Regardless of your preference for Remain or Leave, the time has come to look at what the respective campaigns – and, more importantly, their powerful political backers – will do after the result.
While both campaigns have support from a fairly wide range of the political spectrum, it cannot be ignored that the left is largely Remain and the right largely Leave. In fact, the situation is perhaps more extreme than this, with Leave being backed by far right groups such as the BNP and the EDL.
But more dangerous than either of these groups is the identity of those closest to the political power centre on the side of Leave, the likes of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith, and Nigel Farage.
If you vote Leave, you must be all right with the gains it will give to far right, nationalist, xenophobic groups
If the UK does vote to Leave, there will be negotiations between the government and the EU over the terms of this. Negotiations which would involve going over 100+ trade agreements, laws on workers’ right, environmental legislation, free movement plans, and a whole lot more. Negotiations and transitions which would take at least two years.
Such negotiations would surely have to be led, or at least strongly influenced, by someone other than the current Prime Minister, who is firmly behind the Remain campaign. As much as I despise David Cameron, I fear the evils of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove more than I do those of Cameron.
Indeed, Johnson especially, with his self-interested, power-hungry leadership ambitions, would have an awful lot to gain politically by pandering to those on the right both within and outside of his party.
While the Leave campaign may be flattering voters with promises of increased NHS spending and VAT breaks, the voting records of its backers and the continuation of the unnecessary and ideological austerity narrative by the Tories suggests these claims are slanderous.
Undoubtedly, negotiations would involve breaking from EU legislation on workers’ rights, environmental policies, wildlife protection and more, before we even begin to get into trade and migration. And it would all happen under the guise of reclaiming our national sovereignty and fighting the bureaucracy of the EU.
There is yet to be a coherent claim for what should, could, and can change after a Remain vote
Moreover, two years of negotiations would leave the likes of Johnson and Farage firmly in the political spotlight: perfect timing for them to begin their election campaigns with renewed public and media interest.
If you vote Leave, you must accept the fact that such a result will be a huge boost to the political right, no matter your reasons for voting so. You must be all right with the gains it will give to far right, nationalist, xenophobic groups. You must consider the ramifications it will have for a Conservative party currently at war with itself, and the MPs lining up to be its next leader.
For its part, Remain has thus far failed to pin its colours to the mast in terms of post-vote aims. For all the talk of reforming the EU and repeated assertions that nobody thinks it’s perfect, there is yet to be a coherent claim for what should, could, and can change after a Remain vote.
Perhaps the answer is not much. Perhaps Cameron would be happy with his pre-vote reforms. Perhaps the left would have some voice in the matter. Perhaps any possible negotiations would be stopped by the influx of five million terrorists from the new member states that sneaked in when we weren’t paying attention. Perhaps Johnson, Farage and co would be very upset (the poor people, they’d have all my sympathy), and perhaps the xenophobes on the right would take a hit. Perhaps, even, we’d see them making a grovelling apology to the SNP, asking them to team up for a Double-Referendum Super Slam Thursday in another couple of years.
But one thing is for sure. I’d much rather have the possibility of all this than the certainty that a Leave vote would bring to the far right in apparent justification of their xenophobia, their nationalism, and their bigotry.
And if you haven’t done so already, then don’t forget to register to vote! It only takes a couple of minutes. Students, make sure you’re registered in the right place for where you’re going to be on 23rd June!