There is a positive case for Britain’s EU membership, based on the ideal of a continental destiny and a common civilisation. Some on the Remain side made it during the 1975 referendum; no-one in that camp seems to be making it now. The Remain case is boiling down to Project Fear.
Stuart Rose is a liability for Remain.
The focus of reporting about the referendum is on the Conservative Party, but the voters who may matter most are Labour ones – since they are more pro-Remain than their Tory equivalents. It is almost impossible for Leave to win in June without shifting masses of them from Remain to Leave.
The Prime Minister’s pro-Remain Cameron Direct-type events show a politician at the top of his game.
David Cameron will move heaven and earth not to publish the number of active national insurance numbers given to EU workers. The official figures how that 257,000 migrants came to the UK from the EU last year. But at the same time 630,000 EU citizens registered for a new national insurance number.
Jeremy Corbyn’s heart isn’t in Remain.
The pattern of the campaigning to date is that Remain acts and Leave reacts. Whether the material is Government dossiers or the subject is national security (or air fares, or foreign footballers, or petrol prices), Remain is getting its claims in first, even if they unravel later.
The submarine politician that is George Osborne has recently spent a lot of time under water.
David Cameron faces a trade-off between pushing Project Fear, which alienates pro-Leave Tory MPs, and stepping back from it, in the interests of party unity. The evidence of the last fortnight suggests that he has decided to take the former option. This will leave him exposed in the event of a narrow Remain victory.
Leave is arguably winning in the press; Remain seems to be dominating TV.
The online polls tend to show a neck-and-neck contest. The telephone polls tend to show Remain well ahead. The latter were closer to the mark during last May’s election campaign. If the same pattern holds in June, Remain will win comfortably.
There’s no sign that business figures will get into the big TV debates in a big way.
We haven’t heard much yet about the future of Scotland if Britain votes to leave the EU. Like nearly everything else, it’s arguable either way – but I expect that the Prime Minister and Remain are saving it up for the campaign proper. Expect to hear much more about it between now and voting day.
As the Leave designation battle confirms, UKIP’s priority is not the future of Britain, but the future of UKIP.
Back to those polls. In May, they over-represented Labour voters. These are more pro-Remain than many others. So the phone polls could be over-estimating that Remain total. But the truth is that no-one knows and the pollsters are covering their backs.
In 1975, voters could remember life outside the EU. Most can’t now. That’s a problem for the Leave campaign.
Downing Street expected about a quarter of the Conservative Parliamentary Party to back Leave. Instead, the final total will be nearer half – probably settling down at about two in five. It knows a lot about how to run a campaign; it knows rather less about its own MPs. The deal left many deeply unimpressed.
What Liberal Democrats?
Turnout is more of a problem for Remain than Leave. That could have a crucial effect on the result. Last May’s election suggested that the ground war is no less important than the air war, and that turning out one’s voters matters. Who will knock on doors and deliver letters for Remain?
Boris is up, Javid is down, and politics is a long game.
There is no evidence that most voters are engaged in the EU referendum debate yet. One Conservative MP told this site that he has received only three e-mails from constituents about it. That will change once the formal campaign is under way. Or will it?