The Stay marketing campaign should outlive the referendum


“I DON’T need to stab the prime minister within the again—I need to stab him within the entrance so I can see the expression on his face. You’d must twist the knife, although, as a result of we wish it again for [George] Osborne.” This quote, attributed to a Conservative MP by the Sunday Instances yesterday, signifies the headache that awaits the prime minister past June twenty third. Because the referendum nears, the possibilities of a Tory management disaster afterwards, even within the occasion of a Stay vote, appear to be rising. Andrew Bridgen and Nadine Dorries, two perennial rebels, have insisted that he’ll face a problem. Or as their nameless colleague places it: “All we’ve to do is catch the prime minister with a stay boy or a lifeless woman and we’re away.”

What’s Mr Cameron to do? It appears that evidently within the occasion of a Stay vote on June twenty third, Downing Avenue will delay its much-heralded “reconciliation reshuffle” till after the summer season, to forestall MPs and ministers from pocketing their preferments and instantly opening hearth on the prime minister. Within the intervening interval it will likely be tempting for him, having spent the previous weeks alienating many in his occasion by telling them truths about Brexit that they don’t need to hear, to swing again in a drastically Eurosceptic path and shore up his place. He may decide some fights on the European Council summit on June twenty eighth, for instance.

Tempting, however ill-advised. Nevertheless decisive any Stay win (the Brexiteers are claiming 60% is the minimal the prime minister should obtain to keep away from revolt) it’s unlikely that the Europe query will vanish. The Depart marketing campaign will do every little thing it could possibly to say the general public was misled and can demand a brand new referendum. Each future European summit will ignite the Conservative Social gathering’s nervous system. It might nicely elect a pro-Brexit chief as Mr Cameron’s successor. Pandering to such sentiments will solely strengthen them, and persuade their propagators that they have been proper all alongside.

But if he wins—regardless of the margin; ignore Brexiteer nonsense about 59% for Stay by some means not counting—Mr Cameron can have a pro-European mandate. Stronger In, the official anti-Brexit outfit, has campaigned on the premise that Britain shouldn’t simply keep within the EU however work to make it higher. The prime minister can have the duty to make good on that pledge. Furthermore, he can have the chance. Britain’s voice in Brussels has been weakened by the build-up to the referendum. However the means of renegotiation strengthened Mr Cameron’s private relationship along with his fellow leaders. And a Stay victory (particularly at a time when the EU is struggling in different respects) will show to his companions Mr Cameron can persuade and ship. Nevertheless fleetingly, he shall be a winner.

So to take advantage of this chance, make good on his marketing campaign guarantees and assist quell speak of a second referendum, the prime minister should, on any Stay win, launch a British initiative to make Europe extra dynamic. Brexiteers speak of June twenty fourth as “independence day”. In the event that they lose, Mr Cameron should make it “interdependence day”: utilizing the momentum the consequence generates to advertise essential reforms that may make Europe work higher for Britain and its neighbours: finishing the one market in companies, reducing purple tape and advancing the TTIP negotiations.

This may begin with Mr Cameron taking a while from calming his backbenchers in Westminster to tour Europe’s capitals to construct a brand new alliance for reform with Britain at its hub—constructing on his earlier “renegotiation” attraction offensive, however this time extra collaborative and long-termist. Within the likes of Matteo Renzi, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, in addition to Britain’s conventional allies within the Nordic and Baltic areas, Mr Cameron has pure allies. On the similar time he might launch initiatives to spice up Britain’s structural affect in Brussels. Extra British graduates and high civil servants may very well be inspired and supported to use for jobs within the establishments. To boost the usual of Britain’s MEPs, Mr Cameron might set up an “A-list” of proficient Conservatives forward of picks for the European Parliament election in 2019 (and encourage Labour to do the identical). Downing Avenue might get a correct European division to enhance the standard and amount of EU recommendation out there to the prime minister.

Nonetheless, the prime minister can’t be anticipated to do that alone. It’s going to take a preferred initiative to help him when he does the proper factor and chide him when he offers in to the Eurosceptics. Thankfully, such a physique—cross-party, decentralised and united by its dedication to an efficient, energetic British function in Europe—will exist already on June twenty fourth: the Stay marketing campaign. From its management to its native teams, in Britain and overseas, this can be a ready-made, non-partisan community, backed by donors massive and small, able to insisting forcefully on higher British engagement and assertiveness on the continent. It will likely be too straightforward for a Stay win to be hole: for noisy Eurosceptic campaigners efficiently to spin it as a betrayal, for the pro-European alliances constructed up over the previous months to disintegrate and for the mandate to “keep in and make it higher” to go forgotten.

And what if Depart wins? In that case, all of the extra motive for its opponents to stay collectively. What Britain would or ought to appear like exterior the EU is unclear. The vary of trade-offs that Britons should navigate is conveyed by the variety of completely different “fashions” the Brexiteers have cited: Norway, Switzerland, Canada, Albania… Will freedom of motion proceed? What standing will EU residents in Britain have? What kind of buying and selling relationship will Britain have with its neighbours, and at what regulatory price? The variations between between the completely different attainable visions of a post-Brexit nation are big and can want debating. That calls for intense political effort from these dedicated to preserving Britain as related and engaged in Europe as attainable, one which the prevailing Stronger In marketing campaign will, even in defeat, be completely positioned to orchestrate. With luck, it won’t come to that. However regardless of the consequence on June twenty third, Stay should battle on.