So apparently a EU referendum in the UK is winnable (which I still doubt). But new YouGov research suggests that the only thing you need to do is convince ‘pragmatic nationalists’ and scare some ‘worried nationalists’. It is an interesting piece of polling analysis by Peter Kellner (president of yougov) – so make sure you read the whole thing.
However, there are a couple of problems: There is no functioning campaign capacity on the yes side (the fundamental opposition to anything ‘European’ is well organised) – and I am wondering how the media factor (which has changed considerably in the last 30 years) should be taken into account. There is no way to have a sensible public debate on ‘Europe’ in this country. Would the Daily Mail or the Sun support a Conservative Prime Minister who claims to have renegotiated Britain’s EU membership?
‘Renegotiation’ is also one of those myths. There is absolutely no appetite among EU member states to actually renegotiate anything – and for most of the stuff you need unanimity among member states. Plus the present political dynamics in European politics may as well tear apart the Conservative Party. So it is not surprising that the first statements are being made that suggest to postpone the referendum question – either by promising an in/out referendum after the next election (and they need to win the election!) or by declaring the next election as a referendum of some sorts. All of these options will annoy the eurosceptics…
But then again, the strategy of Cameron seems quite straightforwards: Pleasing the anti-EU grassroots with mild eurosceptic rhetoric (immigration), the occasional opt-out – maybe using the JHA ‘nuclear opt-out’ – trying to get around the referendum somehow.
But the lack of any positive engagement with ‘Europe’, the alienation of classic UK allies and Cameron’s tendency to lecture the rest of the EU what to do (obviously without taking part) will not help Cameron to ‘deliver’ on his grand renegotiation ideas.
And the irony of the story? While David Cameron may loose his job/ party support because of ‘Europe’; the UK is sleepwalking into 2nd class EU membership. And at that point, the referendum will be meaningless. (ok I should explain this in more detail – but not today, maybe another time)