I had been thinking about the forthcoming referendum on EU membership, and thought about what would happen if the vote was for leaving. I believe that the government would prevaricate as much as possible and do its best to delay actually leaving in the hope of finding some way of keeping us in. I wondered how this strategy could be countered and came up with a suggested course of action. I wrote to my MP, setting out the suggestion, and the pertinent text of my letter is as follows:
“We have just been told of Cameron’s uninspiring demands for reform of the EU. They have been ridiculed by some MPs and look like being mostly ignored in Brussels.
Perhaps the sensible thing to do now would be to lodge a notification in accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union of Britain’s intention to withdraw from the EU, as this would start the two year clock ticking and that two years will expire at the end of 2017, which is the latest date for the referendum on EU membership to be held.
Such an action may encourage EU institutions to take Britain a bit more seriously. It will also give Cameron some credibility within Britain, as many people here believe that he is only saying that he will hold a referendum because he has been backed into a corner, and that he is, at heart, really just Chancellors Merkel’s poodle.
(Ed: Despite today’s Telegraph report that “David Cameron may campaign for Brexit, allies say” ?)
I know that paragraph 4 of Article 50 would exclude Cameron and any British Council member from the discussions of the European Council or the Council, but Cameron has laid out his demands and the EU will either accept them or they won’t. Such exclusion from these institutions will only benefit Britain’s position as Cameron will not be able to dilute his demands, under EU pressure, if he is not there. Paragraph 4 does not exclude MEPs from participating in discussions, so perhaps our elected EU representatives should be the ones to represent Britain in any discussions regarding any future relationship with the EU?
The referendum, if it actually happens, will ultimately show whether or not the public swallow whatever the EU decides of offer us. If the electorate votes to remain in the EU, then the Article 50 notification can be withdrawn and EU business can resume as usual. If the electorate votes to leave the EU, then the democratic will of the electorate can be implemented without undue delay.”
The reply I got from my MP said:
“I have taken careful note of what you have to say but I don’t think that the suggestion you make regarding article 50 is practical.”
This comes as no surprise, but I thought it was worth a try. If an Article 50 notice was lodged with the EU, and the referendum result was to leave, it would be virtually impossible for the government to find an excuse to keep us in. He goes on to say:
“As far as the EU referendum is concerned, I am in the “wait and see” camp. As it stands today I feel the price of staying in the single market is too high.”
This remark about the price of the single market being too high is refreshing, but it would have been nice to have a mention of things like immigration and sovereignty as well as just the single market. I still suspect that the “wait and see” bit is about waiting to see how the whips tell him to vote.