Dave has a problem with the thorny referendum issue, and his highly paid advisers seem unable to help him. However, acting in the spirit of Christian charity, I’m ready to offer a solution free of charge.
Here’s Dave’s stumbling block in a nutshell: ‘The problem with an in/out referendum is it only gives people those two choices – you can either stay in or you can get.’ Who says our politicians are incapable of making astute observations? Dave’s spot on in this one.
Once a problem has been clearly stated, the solution offers itself. Two choices not enough? Let’s have some more then, nothing could be easier. For example, here’s my starter for 10, or rather 10 for a start:
1) In 2) Out, 3) Both in and out, 4) Neither in nor out, 5) More in than out, 6) More out than in, 7) Sometimes in, sometimes out, 8) Out, as long as everyone thinks we’re in, 9) In, as long as everyone thinks we’re out, 10) All or none of the above, as long as Dave remains Prime Minister
Given such a multiple/generous choice, the British can’t fail to give their resounding yes/no/maybe answer. Moreover, promising a referendum along those lines is a guaranteed vote getter. On the one hand, Dave would have kept his ironclad promise of holding/not holding a referendum on Europe. On the other hand, not only will the British have much flexibility in choosing the option they like best/dislike least, but Dave will have even more flexibility to tabulate and/or interpret the results in ways that are most beneficial for Britain/Dave. That’s one problem solved.
The other one doesn’t really qualify as a problem, it’s so easy: the timing. If the above questionnaire, my beloved brainchild, is accepted, Dave can safely and immediately promise to hold a referendum. No problem there. The promise can be worded in this familiar, reassuringly populist and therefore comforting way: ‘Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye…’
As to the timing of it, the issue shouldn’t even come up. Of course it should be 2015, but, contrary to the current ill-considered plan, the referendum should be held not before the election but instead of it – a staggeringly clever idea implicit in Option 10 above. A vote for any option from 1 to 10 will be automatically construed as a vote of confidence for Dave personally and whichever party he chooses to attach himself to at the time. Whatever his party, he’s clearly the right man for the job – as he himself defines it:
‘My job is to make sure we secure all the safeguards that we need so that our role in the EU, our access to the single market, our say in the single market is comprehensively safeguarded.’
Of course this definition seems to imply that, without Dave, Britain wouldn’t have access to the single market or, by inference, to any other. Britain would thus find herself in the desperate position of China, the USA, Japan, Korea, Brazil and all those other ostracised countries desperately seeking entrance to the European market, only to be turned away at the door. About time they learned that in order to trade with the EU they have to be its fully paid-up member. Otherwise, no dice.
The Treaty of Rome wasn’t built in a day. Dave knows that the task of subjugating Britain to the Fourth Reich and thereby ensuring that the EU will continue to agree to take our money will take some time: ‘But this is going to be something that is going to evolve over a whole series of years as the countries realise what has to be done and as we fight for the safeguards and the position that we need.’ Spiffily put, as befits an old Etonian.
How long is a piece of string? How long is a series of years? Trust you to ask such questions. Don’t you listen? The series is exactly 2.5 years long, taking us to the next election. Then Dave will form a majority government, call it Britische Gau and tell the LibDems to go suck un oeuf. Job done.
If you think I’m belittling a grave problem with my levity, I’m sorry. But levity/suicide are the only possible reactions to the drivel coming out of our PM’s mouth. He clearly thinks we take him seriously, which must mean he knows something we don’t: that we are all stupid/deaf/mute/indifferent/children [choose one or any combination thereof]. Surely he can’t possibly believe that grown-ups in full command of their faculties can fall for his porkies?
The British should have neither to ‘cede more powers to Brussels’ nor to have ‘powers… going in the other direction’, which is how Dave sees our most cherished aspirations. I’ve got news for him: We, and therefore our country, have sovereign powers we’ve consented to vest into our Queen, her ministers and Parliament. Brussels, Peking, Moscow, Washington or any other foreign city isn’t entitled to any of such powers: they are all ours. To hear the first minister of Her Majesty’s government run off at the mouth in this nonsensical fashion ought to make every British subject cry havoc and let slip…
Alas, we have no dogs to let slip, never mind the dogs of war. Nor do we have a voice. Nor, before long, will we have a country to call our own. To prevent this, there’s only one justified option in relation to the EU: out/out. The same goes for Dave.