Could there be three ironic (?) tragedies that follow a leave vote?

It strikes me that there may well be three tragedies, with arguably some irony about them, which may follow a potential leave vote on Thursday.

1. The very people who are tending to vote leave, the “non-affluent” C2DEs, are the very people who will suffer the most from the recession which, IMHO, will surely follow a leave vote as night follows day. And there is vast expert back-up for that statement – I won’t list them for the nth time.

2. The very people who are tending to vote leave are the people who are loudly proud of the United Kingdom. They want their country back. Well, they will get their country back – minus Scotland. It takes a strange situation for Alex Salmond to sound statesmanlike, but sound statesmanlike he did yesterday on RTE Irish radio. He said that if the people of Scotland vote overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, which they are very likely to do, and the people of England “in an act of collective madness” vote to leave, and carry the vote overall for the UK, then basically the people of England will be “bouncing” Scotland into another independence referendum which, Alex Salmond reckons, will result in Scottish independence.

3. The very people who are tending to vote leave are loudly proud of the pound sterling. Well, following a leave vote, the pound sterling is highly likely to crash in value and reach parity with the Euro. So, after years of protecting the value of our pound, we’ll be joining the Euro down at its level. Nice job.

And before anyone accuses me of scaremongering, I’d point out that 1 and 3 certainly have endless back-up from independent experts. If you want scaremongering see the “Breaking Point” poster and the “80 million Turks” trope.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • Another possible unintended consequence:

    The Spanish government could hold to ransom the right of residence of the 310,000 UK citizens living in Spain for the handing over of Gibraltar. How would Prime Minister Johnson and Foreign Secretary Gove handle that one?

  • The tragedy of Remain’
    Thee very people tending to vote remain claim it will protect us from Tory rule, but it ultimately endorse the current Tory Government and will also hand a huge block vote to UKIP. In effect making hard right wing governments more rather than less likely.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m voting out because I don’t like the EU, which in it’s 22-23 year history has installed unelected governments in Greece and Italy and has actively worked to decrease social democracy.

  • We won’t be people who say “we told you so” though.

    We will people who say “we have the best ideas to make things better”.

    I am hopeful we won’t get to that stage. I believe Thursday will be close but the right side of close.

  • There is a fourth question which we would be wise not to ignore. Will there be any future for us? Will it be a massive opportunity or should we just pack up?

  • “The Spanish government could hold to ransom the right of residence of the 310,000 UK citizens living in Spain for the handing over of Gibraltar. How would Prime Minister Johnson and Foreign Secretary Gove handle that one?”

    Yes,…yes Mr Rajoy, I hear what you’re saying. Let’s resume this conversation later in the week, but in the meantime, can you remove all of your Spanish trawler fleet from our British waters within the next 48 hours,… Thank you for your phone call, Mr Rajoy, we will no doubt resume our mutual negotiations very soon?

    If your thought process is supine, you can only act supine.

  • Sandy Leslie 21st Jun '16 - 11:16am

    Glenn, Could you please tell my which unelected Greek and Italian governments have been installed by the EU?

  • I’m not sure the Scots would vote to leave the UK (although I’m hoping this discussion will not be relevant). The last referendum centered on the economy as will the next if it happens. The loss of oil revenue will make it hard for the SNP to make the economic case. Also with circa 65% of Scottish exports going to the UK that economic case would likely point to staying in the UK being the lesser of two evils.

  • Matt (Bristol) 21st Jun '16 - 11:41am

    I agree with what Anthony Hook said above, more than I ever think I have.
    The constructive participation of the pro-europeans (particularly the pro-european centre-left) in a post-european state (if it happens) will be critical for the preservation of British democracy.

  • Thanks Paul, that is really appreciated.

  • Anyone would think that come Friday, if the result is Leave, we’ll be out. But that’s not the case. The referendum is not legally binding and it could take years to even start the formal process of leaving. Parliament would be foolish to pass the legislation without knowing the nature of the exit: EEA or not EEA for starters. Remember that Leavers are split between those who say we’ll be OK with a Norway deal and those who want to cut all ties. The latter will not be satisfied with an EEA arrangement and the former are petrified by isolation.

