There are many arguments concerning why the UK should remain a member of the European Union that I have been waiting for David Cameron to use for months now. But he finally used one in particular yesterday for the first time. It’s a simple one: if we voted to leave in the referendum, it wouldn’t be us out of the whole thing and clear the next day. What would begin instead at that point is a two-year period of renegotiation with the EU on what Brexit actually would mean in practice.
It spells out just how much voting to leave is neither simple nor straightforward. Imagine two years of parliamentary backlog while the House of Commons is completely taken up with working out which bits of law inherited from the EU stays and which bits go; having to talk through what the new deals would look like; having to figure out a way past the whole, “single market = freedom of movement” conundrum some way or another.
When I myself have used the two year argument in business circles, it has proven remarkably effective. Are you dreading the prospect of the next four months being taken up with nothing but the European Union? Well if we vote to leave, the next two years and four months will be like that – at the very least.
There are lots of reasons why Britain staying in the EU is a good idea. But using one that is easy to understand and works extremely well on the English mentality in particular (“Two further years of bother? Sod that.”) is a very good ploy. I’m glad someone advised the prime minister to start using it. While I’m here, he also needs to start pointing out that the Norway option includes freedom of movement in it given the Brexiteers always leave that very crucial detail out, but hey, he’s only just started so hopefully he’ll pick up that one as well.