James Forsyth

‘No’ campaign coordinator pushes idea of two referendums

'No' campaign coordinator pushes idea of two referendums
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Dominic Cummings is the man drafted in to put together the putative No campaign for the EU referendum. Cummings has a tendency to surprise and he has done that today with a piece that pushes the idea that the No campaign should say that there would be a second referendum if Britain votes Out. This second vote would be on the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU.

Cummings’ thinking is that this would de-risk voting No. People would be simply rejecting the deal that David Cameron had negotiated rather than voting to leave outright.

Cummings sums up the advantages of a second referendum for No thus:

This approach might allow NO to dodge its biggest problem – the idea that a NO vote is a vote to leave in one jump and is therefore a leap in the dark. It would allow NO to portray YES as the truly risky option. This approach would enable NO to build a coalition between a) those who think we should just leave (about a third) and b) those who dislike the EU but are worried about leaving (about a third) and who may be persuaded that ‘Cameron’s deal is bad and we should try to get a better one but the only way to force this is to vote NO’.

Politically, I can see how this would help the No campaign in the first referendum. It would also make it easier to put together a coalition of those who don’t like individual aspects of the Cameron deal. For instance, one could see trade unions being more inclined to back a No vote if they knew it wasn’t actually a vote to leave.

Cummings’ intervention today is a reminder that despite trailing badly in the polls, the No campaign is beginning to pull itself together and still has a few shots left in its locker. It is also worth noting that Charles Moore floated this idea of two referendums in the last issue of The Spectator.