. In fact, we only know what we’ve heard from the likes of Farage and Clegg spitting facts and figures at each other. And in there lies the problem. Dumbing down the issue to cherry picked figures to win over votes. The end game of any political campaign is to sway the voter one way or another, not to educate the voter such that he or she will be in a position to make an informed decision. Both campaigns will unquestionably be full of scaremongering on both sides. This referendum will be unlike the Alternative Vote referendum, where voters could look to understand a system, weigh its pros and cons, look to case studies and make an educated decision. The EU cannot be understood so easily; we can neither look accurately at pros and cons nor do we have the option of looking to previous cases. So why have a referendum to settle the issue?

Do we not have a representative democracy for cases exactly like this? Is it not the point of a representative democracy that our representatives are deemed to know and understand issues better, so that they can go ahead and make decisions on behalf of the electorate? Leaving complex decisions to those who know better seems a more logical course of action than a petty and shallow referendum. An educated debate would be the way forward rather than trivialising the issue. A better way to resolve the issue of Britain and the EU would be a free vote in Parliament. No whips, just the MP’s decision on how to vote, whose stance would have most likely been laid out before being elected, and taking counsel from constituents and experts. Thus eliminating a petty campaign.

The bottom line is, we don’t know, nor will we learn enough to make a sound and informed decision on our membership of the European Union. The looming campaign will not educate us, but will instead try and scare us into voting one way or another. This referendum is not one that should be had. 

By: Masrur AhmedHistory student in east London. Twitter: @Masrur95

Student Voices does not fact-check / verify facts claimed in opinion articles.
The EU: An Unpromising Referendum The EU: An Unpromising Referendum Reviewed by Admin on 11:05 Rating: 5


  1. Can I get an autograph before you hit fame pls author?

  2. Great article. I agree with you in that I also feel that the electorate is too unprofessional and too uninformed to make a decision. The highly politicalised nature of this referendum and the scaremongering of immigrants that has caused this issue to be ping-ponged between party to party is quite frankly, disgusting.

  3. What would your vote be?


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