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15th Aug 2020

Report: UK referendum possible by summer 2016

  • British PM Cameron (r) will want to have talks for a "better deal" before German leader Merkel (l) is too busy with national elections. (Photo: Crown)

The UK could hold a referendum on EU membership as early as July 2016, The Guardian reported Monday evening (11 May).

The paper quoted a government source as saying that the “mood now is definitely to accelerate the process and give us the option of holding the referendum in 2016”.

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During his election campaign, prime minister David Cameron had promised an in/out referendum by 2017 if he was re-elected.

The referendum will be preceded by negotiations to get a "better deal” in Europe for UK. The idea is that British voters can then decide, based on the results of the talks, if they want their country to stay in the EU, of which it has been a member since 1973.

One reason for having the referendum next year already is that his two most important interlocutors will be occupied with national politics in 2017.

Both France and Germany will hold elections that year, a factor that will likely shape how they many concessions they want to give London.

Cameron, for his part, has “already made calls” to other EU leaders.

The Guardian noted that a bill, which is needed to hold a referendum, could be passed by June 2016, making a referendum possible the next month, or in September 2016, after the summer break.

Scotland

Meanwhile, Cameron has all but ruled out another vote on Scottish independence, saying there “isn't going to be another referendum”.

Even though Scotland last year voted to remain in the UK, the Scottish National Party (SNP) claimed 56 of 59 Scottish seats in Thursday's election, putting the role of Scotland in the UK back at the top of the agenda.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon noted Monday that she is not planning a second referendum, but that Cameron doesn't have “any right to rule it out”.

“Whether there is another referendum or not is really down to what people in Scotland want – there can’t be another referendum unless people vote for it. I can’t impose it on Scotland if Scotland doesn’t want it”, Sturgeon said.

The two issues are connected.

One possible outcome of the in/out EU referendum, were the Brits to vote to vote “out”, could be that relatively pro-EU Scotland would want to leave the UK to remain in the EU.

Analysis

Waiting for Cameron

Both sides have something at stake. Cameron doesn't want to be the man who led the UK out of the EU and the EU would be severely diminished by a UK exit.

Cameron in a pickle over Scotland promises

British PM David Cameron is under fire from his own party and from the Labour opposition for having promised more powers to Scotland but being vague on similar devolution plans for England.

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