Muddying the Waters – a Messy Collaboration

If Cameron’s recent press statement (issued by a senior aide) tells us anything, it is that the Prime Minister is determined to keep risk and uncertainty as the central axis of the “remain” campaign in the run-up to the first EU referendum. Let’s take a look at Cameron’s statement on a second referendum:

“The Prime Minister is clear that is simply not going to happen. From the outset, he has been clear this will be a straightforward in/out choice and that’s exactly what it will be. Leave means leave,”

Leave does of course mean leave. But there is a legal procedure for leaving set out by the EU in Article 50 of its Lisbon Treaty and by Cameron himself in his ‘referendum lock’ law.

“It is not credible to suggest that the majority of the British public could vote to leave and then the UK government would ignore the voters and negotiate to remain.”

It isn’t at all credible to suggest this. But, in his statement, Cameron is not telling the British people what is the credible government response in the event of a majority vote to leave.

“Trying to muddy the waters as they are and suggest that we can have a second chance if we vote leave suggests that the Leave campaign lacks confidence in its own case and is worried about the risks. Otherwise it would unambiguously advocate a clean exit”

This is the ‘money’ quote. It’s worth wondering who exactly is trying to “muddy the waters” here? Cameron is dishonestly isolating the first vote as a finality in order to establish a perception of ‘risk’, ‘worry’ and a ‘lack of confidence’ in the electorate’s minds when considering how to cast it. Were the Prime Minister to set out the government’s procedure following a win for the ‘leave’ vote – which includes a mandatory second referendum – risk and worry would no longer be available for him to exploit. Instead, voters would know they could use the ballot box without worry and confidently cast a vote to leave – knowing their risk-free vote is only the referendum key to formulating a new concluded relationship… a formal agreement which voters can then examine prior to returning to the ballot box to either lock it into force or lock Britain’s future into continuing as a member State of the EU.

It’s a pity many in the ‘leave’ camp are collaborating with Cameron in muddying the waters with risk and uncertainty, when, instead, they could be clarifying for voters the safe and straightforward choice they have before them in activating a negotiation process which will wholly determine every aspect of a possible future relationship between Britain and the EU – and, by informing the electorate of this fact, massively increase the likelihood of winning a majority vote to leave.

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