Taking the Brexit
Bidet
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So, whilst Queenie's morning routine has been disrupted by having to open Parliament (why is there never a large ribbon and an oversized pair of scissors for this?), most of the press coverage has been about the proposed EU referendum bill.

No doubt the passage through the two Houses will be fun, and then we've the joy of the referendum itself (early bet: 60-40 'IN', no great differences across the UK) but for now, some initial thoughts on what we already know.

The Franchise
I'm happy with those eligible to vote in a general election being allowed to vote in this (plus their Lordships). It's a major constitutional issue.
I'm unconvinced by votes for 16/17 year olds anyway, but wouldn't push the issue.

Quadruple lock
Should each part of the UK have a majority in favour of exit before exiting?
If we had a proper constitution and procedure of editing it (including a senate representing the regions and nations) this would probably be part of the amendment process. Major constitutional change shouldn't be done hastily, and there should be some curbs, but I'm not convinced this is the right model, given the overwhelming dominance of England.
And I don't remember the SNP letting Orkney go their own way on independence, or indeed letting the English vote on whether we agree with the Union too.

Necessity
Yes, long overdue. Should have had one over Lisbon, frankly. For too long the EU has been an elitist project, and the public tend to be excluded and alienated from the communnity. I think the public are smart enough to decide on whether they are happy with the set-up or if we should bid a fond adieu.

Going to be a long two years!
I can't see Scotland every saying 'OUT' so I can't see any real point to holding a referendum with a quadruple lock.

I totally agree there should have been one over Lisbon, I'm not sure I agree about this. Lisbon was basically a case of 'do we let the EU push us into ratifying a load of stuff we don't really think is a good idea', this would be a referendum on the nuclear option of withdrawal, which is something that needs a lot more political handling.
Problem is, none of the other 27 countries really want to reopen the treaties and go through another extended, convoluted reform and ratification process.
I'm not expecting much from Cameron's 'renegotiation' either: like Mr Wilson's, it will probably be very small fry.

Case of 'are we happy with the EU we've got, not the one we want'.

Of course, if the OUTie camp say that we'll get those handsome dark blue hardbacked passports back, they might be on to a winner ;)
I'll quickly chip in at this stage with another Cavey prediction: it's going to be nowhere near 2 years. My money's on next Spring (2016).

Especially if Greece finally goes tits up, which I think will happen also. That can can't be kicked along that road for much longer; the IMF want their pound of flesh.

In terms of whether or not we end up leaving: I reckon ~80% likelihood for 'out' at the moment (and that includes Scotland btw; they won't vote for it but will have to lump it)
Are we 100% in now?

We still keep the pound so we can't be can we?
asfish wrote:
Are we 100% in now?

We still keep the pound so we can't be can we?


EU membership and monetary union are totally separate from each other.
Cavey wrote:
I'll quickly chip in at this stage with another Cavey prediction: it's going to be nowhere near 2 years. My money's on next Spring (2016).

Especially if Greece finally goes tits up, which I think will happen also. That can can't be kicked along that road for much longer; the IMF want their pound of flesh.

In terms of whether or not we end up leaving: I reckon ~80% likelihood at the moment (and that includes Scotland btw, albeit they won't vote for it)


I'll take those odds ;)
Labour's Andy Burnham is suggesting that Labour should run its own 'IN!' campaign..

I'm a little disappointed that people think that sharing platforms and working with other parties on issues you agree when that issue's been put to a plebiscite is a bad thing, but then perhaps I don't appreciate the underlying passions.

Second Reading is scheduled for Monday.
I see The Sun is saying we should stay in the EU.
Grim... wrote:
I see The Sun is saying we should stay in the EU.


Really? Wow.
As I'm still boycotting it, do you know on what grounds? Would the end of free movement cause a reduction in the importation of page 3 beauties or stories about silly EU regulations?
Dunno, I only saw the headline.
I don't personally think there will be a mainstream 'out' campaign. I can't think of a major group for whom pushing for out would be in their interest.
Grim... wrote:
I see The Sun is saying we should stay in the EU.


I, I agree with The Sun on something? I need to address everything I think about anything.

I need a sit down.
Cras wrote:
I don't personally think there will be a mainstream 'out' campaign. I can't think of a major group for whom pushing for out would be in their interest.


And moderates would be revolted by the key figures fronting such a campaign.

I was reading in Sandbrook's 'Seasons in the Sun' that in the 1975 referendum, the 'yes' campaign was led by moderate and popular figures of the major parties, but the exit campaign was fronted by all those considered 'outsiders' such as Enoch Powell and Tony Benn who were likely to deter people.