    And there’s plenty of time for people to realise their mistakes. What a Leave vote does is establish a means of determining what it actually looks like out there. Free trade, no free trade, free movement or not, Scotland out of the UK, Wales too maybe, land boundaries in Ireland, investment slows or not, employment rights lost or not. If it’s very unpleasant and damaging and Leavers start to backtrack then Parliament won’t press forward and I suspect we’ll have a second vote. Or a general election fought on a cancel leave basis. It’s hard to see how the Tory party would survive as it is and prosper.

    So those tragedies, if forecast correctly, would be reversible and there’s the added bonus of inflicting mortal wounds on the Tories and a realignment of politics. Every cloud has a silver lining.

  • The oil price thing is just a riff on the theme of “too wee, too poor, too stupid”. The truth is that regardless of what the oil price is, Scotland is better off with all the oil revenues under independence than it is by handing them all to Westminster and only getting about 10% of them back.

    David Cameron even admitted as much on 12 June on the Marr show. He noted that Norway does extremely well economically, not because it is outside of the EU, but because it is a small country of similar size to Scotland with a similar amount of oil.

    Nevertheless, I would prefer my country to gain independence with our nearest neighbour also still inside the EU and to hold the independence referendum at the time of our choosing rather than be bounced into it by voters in England taking “leave” of their senses on Thursday. But make no mistake, if there is a leave vote in the UK and Scotland votes to remain, we will be dusting off the YES flags and taking the YES badges out of storage on Friday morning.

  • Stevan Rose

    “The referendum is not legally binding”

    Good god lets not go down that road, whoever wins the referendum – which ever way the result goes – is the winner. No “ifs” or “buts” if the remain side win we stay in, if they lose we are out. Anything else would lead to enormous civil unrest and rightly so.

  • Sandy.
    The ones lead by Mario Monti and Lucas Papademos.

    As leaver I’ve always thought Scotland would be better off independent . If I had a vote in the Scottish referendum I would undoubtedly have voted Yes. Truth be told, I’m virtually always in favour of independence movements. IMO a fair few in the remain camp just like this big faux imperial organisation because it projects an aura power. When someone says to me England would be as significant as Guernsey outside the EU, I just, think, awesome. To me the problem isn’t “Little England” at all. It’s all these people who actually seem to think commissioners and a seat at the big table is an attractive proposition. To be fair there’s quite a few of those in the leave camp too, but personally I suspect they’re a bit delusional.

  • Peter Watson 21st Jun '16 - 2:22pm

    @malc “No “ifs” or “buts” if the remain side win we stay in, if they lose we are out”
    But … if the result is very close either way, will that really be the end of it? Will any result by the narrowest of margins really be decisive?

  • @Al
    “The oil price thing is just a riff on the theme of “too wee, too poor, too stupid”. ”

    That was certainly not my intention. The fact is that a central premise of the SNP position has changed. I do not think the Scots are either too stupid or too wee. The too poor bit post brexit for an independent Scotland within the EU would very much depend on the nature of the deal the EU strikes with the remainder of the UK. If, as threatened, the deal is adversarial in nature the imposition of tariffs would harm any country that exported significantly to the UK and 65% is a huge amount.

    The timeline would also dictate that Scotland would now definitely be a new entrant to the EU and not a continuing member. The process of joining the EU will take more than the 2 years we would have to leave, the referendum itself would take up 1 year of that time. This would mean that the existing deals (such as exemption from joining the Euro and a proportion of the rebate) would be null and void.

    A bit like my view of the UK leaving the EU, I believe that Scotland have the right to choose to leave the Union but sincerely hope they do not. I also genuinely believe both will lose economically if they decide to exercise that right.

  • Peter Watson

    Absolutely, whoever gets the most votes wins and I think most people will accept that.

  • Matt (Bristol) 21st Jun '16 - 3:28pm

    Malc – some leave campaigners has been talking about a second referendum in the event of a narrow win for leave, so I think we cannot guarantee that.

    And Stevan is right, that one person’s ‘Leave’ is not the same as another’s.

  • Peter Watson 21st Jun '16 - 4:10pm

    @malc “whoever gets the most votes wins and I think most people will accept that.”
    Those on the winning side, anyway 😉
    Personally, I expect a lot of ungracious losers, and the closer the result the more bitter the subsequent fallout.
    A counter-view is that a very close result could be a good outcome: if we “Remain” it might strengthen the UK’s hand in future EU negotiations and if we “Exit” then it could justify a commitment to EEA membership.

