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Whatever the arguments for and against holding a referendum (of any sort) on Europe, there is one point made by europhiles that cannot be left unopposed. It has been said repeatedly that now is not the time to have a referendum because Europe is in crisis - it would just be unfair of us taking advantage of it, like kicking someone when they are down, and would earn lots of opprobrium from our EU partners. It is true it wouldn't be cricket, but we seem to be the only ones who believe in the rules of cricket. Too often when an EU country is suffering a moment of weakness, others see it as a perfect time to get something out of them because they aren't in a position to oppose it. The best recent example is when the UK was plunged into the financial services crisis – France, Germany and others saw this as a the perfect opportunity to take over financial services legislation because we were too weakened to oppose it, and no one wanted to stand up for the discredited "anglo-saxon" model. Those who think this is the wrong time should tell us when the right time is – if we don't push for things when the others are weakened, we will get nothing; if we push when they are strengthened, we will also get nothing. This isn't cricket; it is the EU and realpolitik. Nice guys don't get the rules in their favour.

40 comments for: Anthony Browne: When would the Europhiles like a referendum?

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