June QOTM: Victory of the Yes Vote in the EU Referendum

By YEM St Andrews

What will happen following the victory of the Yes vote in the EU referendum?

A probable (although altogether uncertain) victory for the “Yes” campaign in the European referendum would hardly alter the political topography of the British establishment: there will still be ardently Eurosceptic Conservatives and UKIP’s fate will be unchanged either way by the result. However, the centre of political thinking regarding European policy will shift to one more favourable towards Europe, even if on the right that is merely a shift towards resigned neutrality. There will be no political viability in advocating another referendum for the next generation unless cataclysmic changes in the structure of the EU and Britain’s membership therein are forthcoming.

As an afterthought, something of a collateral effect, David Cameron will be handed undeserved political latitude from a Yes vote. He will be able to claim that his negotiations were a success, even if hitherto they have been both arrogant and vague and the same time, and place himself back in the centre-ground of UK politics after frequent drifts towards the right. He may even be able to claim to have done what so many other Conservative leaders have been unable to do before him: pacify (although not eradicate) his Eurosceptic backbenchers for the immediate future. Voters will be satisfied with Cameron, whether those in Brussels or on the left think him worthy of such satisfaction or not.