  • “And Stevan is right, that one person’s ‘Leave’ is not the same as another’s.”

    Tim Farron’s ‘Remain’ came with a desire for EU reform, but Nick Clegg’s Remain, was declared as an EU…” Pretty much as it is now”.
    So, is it not also the case that one persons ‘Remain’ is not the same as another’s.? So, which Remain do you aspire to?

    ~ A reformed EU,.. Remain?
    ~ An EU as it is now,.. Remain?
    ~ An ever closer EU Superstate which subordinates its members,… Remain?

    And if you vote Remain, how are you going be sure of achieving the version of Remain, you thought you were voting for?

  • Good comment. A reformed EU for me.

  • John Mitchell 21st Jun '16 - 4:58pm

    I live in Scotland and I will be voting leave. I’m not going to allow what might happen determine my vote such as nationalists agitating for a re-run. The referendum is on something in the European Union that the UK may not get to vote on again for some time. I do think that whatever the result that it must be respected. I don’t want to see an SNP or European Commission type of aversion to the result because it’s not what they wanted. That isn’t how democracy works. If remain or leave lose, they lose, and the country moves on to make the best out of the result of the majority.

    I also think that Scotland is more Eurosceptic than the polls are indicating. Not enough to carry a majority, but some SNP voters will deliberately vote to leave the EU in the hope of triggering another independence referendum which is deeply flawed. Therefore, leave may do better than expected in Scotland but with somewhat of an artificial inflation.

    The main reason I’m backing leave is the democratic argument. If I was voting to preseve a trading community on Thursday (minus TTIP) I’d vote to remain. Instead, it is a political union that is on the table with further integration being an inevitability.

    It’s a European Union that wants to humiliate Greece and isn’t satisfied with ignoring the democratic choice of the Greek people. I can’t with any confidence believe that this is something worth maintaining in its current form. The EU is the Soviet Union without the dictatorships and communism. It’s just got centralisation, lack of accountability, secrecy and capitalism under a version of rabid neoliberalism instead.

  • Matt (Bristol) 21st Jun '16 - 6:03pm

    J Dunn, You are right that there is no one version of Remain.

    What I can be confident in is that there is a clear, operable and pre-existing process to clarify and negotiate the meaning of Remain, through the processes of the EU and the heads of government meetings.

    I intend to promote my version of Remain by voting and lobyying for it, within that existing framework, if we do Remain.

    The process to establish what Leave looks like will necessarily have to be created after the vote.

    If we do vote to leave, those who care about democracy in this nation will have to lobby for a process to clarify the nature of ‘Leave’ that is open, and democratically accountable to all of us.

    I don’t want a ‘superstate’, I don’t believe we have a superstate, and I believe one of the biggest reasons for the perception of a superstate in Britain is that the pre-existing centralisation of the British state and its processes makes EU law and EU institutions appear further away from the ordinary citizen than if the UK were a nation with greater and more effective devolution and scrutiny of power — for eg in the UK government decision to aware the fishing quotas under its own control to large companies and not to the smaller fishermen.

  • Matt (Bristol) 21st Jun '16 - 6:10pm

    I also believe that the past – mainly Conservative – ministers who did not write-in to British law a referendum on every new treaty with the EU, as other EU nations have, did us a massive disfavour in that we were denied a democratic process of checking and regulating the process of change in the EU, and the symbolism of ‘in’ and ‘out’ grew and grew.

    We had the right to this, this is not something the EU denied us, it was something our government denied us.

    When our governments of the past have repeatedly failed to extract good representative democratic processes out of the EU, when it was there for the asking and being modelled by other EU nations, why would I want to lock myself in this island with said politicians, freed of moderating influence by other EU states?

  • Matt (Bristol) 21st Jun '16 - 6:12pm

    So for me, it is a reformed Britain in a reformed EU because the EU cannot bear sole blame for the mistakes Britain as a partner in Europe has made.

