A poll taken by one of Britains leading papers this week showed a major change in public opinion. The poll showed that for the first time since the issue of leaving the EU was put on the table, opinions were for it. The opposing side to leaving the EU has always maintained a small but significant lead. There are a multitude of reasons why this change has occured but there is one which seems to be the underlining and significant factor. To understand why this issue has managed to change public opinion despite years of rejection to the notion of leaving the EU it is important to set out the facts.

The establishmet of the European Economic Community in 1973 was a major political and economical step by Europe. Europe was at a stage where trade within its member states was hurt badly due to importing and exporting taxes. The creation of this market area where the barriers were lifted so as to allow free movement of goods was hugely welcomed. Moreover, because goods could move freely, the market place created the opportunity for free movement of people within the member states. For years people successfully utilised this important tool to their benefit. Families were encouraged to move to different countries to try their luck at work or a different lifestyle outside of their comfort zone. For the benefits of moving goods within the member states for free and being able to move freely, people were inclined to stay in the EU. After all, the benefits were to be enjoyed by everyone so long as they were citizens of the member states.

The problems however started when the world economies crashed in 2008. It finally became clear that whilst the EU had shared the benefits in the glory days, it was time to share the burdens. Like a marriage, the EU had to stick together through sickness and in health. The Greek bail out prompted the start of the EUs troubles. If the Greeks could not be saved then other smaller economies including Italy and Spain would be next to crash resukting in being forced out of the EU. To the member states, there was no alternative but to save the Greek economy. However, the terms of doing so were not welcomed with happiness by the Greeks. Furthermore, due to the significant amount of money required for the bailout process, member states became hostile to the idea of funding the bailout. Other than the Human Rights argument (which goes something like this: The UK cannot utilise its laws properly because Strasbourg always has the final say at the European Court of Justice), this was a crucial point where the anti-EU campaign started to build a solid foundation.

What has led to the anti EU breakthrough, even though a small margin it may be, is the Syrian Refugees crisis. The problem started when vast amounts of immigrants were being smuggled to the coast of Italy from countries north of Africa and beyond. Some of these immigrants died when boats capzised which created a crisis in Europe. The EU was divided as to whose role it was to minimise this problem. The issue escaladed further when the immigrants managed to get into Calais (France) headed for the UK. The public mood begun to change rapidly.

Meanwhile the battle in Syria between Islamic State and the Syrian govt forces including those supplied by some of the member states in the EU was brewing,. The battle to prevent Islamic State forced Syrians to flee from their homes in search for a better life in Europe. This coincided with Europes ongoing immigration problems. There were deep divisions within the member states as to how many refugees each country should take. only after pressue from the French and German govts has the UK reviewed its stance on receiving a quota of refugees and asylum seekers from Syria. The reason the anti-EU campaign in the latest poll is ahead is simple; The UK, by being part of the EU, always has to comply to obligations beyond its control. There would be no official reprimand if the UK refused these obligations but it would be politically and economically damaging. Moreover, the moral reprimand across Europe would create a problem for the UK with regards to pushing forward policy in the EU. The anti-EU campaign has gained momentum by the realisation that the EU will always solve its problems by sharing them amongst the member states. In realising this, the general public are of the opinion that by opting out of the EU, the UK may still be able to get the benefits of free movement of people, goods and services without the political burdens. However, this opinion is entirely flawed and has no basis on two grounds. Firstly, refugees and asylum seekers have always been a responsibility the UK has had to accept because of its role in global politics. Asylum seekers and refugees have been coming to the UK for years from war-torn countries like Sudan, Somalia, Irag and Afghanistan. The main reason why the Syrian refugees and asylum seekers have changed public opinion is that the media has shown pictures and videos of a massive influx of people arriving on Europes door step. The pictures in the media have been implanted on the minds of local people and are influecing their decision to opt out as a solution. The words “refugee” and “asylum seeker” already have negative connotation from the Tony Blair years when they were used to label all immigrants. Secondly, Britain being the major power that it is in global politics, will always have a role to play in any crisis. Whether to participate in international issues heavily relies on Britains relationship with its allies especially those in the EU. Britain has a moral obligation beyond the demands of the EU thus leaving the EU for this reason is not logical.