Europe and the European Union has long been an issue that has dominated British politics. This culminates on June 23rd when the British public will be asked in a referendum whether they want to stay in the EU or leave the EU. To many on both sides of the argument, this may be the perfect way to end the discussion and move on. However in all reality and likelihood this referendum will not kill the issue.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage recently mooted a narrow ‘Remain’ win could lead to unstoppable momentum for a second referendum. This idea was immediately quashed by David Cameron who rejected the idea of a ‘neverendum’ and by leading ‘Leave’ campaigner Chris Grayling who insisted there should be no second referendum and that the government must listen to the views of the public, but this does not mean Farage hasn’t got a point.
The result of the referendum although binding will not change the opinions of politicians who passionately believe in their cause. If as the betting markets suggest the country votes to remain, it will not suddenly mean all Eurosceptics become fans of the EU and give up on their campaign. To a lot of politicians on all sides of the debate, this is why they are in politics and the idea they can simply walk away is ridiculous.
Europe and the EU is constantly changing. It is hard to predict with any certainty what will happen in the next few years. One event could change everything and there is a remote possibility of a new deal which triggers existing legislation for a referendum. A different Prime Minister, maybe a Eurosceptic Prime Minister could also see the issue differently. In politics with so much out of your control it is foolish to rule anything out.
The result of the referendum is paramount to what happens next. A surprise win for ‘Leave’ would by definition be decisive, but if as expected ‘Remain’ wins the future is less clear. Obviously there will be no immediate second referendum, but as Farage suggested a close result will keep the topic in the spotlight. There is too much heat around the EU for this to simply disappear from our politics and therefore our politicians will be banging on about Europe for some time to come yet.
Article by Mike Hough
Photograph – The Independent