As David Cameron predicted, we are hearing all sorts of ‘noises’ on whether or not his European renegotiation will succeed or fail. But under the noise, as James explains in the magazine this week, the ‘Yes’ campaign to stay in the European Union has already begun.
The ‘Yes’ side has many advantages, not least because it has the positive word and is defending the status quo, both of which appeal a little more to voters. It can also enjoy the support of both the Whitehall and EU machines, which is not unimportant.
Meanwhile, the frustrations in the ‘No’ or ‘Out’ camp largely focus on timing. Ukip are particularly annoyed that Tories don’t want to start campaigning to leave the EU until David Cameron has returned with the result of his renegotiation, which they think gives them a further disadvantage. One Ukip spokesman says: ‘The Tories seem to think that the Out campaign can just start once we’ve found out what the result of the renegotiation is when the In campaign will have been running for months, with all the help of government.’
What would be better, committed Outers believe, is for their campaign to start now, and to get a huge boost from an influx of Tories who say they were disappointed by what Cameron brought back from Brussels. This would add no end of credibility to the campaign. But it would involve those Tories agreeing that a campaign would start without them, and some of them are a little wary of allowing other parties, particularly Ukip, too much say in how things run in the months before they join.