If the fruitcakes were kept away, a campaign led by, say, the eloquent Giesla Stuart or Dan Hannan might provide the calm reasonableness of the Eurosceptic case, but they'd always risk being tarnished by the actions of the fringe

Course, it might be worth leaving just to annoy the SNP (who oddly were all for an early de facto exit last September... ;) )
These days though, campaigning for a referendum result requires money more than charismatic speakers. And where's the money coming from in an exit vote?
Cras wrote:
These days though, campaigning for a referendum result requires money more than charismatic speakers. And where's the money coming from in an exit vote?


Good question. It would, however, allow them to play the underdog/anti-elite card.
Where does the money for UKIP come from?
Grim... wrote:
I see The Sun is saying we should stay in the EU.

Of course, because that's what Rupert Dave wants
markg wrote:
Where does the money for UKIP come from?


According to the Electoral Commission, Rock Services Ltd, Northern & Shell Media Group, and Paul Sykes Group Ltd, plus an assortment of small donors. Impressively large amounts of cash from a really small group of donors. In Q1 UKIP pulled in 1/10th of what the Conservatives did, unsurprisingly.
Morte wrote:
Grim... wrote:
I see The Sun is saying we should stay in the EU.


I, I agree with The Sun on something? I need to address everything I think about anything.

I need a sit down.

The Sun also thinks you need to sit down!
In our 2005 eu Constitution referendum all mainparties and unions and media were pro constitution. Still this meant the campaign was so weak and unconvincing. The underdogs saw their chances
They should get Cleggy up as the main pro-EU charismatic speaker. He's ace.
Kern wrote:
And moderates would be revolted by the key figures fronting such a campaign.

A Eurosceptic acquaintence was dismayed that Farage stayed at UKIP. He felt that if Farage had gone, there was a chance UKIP could mount a reasoned campaign for No in the referendum. But with Farage in place, UKIP can't escape the shadow of the wingnuts, and so cannot hope to court the votes of any moderates. There logic there.
I thought the prevailing theory was that UKIP was only as unwingnutty as it even is right now because of Farage and without him it would collapse into comedy bongo bongo land style nonsense?
Yes, surely the idea that UKIP could be a force for 'No!' only works in a theoretical world where it's possible to make the case intelligently; in reality, the nuts come with the territory, and without Farage to be an acceptable face it'd be like, I don't know, still liking Gary Glitter's music. The latter ought to be possible, the creator is irrelevant, but it's just too embarrassing for anyone to admit to, even to themselves.
Cameron, yesterday, said he'd sack any minister who campaigned for a No vote in the referendum. Today, he walked that back, claiming he was misinterpreted, despite multiple journalist transcripts from the event yesterday showing he was actually very clear.

The reasonable hypothesis is that he doesn't have enough control over his slim majority to enforce any sort of whip on the referendum, which in turn implies a party deeply divided. The hardline Euroskeptic Conservatives for Britain group (50 MPs, and they claim they'll have 50 more soon) have demanded concessions from Europe which Philip Hammond is already calling "unachievable". Going to be some fractious times ahead, I think.
He's definitely in trouble if he doesn't think he can get his ministers to vote the way he wants!
In other European Unity news, the Belgians have issued a two-and-a-half euro coin to remember the bicentennial of an earlier example of multinational co-operation after the French blocked a proper two euro coin.
Would it affect the Ryder Cup?
Cras wrote:
He's definitely in trouble if he doesn't think he can get his ministers to vote the way he wants!

I think they probably will vote the way he wants. But publicly threatening them to do so is rather hostile.

That said, regardless of your view of evil Tories, it is refreshing to consider that a large group of MPs would vote on personal principal rather than job and career protection grounds.
MPs is one thing - ministers is something else entirely.
As expected, the bill passed. The only major opposition, as noted in the Scotxit* thread, came from the SNP. I can't decide if they were arguing against the principle of a referendum or the nature of the one presented.

Incidentally, as this was raised in a couple of interventions from SNP MPs, whilst it might seem odd that a member of the Scottish Parliament, along with other long-term residents from other countries, could be excluded from the Euroref poll, I find it hard to get worked up about the offer. Whilst dual nationality is sometime prohibited in other countries, I've never come across strong demands for non-citizens to vote in general elections and as this is a major constitutional issue I'm content that the franchise offered (general election electors, plus peers, plus those living on the rock) is reasonable.

* The first and only time that phrase will appear on this forum.
So, 'remain or leave' will be the question rather than the 'Yes/No' option. It makes more sense as we're discussing the status quo, although the increase in the number of wordslooks clumsy. Not sure either camp will want to known as 'remain/'leave' rather than the catchier 'In or Out'. Shame I missed an academic who taught me being interviewed on 'PM' last night about this issue.

