It is always amusing to see when the UK media develop a ‘narrative’ on a subject and interpret every new development or incident in that light. The narrative is currently “Tories in disarray on Europe,” so every turn of events is adduced as yet more evidence of this. David Cameron’s plan to introduce a bill in this parliament to make a referendum binding in the next one is described as “a panic reaction,” “ill-conceived,” “adding fuel to the flames,” and all the usual stuff. In fact it looks rather clever. The government cannot bring in such a bill without the consent of their coalition partners, which the Liberal-Democrats will not give, so it will be introduced as a private members bill which most Tory MPs will support. A few Labour MPs will support it as well.
It puts Labour on the back foot, in that if they oppose it they will be denying the UK public the right to have a say in their future. That is partly what David Cameron has in mind. He also has in mind that it will strengthen his hand in negotiations with our EU partners for a more independent relationship with them. And he undoubtedly looks at how this might neutralize some of the UKIP support recently seen. All in all, it’s a rather clever piece of politics that addresses many problems simultaneously, but the media will not take it that way. They will shoehorn it into their ‘narrative’ as “more evidence of Tory disarray,” “public relations disaster,” and so on. Ah well, they’ll learn. As for the referendum, I think it’s going down. The local council elections lit a fuse that leads at the end of it to Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. Our partners simply will not allow us to run our own affairs, because if they did, everyone else would want the same. I predict that there will be a referendum, and the electors will vote to leave.
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