We have been promised a referendum on EU membership before the end of 2017, and it will be difficult for Cameron to weasel out of it this time. However, if the referendum actually happens, and if the “No” vote actually wins it, this is only just the beginning of the fight for our freedom.
In order for us to leave the EU, I believe that two steps must be taken. The European Communities Act 1972 (ECA 72) must be repealed completely, and an Article 50 (of the Treaty on European Union) notice must be lodged with the EU. Repeal of the ECA 72 is required as this is the UK Law that gives EU law effectiveness within our borders. Without this repeal, EU law will still be effective in the UK. An Article 50 notice is also required as we will still be signed up to the treaties in the eyes of international law, which will affect things like fisheries. Article 50 is the only way out of the EU that cannot be disputed in international law, although it may take up to two years to be effective, if the horse-trading does not result in an agreement sooner.
If the referendum returns a “No” vote, it will be vital to repeal the ECA 72 as soon as possible because, when the other EU states believe that we might be leaving the EU, much of their populations will make a mad dash to try and get into Britain before we close the door. With the treaties still effective in Britain we will not be able to deny them entry, and we are likely to be swamped with legal EU immigrants. Once the ECA 72 is repealed, we can control our borders as we see fit.
That is what should happen in an ideal world, but I doubt if anyone who might read this believes that this is what will actually happen if there is a “No” vote. Parliament will squeal and shout, and will do everything it can to block our withdrawal. The SNP would be apoplectic, and demand another referendum on Scottish independence, so that Scotland can remain within the wonderful EU whilst Britain goes off to commercial oblivion etc etc. It will be no use looking to the conservative back-benchers to hold Cameron’s feet to the fire. What the conservative back-benchers will do is what they have always done, and vote in the interests of their own careers, after the whips have been round bribing and bullying them.
What I suspect Cameron would do initially is to say that the result has given him a mandate to go back to the EU and demand more changes that will make EU membership acceptable to the British people, and that he will do that and then put the revised offer to a new referendum at some time in the future. That will kick the issue into the long grass, until after the next general election, when it will be somebody else’s problem.