I think the bill is scheduled to pass its remaining Commons stages next week.

Haven't even begun to get my head around the complexities of Cameron's decision about when to hold the poll.
Kern wrote:
the complexities of Cameron's decision
can't tell if serious.
Actually, serious.

It must be held by the end of 2017 according to the bill, and cannot coincide with the elections in May. We can reasonably assume that he wants the vote to keep us in the beloved organisation too.

Leave it too late and let opposition build up, especially within his own party. Have it too early and risk being overtaken by events. Also, consider forthcoming French and German elections over this period and what Cameron might want from other countries might not play with Merkel and Hollandes' plans for their campaigns and what they might be willing to concede might vary as their elections approach. The UK will also be preparing for its turn in the big Brussels chair near the end of this window, and negotiating to leave whilst in that position might be awkward.

I love the game of politics.
Speaking of games, over at 'Wings over the Westcountry', there's a post complaining that the BBC didn't include SNP members in its report on the vote to ditch the government's 'purdah-lite' provisions in the Bill.

Funnily enough, ['the author'] omits to mention which party was the only one to vote against the Bill. I'm still not sure what their opposition to a referendum is based on, other than their arguments in favour of an extended franchise and a federal-style quadruple lock.
Their Lordships voted to enfranchise 16 & 17 year olds. Not sure if the Commons will overturn this, either on principle or because an extended game of ping-pong would delay enactment and the vote.

I'm still on the fence about this, but there's a lot to be said for the benefits of being able to get some dutch courage before entering the polling booth when faced with two equally unappetising choices.

As some Lords and Ladies noted, this goes against the trend in recent years to raise the age to do things from 16 to 18.
There's an interesting piece by one of my old tutors on the Constitution Unit's blog about the procedure for leaving the EU. The main argument, echoing a similar piece in Prospect last month is that it'd be tricky because the deal would be between us and the 27 other countries .
did i already post luyendijks article here? http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfre ... are_btn_fb we've been too nice..
I'm not sure that approach is likely to make people love the EU.
http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britai ... KKCN0VC0XW

Quote:
Dubbing it a farce, a joke and a delusion - Britain's largely eurosceptic press ripped into a deal to keep the country in the European Union on Wednesday, accusing Prime Minister David Cameron of selling out.
...
"Your Brussels deal has done nothing to halt migrants, nothing to win powers back for Britain," said the Sun, which is owned by one of the world's most powerful media barons, Rupert Murdoch. "Sorry prime minister, but ... it stinks."

The Daily Mail also poured scorn on the deal, by saying Cameron stood accused of "delusion and selling the country short", while the more centrist Financial Times said the British leader faced a battle to sell the plan to his own lawmakers.
...
Cameron will address parliament later on Wednesday, where he will face tough questions from British lawmakers, including eurosceptics from his ruling Conservative Party who have not been shy about criticizing it. One of them, former Defense Secretary Liam Fox, said the deal was little more than "empty promises".


I guess we know which way the press is going to jump, then, as it seems unlikely Cameron will get any more out of the EU than he has negotiated in this deal. I imagine the chances of the referendum outcome being a vote to leave the EU just went up by a lot.
I reckon people's fear of change will swing things the 'remain' camp's way, especially as there are serious divisions within the various leave groups and few big hitters backing Brexit. The EU also isn't really a salient issue for most people most of the time. Unless there's a repeat of last summer's migrant situation it is not going to be on their agenda. Cameron needs to get it over before the summer, however, to stop this possibility occurring.
The topic came up over lunch with friends on Saturday. Most said they didn't know enough to make a decision and didn't know where to start. I suggested they thought about an issue that mattered to them and investigated what role, if any, the EU played in it and whether they felt satisfied with what they discovered. I also pointed out that there were plenty of left-wing Eurosceptic arguments that aren't heard as much as the current focus on immigration. I was at loss about what books or articles would be a good place to start, unless they really have the time to plough through Hugo Young's masterful 'This Blessed Plot'.

I think on both sides the debate is going to be about the EU/UK we would like, rather than the EU/UK we've got.
I suspect a good portion of the debate will be regarding the EU/UK that people seem to bizarrely imagine we have.
Cras wrote:
I suspect a good portion of the debate will be regarding the EU/UK that people seem to bizarrely imagine we have.


Heh, that too.
The debate will be about whatever Rupert Murdoch wants it to be about.
23rd June! Are you excited?
Is it still over 18s only?

I assume it is, which is a shame, as if it was 2 weeks later, my eldest son would old enough to vote in it.
Bah, quick look on the bbc site, confirms it's 18+

he will be disappointed :(
I don't ever vote, ever. I will be voting on this though.
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