Britain voting to leave could undermine Cameron's "big society" visionby Rebecca Coulson / February 1, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more: Twelve things you need to know about Brexit
Read more: EU negotiations: will Cameron get the migrant deal he wants?
There’s nothing like a binary question to stir emotions, and few questions are more stirring than the one we will face when we vote on Britain’s membership of the European Union. But while we have seen the draft ballot paper and thus know the wording of the question, there is much else that we are still in the dark about. We do not know when the vote will take place, we do not know whether ongoing negotiations will affect the essence of what we are voting on, and we do not know who the senior MPs campaigning for “in” and “out” will be.
Clashes over the referendum could split the country asunder, but what effect might such clashes have on the (usually sturdy) Conservative cabinet?
With Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Opposition the Conservative party is free to do almost anything it pleases—almost nothing can jeopardise its victory in 2020. In addition, Cameron will almost certainly stand down before the next general election, and it is not yet certain who his replacement will be. Thus, while defying the party line on a referendum is usually career suicide, if there was ever a time to do it, this is it. Indeed, dispute has even been sanctioned from above.
For which side are different cabinet ministers likely to campaign? Cameron and Osborne will, of course, mastermind “in,” and—since Iain Duncan Smith is avoiding the main campaign—the significant “outers” are Leader of the House of Commons Chris Grayling and Theresa Villiers, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Stephen Crabb, Secretary of State for Wales, and Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, are batting for “in.” John Whittingdale, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, is batting for “out” but, at the moment, lesser-known politicians…