Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Sunday 26 June 2016

The EU Referendum part iii

So, I’ve been bouncing this around, and, of course, I’ve written about this before, on the day of the EU Referendum and a couple of days later.
Another thought... still just one woman
photo by James K Barnett

First of all, after my last post, I was accused of being undemocratic. That’s fine. Think what you like.

However, it would appear that some people are confusing an election with a referendum. An election must be acted upon, but a referendum is about asking the opinion of the people; it isn’t an automatic mandate for change. Our democracy requires that we vote for our representatives in parliament and then trust them to get on with the job. The referendum doesn't change that… A general election just might.

Now, for today’s thoughts.

I’m going to make some assumptions, and extrapolate.

Firstly, let’s assume that David Cameron gained power within his party and manoeuvred himself into the top slot in government with the backing of the Conservatives. In order to achieve this aim, Cameron had to do something to appease the Eurosceptics in his party, and he chose the promise of a referendum on membership of the EU as an enticement, a carrot, if you like. The Eurosceptics took the bait, and Cameron was elected as party leader, and, with the backing of the Eurosceptics, PM.

Of course, Cameron finally had to deliver on his promise, despite being in favour of remaining in the European Union.

Now, in the wake of the Exit vote, the Conservative party has no leader, and David Cameron is keeping the seat warm for the next leader of his party and the next PM.

Suppose that the Conservative party is largely against the Exit from Europe. Suppose that a candidate for leader emerges from the Remain brigade, and suppose that person becomes the new leader of the Conservative party and our new PM.

What then?

If Johnson or Gove don’t become the next PM, then whoever takes up the mantle might also decide not to pull the trigger on Article 50.

I imagine the first piece of business in this situation would be for the new PM to call a General Election. It might be the first and possibly only act of the next Prime Minister.

In effect, this makes the next general election a referendum on our EU membership.

But people vote very differently in a general election from the way they vote in a referendum.

If the Conservatives, Labour and the LibDems all fight from a platform of remaining in the EU, who does that leave to satisfy the referendum electorate?

Well, I guess that leaves UKIP. Can UKIP field enough MPs to gain a majority in the House of Commons? And if they can field enough MPs, can they win those seats?

History suggests that this is an impossible proposition.

If Wales and Cornwall were voting by-election style on an issue and not their political allegiances when they overwhelmingly voted for the Exit, then those voters might vote Labour in the next general election, particularly if the Labour party plays down Europe and offers a realistic way forward for some of the poorest areas in the UK. The Conservatives would face having to come out on top in a third general election in a row. (You notice I don't say ‘win a third general election in a row’, because the Conservatives didn’t win in 2010. It’s always been my contention that we ended up with a government that nobody elected, because there was no ‘coalition’ box to tick. I wonder how democratic my detractors think that situation was. But we endured it for five years.)

I don’t know what is going to happen over the next few months. I do know that, one way or another, it will probably all be over by Christmas.

The husband and I were only saying, the other day, how soon Christmas will be upon us, and how time flies. Now, I think the next six months could feel like an eternity.

I remain hopeful that this whole mess can be brought to a satisfying conclusion for the UK and for Europe. Right now, I’m not sure what that means.

I am European.

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