With apologies to the original title – “Mr Deeds goes to town” (Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur 1936). I have noticed there have been a number of film title analogies over the past few months in these blogs !
I was in Berlin last month meeting with Klaus Juhl who runs RDO Germany in Berlin and we had a couple of useful meetings, one with Michael Rabe who is the Secretary General of BTW, which represents the travel and leisure industry in Germany, of which RDO is a member, and we also had a very useful meeting with an MP member of the ruling CDU/CSU coalition who is on the Tourism Committee of the Bundestag, to discuss timeshare in Germany, and how it can help the domestic tourism industry.
At the beginning of each meeting, I was faced with the same question – “Is UK going to stay in the EU?”. On each occasion I ended up giving the same answer – namely it will depend on what changes/improvements Mr Cameron can eventually bring back to the electorate here in the UK. I do however think this is a bit of a generational issue and wonder if we don’t pay too much heed to a generation that isn’t going to be greatly affected by these changes if we pull out?
I did ask our youngest (William aged 18), who would be affected long term and has just voted in our General Election this month – the lovely ladies at the polling station fell on him like a long lost son – “is this your first time voting etc?” I thought they were going to offer to go into the booth with him to help!! I digress, I asked him if he saw the in/out EU referendum as a big issue – well first he was worried we wouldn’t be able to participate in the Eurovision song contest if we were not EU members (he’s a big fan) – once I had re-assured him that wouldn’t make a difference, he felt “we should stick around to see how it develops” – I took that as an affirmation we should stay in!
I don’t think anyone would disagree that some changes are needed to the original Treaty and that will be hard enough to obtain, but if the PM can secure some meaningful improvements to make it more flexible, then hopefully we will make progress. Some of us can remember the last referendum on the EU – it was great fun with some lively meetings – let’s hope today’s inclination to wrap politicians in cotton wool and keep them away from the electorate means there won’t be any lively open meetings!!
Anyway to finish my Berlin story – it was agreed at both meetings that whatever Mrs Merkel decided on the UK’s position – would be crucial to whether Mr Cameron could claim success or not. This story will run and run as they say!