Newswise — AMES, Iowa – Ellen Pirro is not ready to make any predictions just yet. The lecturer of political science at Iowa State University says a lot can still happen between now and June 23 to affect the outcome of Britain’s referendum to leave the European Union.

“It is such a tight squeeze that it could go either way. You can go into any group of British citizens, and I have, and it will divide in half,” Pirro said. “My belief is that there will be some kind of event or something that will precipitate how the referendum will go, that’s how close it is.”

Pirro says it’s impossible to know what that event might be, but as with any election a major crisis or event could sway voters in one direction. There is already a great deal of dissension in the European Union, because of the migrant crisis and the financial collapse in Greece, Pirro said. And should Britain decide to leave the EU, the consequences could be devastating.

“If the Brits pull out that is going to change the whole nature of the European Union; it may pull it apart,” Pirro said. “It may splinter the entire EU or it may mean that the EU staggers along greatly diminished.”

In an effort to keep the EU intact, Prime Minister David Cameron struck a deal with the other countries, granting several concessions to Britain. Pirro says the most significant is an agreement that Britain will never pay welfare benefits for citizens in other EU countries. The polls are still too close to know if this deal will make a difference. But despite conservative opposition to the EU, Pirro says it offers more advantages than disadvantages for European countries and the U.S.

“The European Union is the world’s largest trading bloc and it helps the U.S. economy. We trade more with the EU than almost anywhere else, except China,” she said. “There are so many good things that have come out of the EU, such as the standardization of products. All products must have the same measurements and the same price all across the European Union. That’s a great benefit.”

Pirro can discuss other benefits of the EU as well as how Britain’s history and traditions factor into the decision on the referendum. In addition to her work in the classroom, Pirro leads a team of Iowa State students, which competes every spring in the Midwest Model European Union. She’s also a former consultant for the U.S. Department of State, having worked on women’s issues, economic development and agricultural development.

Iowa State University News Service has a fully equipped, digital broadcast studio, available for live video interviews to broadcast networks. Contact Angie Hunt (515-294-8986, amhunt@iastate.edu) or Dave Olson (515-294-5992, dlolson@iastate.edu) in the ISU News Service office to make arrangements.

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