The outcome of tomorrow’s referendum in the UK seems hardly predictable – but given that every possible outcome, ranging from a clear vote in favour of leaving the EU to a clear outcome in favour of remaining, someone surely will have got it right. If the issue were merely one of economic reasonability, the victory of the ‘Remain’ side could not stand in doubt. But decisions such as this one are usually made on emotional rather than other grounds – and it is a fact that the EU is widely and irredeemably unpopular – in the UK and elsewhere.
There may be many among our readers who consider the EU an evil empire of unelected bureaucrats who interpret the absence of democratic control over their activities as a mandate for spreading their misguided “values” over Europe and beyond – and who therefore have a (not so) clandestine sympathy for the Brexit campaign. They may have felt confirmed in their view by reading that the gay lobby in the UK has the same opinion: the EU provides them with the perfect instrumentarium to promote their agenda. But the truth is that social issues like the EU’s surreptitious undermining and re-definitio of human rights and fundamental freedoms play only a marginal role in the ongoing debate.
Those hoping for a swift Brexit are in any case likely to be disappointed. This is not only because, contrary to many opinion polls, bookies consider a vote to remain in the EU far more likely – and it is usually the bookis rather than the pollsters who get it right. But what is far more important is that this so-called referendum is not legally binding at all. It is not part of any legislative process in which, for example, a bill already adopted by Parliament would require the sanction of a popular vote before being promulgated. In the UK, the control over political life lies with Parliament, and if Parliament does not want the Brexit, then the Brexit is not going to take place. And even in the aftermath of a successful Brexit referendum, many are the MPs who may prefer to give the issue a second thought.