It’s easy for the NO campaign to reframe the debate in which Cameron’s referendum will be fought. The strategic advantages of doing this will vastly increase the chances of winning a handsome victory for those campaigning to leave the EU.
Firstly, the NO campaign must insist that Cameron plainly states what action his government will take in the event of a NO majority. This applied pressure on Cameron must leave him in no doubt that a response similar to the one he gave on the Lisbon Treaty ratification debacle – kicking the issue into the long grass with ‘we will not let matters rest there’ – is unacceptable in this referendum. The electorate must be fully informed of the consequences of voting either way as their condition for participating in the event – rather than boycotting it.
The only legal avenue Cameron can take in the event of a NO majority is to invoke Article 50 and begin negotiations towards a new agreement between Britain and the EU for a post-exit relationship. However, that agreement, once finalised, cannot come into force (to replace EU membership) unless its content is consented to by the British public at a further referendum.
So, a NO vote in the EU referendum 2017 translates as a ‘yes’ for the safe delivery of a fully-fledged agreement (endorsed by both Britain and the EU)… which the public (and the business community) can then thoroughly evaluate before returning to the ballot box… to either vote the agreement into immediate force, or vote to reject it and retain EU membership.
Cameron’s referendum can be used by the NO campaign as the first step in the risk-free and voter-friendly route out of the EU proposed by the Exeunt procedure. The only obstacle to this strategy is not Cameron’s reluctance to answer what a NO vote means… but a NO campaign so distracted by useless and irrelevant ‘exit-plans’ that it fails to even ask him.