VAL 2016 | Som det ser ut nu kommer premiärminister David Cameron att få ett Ja i folkomröstningen om Storbritannien skall stanna kvar i EU eller inte.
Som så många gånger i valrörelser handlar det inte bara om att ena sidan kampanjar väl utan lika mycket om att motståndarna är riktigt dåliga.
Trots att ingen, inte ens EU-anhängarna, blev speciellt imponerade av innehållet i det avtal som Cameron tog med sig hem från EU-förhandlingarna verkar motståndarna blivit helt tagna på sängen.
Anhängarna av Brexit verkar varken kunna formulera ett konsekvent budskap eller få sin kampanjorganisation på plats. Och med tanke på det tidiga datumet för folkomröstningen måste man på bara några månader göra det man skulle behöva år för.
Eurosceptics could hardly have asked for more favourable conditions for a referendum. After barely surviving a financial crisis, the European Union has been overwhelmed by an immigration crisis — one made much worse by its failure to control its own borders. The European Commission seems determined to make itself even more unpopular in Britain, and is considering whether VAT should be levied on food and children’s clothes. At a time of righteous anger at sweetheart tax deals for multinational corporations, the man who bears more responsibility for these than anyone else in Europe is its president, the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker.
Then came David Cameron’s renegotiation. After months in the kitchen, Cameron has come up with the political equivalent of nouvelle cuisine: a tiny, disappointing dish served up with a big fanfare. He has nothing, for example, on the Common Agricultural Policy, or the fisheries policy that has inflicted such misery on British seaside towns. When he proposed the referendum three years ago, he spoke of a fundamental recasting of Britain’s relationship with the EU. This has been abandoned. Donald Tusk, president of the EU Council, confirmed after unveiling the proposed deal that the principles of the EU would not be altered by it.
So this ought to be the moment of Eurosceptic triumph. Instead, the movement is in chaos.
The arguments for Brexit are all there, waiting for someone persuasive to marshal them. Events could also intervene. Cameron and Osborne are so keen to get this vote over as soon as possible because both know how volatile the situation is. A repeat of last summer’s migrant crisis, another ‘Cologne’ or the eurozone going to the brink again could sway public opinion towards quitting the EU.
Yet at the moment Britain is sleepwalking into an ever more centralised EU, and the painful truth is that Euroscepticism is not ready for the confrontation that it has so long agitated for. With the government intent on a June referendum, the ‘out’ campaign will have a few months to do the work of years. If it cannot do that, then Britain will stay in the European Union. More than that, voters will have ratified the transformation from the European Economic Community that we joined in 1973 to the imperial institution that the European Union is today.
Tidskriftsomslag: The Spectator, 6 februari 2016.