After EU Deal, British Voters Weigh Costs and Benefits of Brexit

Like other nations, the United Kingdom faces ongoing pressures from debt, demographics, and refugees fleeing the Middle East. Some politicians use the European Union as a convenient scapegoat for their own troubles. In 2013, British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to renegotiate terms of Britain’s membership in the EU. A referendum on whether the country should remain a member is set for June. Cameron presides over a Conservative Party divided on Europe, explains David R. Cameron, professor of politics at Yale, and “the pledge was motivated, above all, by his desire to secure a Tory majority in 2015.” The settlement addresses irritants in the areas of economic governance, competitiveness, social benefits and free movement, but does not change treaty terms or provide significant EU reform. Economic crisis has hit Europe hard in recent years, but the EU remains a powerful force in trade, accounting for 20 percent of global exports and imports while representing only 7 percent of the world’s population.