The New Statesman’s rolling politics blog


Would Cameron lose a Lisbon referendum?

Who would win a post-ratification vote?

We all know that David Cameron will renege on his pledge to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, but what would the result be if one was called?

Over at Comment Central, Daniel Finkelstein suggests the No campaign would be defeated. He writes: "Why would the result of a post-ratification referendum be different to one held before ratification? Simple. People react differently to overturning the established position than they do to changing it [sic]."

I'm unconvinced. Labour and the Lib Dems would present a vote against Lisbon as tantamount to a vote for EU withdrawal (and they'd be right) but that could actually encourage more voters to reject the treaty. Given the anti-establishment mood, it would be remarkable if voters approved the creation of an EU president and foreign minister. A newly elected Conservative government could also claim a mandate to campaign against the treaty.

A September YouGov poll suggested that 43 per cent of voters would rather leave the EU than accept Lisbon without a vote. It'll be worth keeping an eye on Ukip's poll ratings in the days after Cameron's statement tomorrow.

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