During the AV campaign, the No side had a whole wing of comms dedicated to doing down the idea of having the referendum in the first place. A “why are we having a vote on an electoral system that no one knows anything about when there are children dying in the streets?” sort of a thing. Looking back on it, this may have been the most effective plank of that particular campaign. They were greatly aided by the press in this, who basically echoed their line from the beginning; still, it worked.
I was reminded of it this morning when I was greeted with a lurid story pushed out by the Leave campaign. It was naming EU citizens born outside of the UK who have committed heinous crimes in this country, and then describing some of the acts themselves. I guess this is what Dominic Cummings was talking about when he said it was going to get really nasty.
While the Stronger In campaign can’t play the “why are we having this stupid referendum on something no one cares about?” routine with this particular plebiscite (the Europe thing has just enough salience with just enough people for this not to be possible), it can do a variant of it. It would go something like this: vote to leave the EU if you want two more years at minimum of arcane minutiae about the European Union shoved down your throat every day. If we vote to Stay In on June 23rd, that will pretty much be the end of it, and we can all get on with our lives. Even most Eurosceptics will shut up about it (for a little while at least). Sure, you’ll have Nigel Farage probably ranting about how the vote was fixed by the International Banking Conspiracy (TM) and all of that, but he’ll go back to being a voice in the wilderness.
However, if we vote to Leave, strap yourselves in for a never ending stream of excessively uninteresting crap about the EU, as parliament gets bogged down in renegotiation. Thought Cameron’s Brussels adventure to get us “a better deal” was boring? Imagine when it’s all for real and goes on forever. And ever. And ever.
Cameron leaves and we get Boris as prime minister (this should be enough for anyone to vote to Stay In on its own, but I digress). The news will be filled every week with Boris trying and failing to get some new treaty to its next stage, while his backbenchers get increasingly impatient that all the “BoJo as PM” project seems to consist of in its entirety is failing to get new trade deals passed followed by the House having to discuss them over and over again, all while everything else falls to bits.
The only thing I like about this scenario is that it means Boris will have to realise he signed up to the EU Leave campaign in order to become prime minister, only for his premiership to consist of nothing more than endless dreck concerning the EU – as if his political life had been frozen in aspic from the moment of the doorstep press conference. But I’m mean that way. Charitable folk of the United Kingdom, please save both Boris and the rest of us from this horrible fate by voting to Stay in.