Prime minister Tony Blair was wrong to call a referendum on the planned new European constitution, because the British public does not know enough about what goes on in Brussels.
That was the overwhelming verdict of finance directors in the latest Accountancy Age/Reed Accountancy Big Question survey.
More than three in four (78%) said the British were so in the dark about European issues that a referendum could not be justified.
‘A lot of the UK public know nothing about Europe or its issues. They are only told what politicians want them to hear,’ said one anonymous FD. ‘If there is a vote, a lot of people will not know why or what they are voting for.’
Of those questioned, 44% said people probably did not know enough about the issues and 34% replied that they definitely did not.
Tony Blair, who had previously ruled out a referendum on the issue, undertook the biggest U-turn of his career after deciding to let the people ‘once and for all’ have their say on Britain’s role in Europe.
However, it has left many unimpressed, fearing the vote will be hijacked by the bigger issue of whether the UK should remain part of the European Union, or whether the UK should adopt the single currency.
‘The problem faced by any referendum on Europe, be it the euro or the constitution, is that the arguments become polarised between pro and anti-Europe,’ said one respondent.
Just 11% said people would have enough knowledge of the issues by the time the vote comes along, for which no date has yet been set.
Others, though, were worried about the role of the media and how it could influence the vote.
‘I’m sure Rupert Murdoch will help us decide which way to vote,’ said one respondent.
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