Wow isn’t my timing great! Just as I decide to wind down my European blogging, the Conservatives go and get a majority and an In/Out referendum is on the table for 2017. Under those circumstances, I think even the Australians will be a bit more interested in EU issues, so I’ll write a bit more about them than I have been doing!
So what are my thoughts on this the day after? I’m not a big fan of referenda in general – we have a representative democracy and in the absence of clear instructions, as in the Irish constitution, on which issues should go to a referendum, it seems to me to be either a cop out or a buck pass. As in UK politics in general, matters get reduced to a simple black/white, when we know that they are almost always more nuanced than that.
Having said that, if there is one, then bring it on. I’m not worried about having a chance to have the debate, and within a referendum campaign, I am hoping that those who see our membership of the EU as a necessity, or something of importance, but have had no real reason to articulate that publicly, may now be prepared to stand up and be counted. Hopefully there will be more room in public debate for both, or rather all, sides of the argument. Hopefully we will move on from a situation where three-quarters of the stories in the BBC’s UK and the EU section are about Nigel Farage.
The interesting dimension is Scotland, and also Wales and Northern Ireland. If English votes take the UK out of the EU, how will that play in those home nations that have tended to have a more realistic if not necessarily positive relationship with the EU?
These are certainly going to be “interesting times” for a Eurogeek, whichever side of the world I will be on in 2017.