  • Joan Hand
    “A reformed EU for me.”
    I’m a Leave,… but if I were to vote Remain, like you, it would be for a reformed EU. But the EU has proved to be un-reformable, for at least two decades. So by what mechanism can Remainers,..push,… nudge,… or shove a group of people who have shown a two decade resistance to reform, when they also cannot even be… *voter dislodged*.?
    Where is the voter ~ ‘or else’ mechanism of controlling the EU political process.?
    Lobbying or appealing to their (EU), better natures does not look like a credible option, because if it were a credible option, would it not have reformed by now? So what if a Remain vote gives them more impetus for an ever closer Superstate, *not just for the Eurozone*, but eventually to financially bully and arm twist the UK and other peripheral countries to fall in line, into their Superstate program.?
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as I can see, there is no direct voter ‘off switch’, when it comes to EU process,.. so if you (and I), vote Remain with the caveat of EU reform,.. if they then go in the exact opposite direction of reform, …. what do we do then?

  • David Allen 21st Jun '16 - 6:58pm

    “There is no one version of Remain.”

    If we stay in the golf club, we can then decide whether to play a round every day, or once a month, or just pop down the clubhouse for the occasional drink. But if we chuck that limited-issue membership card in the bin, then we can’t possibly do any of those things, however much we might find we miss the game once we’ve stopped playing it.

    A narrow vote for Remain will not settle the issue for a generation. A narrow vote for Leave will settle it good and proper. When the pound crashes, when Scotland breaks away, when Irish border clashes begin anew, when President Trump tells us we are now under his thumb, when Putin plays off France against Britain in the Middle East, it will be too late to say that this wasn’t the version of Leave that the UK voted for.

  • If only politicians had treated those “C2DEs” a little better in the past, we would not be in this situation now. Many people are voting the way they are because they feel like it’s their only real opportunity to exercise some power. Those politicians who have made them feel this way are the ones to blame if it all goes horribly wrong on Thursday.

  • Stevan Rose 21st Jun '16 - 8:50pm

    “No “ifs” or “buts” if the remain side win we stay in, if they lose we are out. Anything else would lead to enormous civil unrest and rightly so.”

    Let’s suppose that Leave wins but the nature of the exit is unknown. The Gove faction take control of the Tory Party. Let’s then suppose that the markets react badly, the Germans and French defy Boris and don’t give us free trade on our terms, car makers start to withdraw investment and switch it to Slovakia, there’s no extra £350m a week (there never was) to spend on the NHS, Scotland votes to leave the UK, and the Tories start the process of dismantling workers rights. That wasn’t the scenario sold to Leave voters; what was sold was all the benefits with none of the costs, milk and honey with a whipped cream topping. Yes, there’s likely to be civil unrest in that situation, and a demand for another vote. On the other hand, we manage to negotiate a Norway deal and nothing changes bar no seat at the table and the sky doesn’t fall in. Also possible.

    What I want from Remain is what Matt refers to. A referendum for every new Treaty change, including a vote on any future expansion.

  • Stevan Rose 21st Jun '16 - 9:32pm

    “The timeline would also dictate that Scotland would now definitely be a new entrant to the EU and not a continuing member.”

    There is a single precedent for leaving the EU which is when a self governing part of Denmark exited. I see no reason why Scotland can’t remain and inherit the UK membership whilst other parts of the UK exit. Maybe Wales and NI will want to remain too and only England votes to Leave. Incidentally, I am exceptionally impressed with Ruth Davidson’s performance this evening, a true talent who I hope will step up to the national stage before long, and I never thought I’d say that of a Tory. She needs a new party that’s all.

  • Richard Underhill 21st Jun '16 - 9:33pm

    At the Wembley debate the Leave side are trying to brainwash the audience by simply repeating two slogans. Not good enough.

  • Richard Underhill 21st Jun '16 - 9:37pm

    Tim Farron spoke passionately.

  • Richard Underhill 21st Jun '16 - 9:42pm

    Priti Patel spoke about parliament, but she knows perfectly well that the majority are subject to the party whip, so you do not have the decisions of parliament, you have the decisions of the majority of MPs, elected First Past The Post.

  • Tonight’s big debate. Ruth Davidson excellent, the rest of the remain camp very average, Tim Farron poor. Whoever chose the line up wants a kick up the backside. The leave camp all fairly good, little in the way of weakness. Most people would have been watching the football, but the few who didn’t would more than likely though the leave side won. It’s going to be very close.

