Tuesday, 15 March 2011

What would happen if we got an EU referendum?

Maybe its my youthful optimism (or stupidity) but with the arrival of the new People's Pledge campaign alongside the already established EU Referendum Campaign, it seems as though the tide is finally turning. I believe that we may finally get a referendum on EU membership.

How? Well, I simply don't see David Cameron granting one. He bottled it big time with his "cast iron" Lisbon Treaty commitment and knows full well that the issue of whether the UK should stay in or leave the EU could split his Party down the middle.

The same is simply not true for the Labour or Liberal Democrats. Labour MPs who would opt for the UK to leave the EU would probably be restricted to at most, a gang of 15 - 20 backbenchers. The LibDems Parliamentary party would unanimously vote to stay in. I

Thus, Cameron has a lot more to potentially lose from an EU referendum. Not just in terms of receiving the pro-withdrawal vote that he wouldn't want, but from a Party that would suffer from serious internal division. That is why I think the best bet may be if the Labour Party put an In/Out referendum in their next manifesto, just as the LibDems did in 2010.

Ed Miliband will count on the backing of the big Union cash to help get the result he wants, selling the referendum as a way of causing utter chaos in the Tory ranks, not to mention the fact that it would split the Coalition down the middle at the same time. And as europhiles tend to think, they would no doubt be convinced that when those silly ordinary voters really learn about the EU, the tide of public opinion would turn and rally behind Britain's continued membership.

A mass of money would be involved. Vested interests would come into play, obviously. One only has to look at the huge sums pumped into Ireland during the Lisbon Treaty referendum to see how big business, the media and the political establishment (Cameron, Clegg, Miliband) would create an unholy Westminster alliance with unlimited funds and the majority of politicians on their side as they urged the public to back EU membership.

But it wouldn't go that way. As debates got underway, the Farage's, Carswell's and Kelvin Hopkins' of the no vote would be a stark contrast to the unpopular, familiar faces of the establishment pro-EU camp. A huge grassroots movement of those desperate to get Britain out of the EU would take to the streets and would be vastly more effective than the pro-EU foot soldiers, a sympathetic electorate interested and engaged in taking their opportunity to kick all three main Party Leaders and finally have their say on the EU after decades of being deprived of one. Let down by Prime Minister after Prime Minister, government after government, the debate would catch the interest of the public in a massive way. Both sides of the argument would argue that this was a massive and decisive moment in British political history.

Britain would leave after around 65% of voters backed Britain to be independent once again, on a whooping 73% turnout. A realignment of British politics would commence, a new era in British foreign relations would begin. As Westminster trembled, UKIP would claim to have helped bring back the most positive and drastic reform in recent modern history. From there the \Party would continue to pursue a libertarian, small government agenda that took advantage of a Tory Party that remained divided, as the Labour and Liberal Democrats scratched their heads looking to see how quickly they could get Britain back into the EU.

It would be a sweet moment, but one that would perhaps not truly settle the EU question. After all, the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader would still both be of the opinion that the whole referendum had been a terrible mistake, nevermind how pleased the public were with the result...


Anonymous said...

IF we were ever to get such a referendum, there is no doubt in my mind that the combined weight of Con/Lab/Lib - not to mention the huge amounts of money that the European Commission would channel into the "Yes" movement - would completely quash any "N" effort.

Anonymous said...

I really hope that dream comes true but no way on earth will I vote Labour back into power. They almost bankrupted this country. If they got in and we left the EU who would help us out when Labour spend all the money.... again!

Whistle said...

The EU never helped us out at ANY time,so that question would never arise.We would simply be a lot better off out of it than in it.