Wednesday, 8 April 2015
An in-out referendum
I do not often disagree with Jonathan Calder, but I think he (and Tony Blair) might be wrong on the subject of an EU referendum. I regret that an in-out national vote was not held as soon as practical after the coalition government came into being. It could have been held instead of that pointless AV referendum. It would almost certainly have produced a sensible result as Labour would not have used it as a stick to beat Nick Clegg with*. It would also have removed a cause for dissension within our coalition partners as well as a major UKIP plank.
Clearly we do not share the mentality of the Swiss, who seem to have referendums at the drop of a hat, but this issue has been made a central and exceptional one in the UK media. There would have to be parameters, of course. It would be, as is our tradition, non-binding and the government should not even take note of the result if less than a majority of those able to vote were in favour of Brexit.
The period of uncertainty referred to by Blair would not last long enough to cause irrevocable decisions by manufacturers to be made and, in my opinion, would serve to concentrate minds as foreign investors would be forced to "come out" and voice their reasons for being in the UK. Between three and four million jobs are linked to trade with the EU and, while that is not the same as saying that they would necessarily all be lost if we exited, it is also obvious that all would be affected in some way.
I agree with Guido Fawkes and Nigel Farage that we should trust the people on this issue which cuts across party boundaries. I believe they would make the right decision - but not the one that Kippers expect.
* Nick recently admitted that he felt betrayed by Labour who he expected to support him in the proposal which, after all, had come from the Labour side of their failed coalition talks.