  • Stevan Rose.
    Interesting, but if all that happened the electorate would be unlikely to blame themselves and thus it would be bonfire of the vanities for the Brexit Tories. Plus the vote is liable to be close ether way. My guess is that if we exit it brings down a minority government and both camps will seek broad cross party co-operation rather than face sustained instability.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 22nd Jun '16 - 12:55am

    I would not have chosen the word tragedy, to describe these three near or potential disasters , but , rather agree with Paul , it is just this week we have seen such tragedy , everything else pales into almost insignificance !

  • Great article.

    “they will get their country back – minus Scotland” Yes, and I will not go up to Scotland again to campaign this time. Scotland has not been treated well since. Northern Ireland could be in constitutional crisis, and has already prompted discussion of a reunited Ireland referendum. If Wales votes to stay in, and we get dragged out by England, a number of us Welsh Lib Dems are already talking about having our own independence referendum. I might even have to move to Plaid Cymru! So let us hope we Remain, for many reasons!

  • I don’t know how to start a topic so forgive me for this one here.

    Has Boris done it for ‘leave’ with his ‘independence day’ comment last night? ( UK Independence Party).

  • Denis Loretto 22nd Jun '16 - 9:19am

    If you want to see the positive case for a remain vote put with vision and depth who better than Churchill’s grandson. Look at this, filmed in the historic library of the Reform Club.

  • Richard Underhill 22nd Jun '16 - 9:57am

    The turnout on Thursday will depend on regional variations in the weather which the pollsters have not considered. Even “certain to vote” needs to be divided between “already voted by post” and “have consistently voted over many years”, subject, of course, to uncertain factors such as personal health and family problems.

  • I’m supporting the Remain side as I think it’s the best choice for the Country, a bit like the Coalition. My silver lining for A Leave result on Friday morning is that UKIP will diminish over the “getting out” years and their activists will drift back to the Tories, pulling them to the right. We will then be left in the radical centre and should grow again as a party in England.

  • Peter Watson 22nd Jun '16 - 12:16pm

    @David Dobbie “My silver lining … we will then be left in the radical centre and should grow again as a party in England.”
    Looking at the coverage of last night’s debate, one thought occurs to me: does Ruth Davidson signify the end of the Lib Dems?
    As an individual she ticks more diversity boxes than a room full of senior Lib Dems and she seems to personify the sort of radical Tory liberalism that Lib Dems have tried to adopt in recent years. She has received a lot of good press, appearing to be popular and effective, and is touted as a future leader.

  • Nick Collins 22nd Jun '16 - 1:08pm

    I very much fear that there will be no winners; only losers. I hope that Professor Derek Pheby (does he visit this site?) will not object to my quoting from his letter in yesterday’s “Guardian”

    “There is clearly no national consensus, and the nation is divided right down the middle. Whichever side wins, half the nation will be dragged in a direction in which it does not want to go, yet no one appears to have given any thought to what needs to be done to reunite the nation. The situation is politically toxic, and, if not addressed seriously, will lead to dislocation not seen in this country since the Glorious Revolution of 1688.”

    For me there will be no silver lining if “Leave” wins. But even if it does not, I fear that the bitterness, anger and hate that have been stirred up by this ghastly (emits hollow laugh) “exercise in democracy” will continue to cause problems for a long time to come.

  • Nick Collins 22nd Jun ’16 – 1:08pm…………..I very much fear that there will be no winners; only losers. I hope that Professor Derek Pheby (does he visit this site?) will not object to my quoting from his letter in yesterday’s “Guardian”………“There is clearly no national consensus, and the nation is divided right down the middle. Whichever side wins, half the nation will be dragged in a direction in which it does not want to go, yet no one appears to have given any thought to what needs to be done to reunite the nation. The situation is politically toxic, and, if not addressed seriously, will lead to dislocation not seen in this country since the Glorious Revolution of 1688.”……….For me there will be no silver lining if “Leave” wins. But even if it does not, I fear that the bitterness, anger and hate that have been stirred up by this ghastly (emits hollow laugh) “exercise in democracy” will continue to cause problems for a long time to come…………………………………….

