At some point relatively soon, we will probably know the date the referendum that will determine whether or not the United Kingdom remains a member of the European Union. It will probably be June – it will probably be June 23rd. If that’s the case, will we see some sort of “EU debate” on TV, somewhat like the leaders debates in 2010 (as opposed to the horror show weirdness of the 2015 attempt to adjust to the supposed end of the age of two-party politics)?
If so, on current form, the two most likely opponents would be David Cameron for Remain, Nigel Farage for Leave. The Leavers would hate that, but if this were ever to happen it would likely be because Nigel called Cameron out, and if that happened the prime minister would be a fool not to take the challenge. Farage is also more box office than Chris Grayling, which is an obvious but key thing to point out at this stage.
So let’s game plan this scenario. Cameron would talk about how we depend on the single market for millions of British jobs; how his recent renegotiation shows how much weight Britain can have in the EU when it sets its mind to it; that being outside of the EU wouldn’t solve the migration crisis, or indeed shield the UK from it in any way. On the other side, Farage would talk about immigration in unappealing tones; probably make some lurid remark about the Cologne attacks; and finally, get stuck. How he would get stuck could look a bit like what happened to Ed Miliband on the Question Time special the week leading up to the general election when he was asked about whether or not Labour crashed the economy.
It could go something like this:
MAN IN TV AUDIENCE (who will have a suitably regional, working class accent just to make this all worse for Nigel): I have never cared for Britain being in the European Union and do feel like it is unaccountable and undemocratic, and furthermore that Britain being in the EU erodes our national soveriegnty. However, Nigel, as it stands I am going to be voting for Britain to Remain in the EU on June 23rd because you and your lot have not been able to communicate to me what leaving the EU looks like – what would happen to the country and its trade – and I was wondering, Nigel if you’d like to tell me your vision of Brexit?
FARAGE: Of course, of course. To start with I’m glad that you agree with me that the EU is unaccountable and undemocratic. So let me tell you why we need to leave: £350 million pounds a week goes into the coffers in Brussels, we have no control of our borders….
MAN: Let me stop you there, Nigel. Like I said, I agree with all of that. But you need to answer my question. What actually happens if we vote “Leave”?
FARAGE: We get our borders back. We stop giving away money to the EU.
MAN: Yes, Nigel, again, I just want you to tell me what actually happens? Like, I want to retire to Spain – will I still be able to do that? When I go to France to buy wine, will there be tariffs charged? I just want you to paint a picture for me of what it would be like. Surely you can do that, Nigel?
FARAGE: Like I say, no more wasted money, control of our borders…
MAN: You don’t know what would happen if we left do you? No idea at all.
FARAGE: All right, yes, I’m not exactly sure what would happen if we left the EU….(pause for boos from the audience)……but I do know we need to take this historic chance to regain our national sovereignty!
If Cameron and Farage go head to head on Europe, Cameron will win. So as pro-Europeans, perhaps we should probably be trying as hard as possible to make this happen. Anyone want to write to Nigel Farage and egg him on?