The prospect of Britain leaving the European Union should its voters opt to leave after a Conservative-promised referendum in 2017 is bad news for Ireland. As our closest trading partner, the last thing our fragile economy needs now is the prospect of any weakening of relations with London. When Britain entered the EEC as then as it was known in 1973, Ireland had no option but to follow suit. What Ireland’s next step shall be should Britain leave the EU is now a subject of much discussion.
David Cameron, cognisant of how John Major’s softer position on Europe undermined his position as Conservative leader, has flexed his muscle, no doubt motivated by the ambition to win an overall majority come the next British general election. But the uncertainty over the United Kingdom’s future also remains uncertain given Scotland’s independence referendum next year. And all of this uncertainty is bad news for Ireland.