    I agree! Does anyone seriously believe that Farage ‘will go away’ if we vote to ‘Remain’? No Chance….
    Every ‘bump-in-the -road’ will be blamed on the EU…I seriously believe that politics and our social cohesion as a nation will NEVER recover from this….

  • Matt (Bristol) 22nd Jun '16 - 2:10pm

    What Expats said — whatever happens, I believe we are looking at the defining political crisis of our times, on a par with the Home Rule Crisis, the Corn Laws, etc, and the possibility of a longterm and unpredictable political realignment is huge, and the longterm consequences for global politics may be hard to contain and conceive of.

  • Jayne Mansfield 22nd Jun '16 - 2:20pm

    @ David Dobbie,
    I think that the notion of a ‘radical centre’ is a contradiction in terms.

    There will , I believe be a pull to the right and in order to counterbalance that I believe there needs to be a radical left. In my opinion, the centre is won by a fierce battle of ideas and not by taking a centre ground starting point.

    All those working class labour voters who are going to vote leave tomorrow, will I believe be feeling very let down when they find out the Mr Farage, is a man of the libertarian right as are so are many of those who are persuading them to vote leave.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 22nd Jun '16 - 2:45pm

    Agree with David on “the radical centre”, not with Jayne , there is a radical left view to be advanced on certain issues but as a radical left party this one is not it , Labour now or the Greens , not us !

    Centrism is not the radical centre.Radical ideas can and should emerge as much from the centre as anywhere , that is not centrism , it is Liberalism !

  • @malc – “Absolutely, whoever gets the most votes wins and I think most people will accept that.”

    I suspect that in the event of a leave vote and the markets negatively react (Leave has not presented any scenario where the markets would react positively to a leave result) many will have the wool removed from their eyes…

    As David Cameron is the PM, I see no benefit in him being in any rush to deliver on the leave result prior to 2020; plenty of time for the cold light of day to hit home…

  • Matt (Bristol) 22nd Jun '16 - 3:17pm

    Lorenzo, there is a coincidence of interests and concerns between the radical left and the the radical centre, as there is between the conventional left and the conventional centre (the coalition that gave rise to New Labour, indeed most Labour governments) and the radical centre and the conventional centre (the coalition that gave rise to the Clegg period of leadership in our party).

    This party has an inheritance from the radical left, the radical centre and the conventional left and centre.

    I would struggle to argue that the party ‘is’ a party ‘of’ the radical left, but to deny its inheritance from that direction is … unwise.

    Labour have very rarely done little more than exploit the radical left, whilst the current leadership are trying to rebuild the party upon that foundation. It is not clear at all if they can.

    The Greens are a party of the radical left and centre. We do not know whether they can genuinely break through nationally.

  • Sue Sutherland 22nd Jun '16 - 3:26pm

    It is truly ironic that the right wing Tories have managed to gain the backing of low wage earners as a result of the Leave campaign, even though their unenviable situation has largely been caused by the Tories and by New Labour who did precious little to help them. If the result is that Leave win it’s extremely unlikely their situation will improve and very likely that we shall see greater disparity between the rich and the poor. Life will become much more volatile as a result.
    If Remain win we will still have a very volatile situation unless the very real worries of the Leave supporters are properly addressed. I believe we must persuade the rest of the EU to look at the effects of the free movement of people. Jo Cox suggested that the tax migrants pay should be allocated to the places in which they live to enable local services (education, NHS etc) to improve. May be the EU should provide funds to improve local services in these areas?
    As others have suggested here we must also put any new EU treaties to the vote.
    We also need the EU to address the problems of structural change in economies. During this campaign it has become clear that many people who have lost jobs in declining industries blame the EU for this. As technology improves there will be more of these structural changes. We must have national and EU policies and action to cushion the blows that fall unfairly on workers in certain jobs, particularly if the area in which they live is relying heavily on those jobs for its economic activity.
    What I am trying to say is that we cannot just accept the status quo if the country votes to Remain. We are known for our support of the EU and Tim showed that passion last night at Wembley and took the crowd with him, so please could we lead in campaigning for reforms which would help those most severely affected by our membership.

  • Bill le Breton 22nd Jun '16 - 4:16pm

    Just a quick question?

    Who won the Scottish referendum? Who really won it?

    In the April before that referendum I asked a good friend of mine and very experienced campaigner north of the Boarder what she thought would happen to the SNP if they lost the referendum say 40 – 60. “Oh, that’s their high water mark. Support for them will subside when they lose.” I kept my peace but thought she’d really miscalculated what was going on.

    So, what will happen after Friday – whoever notionally wins – is not easily discernible.

    The one model we do have – that of politics in Scotland since 2014 suggests that the most influential person in the UK in 6 months time will be Johnson probably followed by Leadsom.

    140 Tory MPs have come out for Leave. The proportion of the Tory membership will be much higher. Much of the media, the best at campaigning, will be behind him and her. As Tory Leader PM) and Deputy (DPM) towards the end of this Parliament they would ‘reunite’ the Tory and UKIP parties, take away (as Sue Sutherland warns) the working and underemployed and even the unemployed from Labour (cd that be 50%+ of their vote?) + 30% of what remains the Liberal Democrat vote – issuing in a Parliamentary majority for a Johnson led Tory Party in 2020 similar to that of the Liberal 1906 landslide; a majority with which he’ll go barging through the councils of the EU via the streets of EU member states; coalescing a movement for change.

    Sound familiar? Just a hypothetical, you understand. But in may ways similar to the effects the SNP has had in the UK politics over the last two years.

    Pandora’s Box.

  • David Evans 22nd Jun '16 - 4:40pm

    Bill le B – What we have to come to terms with is that our leadership naively allowed Cameron to open Pandora’s box by giving him 5 years to bed himself in power without any risk of defeat, while simultaneously allowing our party to be so undermined that it couldn’t prevent him from winning a majority in 2015. This is the reason we are now facing this maelstrom. As they say “the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” or as too few of us seemed to realise over those years “Being a Liberal/Lib Dem is never anything but enormously hard work.”

  • Nick Collins 22nd Jun '16 - 5:05pm

    @ David Evans. What you have to come to terms with is not that your leadership “naively allowed Cameron … ” etc. But that your Party allowed them to do so. The Birmingham Conference in May 2010, by an overwhelming majority endorsed the suicide note known as the “coalition agreement”.

  • David Evans 22nd Jun '16 - 6:22pm

    Sorry Nick, but what went wrong was what was allowed happen in coalition, not the agreement itself. It is massively oversimplistic to pretend it all happened in a single moment.

  • I don’t know about others but my ‘moment’ was the microphone picking up, Nick Clegg’s “If we keep doing this we won’t find anything to bloody disagree on in the bloody TV debate.”…

    I thought, “Hang on, this should be a marriage of convenience, not a love match”…Sadly, my first impression was all too true…

  • David Allen 22nd Jun '16 - 6:53pm

    Let’s not rerun the coalition debate yet again and lose sight of what Sue Sutherland and Bill le Breton said – that the narrow losers in a referendum can and should fight on.

    If Remain lose, let’s see us fight for the EEA (Norway) option. In the longer term, that may even be just where we would have ended up anyway – Outside a United States of Europe with its common currency backed by a common treasury, but inside a single market together with the present EU’s Eastern and Mediterranean countries.

    If Leave lose, then somebody has the same opportunity that the SNP have grasped in Scotland – to win huge popularity by upholding a “dream that will never die”. Let’s not gift that dream to Farage. Let’s spearhead a campaign which says – Thank heavens we stayed in, but now we must lead a campaign for EU reform.

    About free movement, yes, but not only free movement. Also about bureaucratic sclerosis. Also about EU democracy. Above all, also about abolishing the euro in its present form, for the sake of Europe’s shared economic future.

  • We shouldn’t still be banging on a bout coalition. Personally, I always thought it was a huge mistake. But the bigger mistake was letting it drag on even when it became ever more obvious that it was destroying the Lib Dem vote. There were multiple chances to pull the plug and everyone of them was missed. Really, there could have still have been a chance of revival even as late as lord Oakeshott attempt to remove Nick Clegg, but alas it’s all spilt milk and what happened is what happened.
    Ironically I think a leave victory would revive the Lib Dems more than a remain vote, which in the short term will only save Cameron.

  • Denis Loretto 23rd Jun '16 - 8:13am

    PLEASE let us somehow never have a referendum again – ever!

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Jun '16 - 9:44am

    Denis Loretto 23rd Jun ’16 – 8:13am Sir Winston Churchill was of the same opinion.
    He quoted the names of the leaders of his military opponents.

  • Nick Collins 23rd Jun '16 - 10:54am

    @ Denis Loretto Amen to that.

  • Well, CB, I’ve cast my vote, so that’s it…

    I can’t forecast the result BUT I forecast that, within moments of the result, the Tory party will all ‘kiss and make up’ …Whatever goes on behind the scenes the ‘public face’ will be all lovey-dovey…Many of the nastiest remarks on both sides have been prefaced by, “While I like xxxx personally”…You can bet, post referendum, that great store will be set by referring to those 5 words…

    Farage will continue to milk a system he doesn’t believe in, although if the vote is ‘IN’, what possible reason will he have for continuing?

    The damage to social cohesion and politics as whole will take far longer to heal…but for those at the trough it will be ‘business as usual’…

  • Peter Watson 23rd Jun '16 - 1:09pm

    @expats “Farage will continue to milk a system he doesn’t believe in, although if the vote is ‘IN’, what possible reason will he have for continuing?”
    One of the arguments put forward for Bremain is that we reserve the right to Brexit in the future. As long as that is a possibility, I’m sure that Farage will be happy to demonstrate the pointlessness of a system that allows him to milk it.

  • Peter Watson 23rd Jun '16 - 1:12pm

    @Denis Loretto “PLEASE let us somehow never have a referendum again – ever!”
    Or … let’s have loads of them!! 😉

  • I just hope people accept the result either way, unfortunately I doubt they will. The SNP lost their referendum and went from strength to strength and this looks like being closer. I get the feeling this is far from over.

  • What I would like to know is how many Leave voters are genuinely committed to the ideology of the neo-Hegelian right, and how many are simply registering a protest vote.

    From my few observations, I would suspect that the latter group greatly outnumbers the former, and I would anticipate that a lot of them will see the rain outside and watch telly rather than vote. Let’s hope so.

    Do I think the country is consumed by insanity? Probably not quite, though that is the impression one gets. The prescient words of the late Roy Jenkins do ring very loudly. You may recall him saying that holding referenda was a very dangerous innovation in British politics, a splendid tool for demagogues and dictators. Indeed.

    By the way. If Lembit Opik allowed himself to be photographed kissing a dead fish, he would be showered with ridicule. If Johnson does it, his popularity soars. The point has to come when even Johnson runs out of luck.

  • Senseco.
    Yes, everyone who votes out is a couch potato and everyone who votes in is an intellectual titan.
    Look, most of the time the only people who can be bothered to vote for MEPs want out. Virtually, the only thing keeping the vote even remotely close to 50/50 is justified fear of economic repercussions. Not many people really give two hoots about the EU as an institution or can name more than one of it’s leaders or cares about what it does. It doesn’t really capture many people’s imagination and isn’t actually very popular. The protest component of the leave vote is probably less prevalent than the small c conservative safety first component of remain. If this was just about the desirability of the EU it would be a Brexit landslide

  • I don’t know why Glenn thinks Remain would have bolstered the Tory government. A narrow Remain vote would have led to continued war in the Tory Party. The narrow Leave result allows all but at best a tiny handful of pro-European Tories to buckle down to supporting a moderate Leave leader like Johnson or possibly a discreet Cameron supporter like May or Hammond. Besides, the likely Scottish exit will strengthen the position of the Tories in the remaining UK enormously. then there’s the implications for Ireland, which are enormous, especially for the North. The Good Friday Agreement could even unravel.

    As for this thing about unelected governments in Italy and Spain, the EU did not put them in place. The previous elected governments collapsed, not an unknown event in either country, and short-term technocrat-led governments took over, leading to new elections. These governments could not have survived without the assent of the elected representatives of the peoples concerned. Conversely, the EU has helped discourage any recurrence of European dictatorships (I can remember when Spain, Portugal and Greece had repressive dictatorships) and support the development of democracy in Eastern Europe. Right now the EU is firing shots across the bow of a Polish government set on invading civil liberties, wrecking the constitutional court, threatening civil servants who worked for the previous government and gerrymandering to try to stay in power.

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