Referendum campaign – … perhaps, the end of the beginning

We are starting to see where everybody stands now that Donald Tusk has published the EU draft response to the reforms tabled by the UK.

The EUphobes will be satisfied with nothing less than withdrawal from the EU, even though they cannot agree among themselves just what withdrawal means, much less put forward a proposition that we can compare against what we currently have through the UK’s membership of the EU.

Nonetheless, there seems to be the basis of a deal; BUT we do not yet have a deal. There are a couple of weeks to go before the February Council meeting and some of the other 27 member states are still not convinced on all the measures.

The negotiations are still ongoing and while the EU’s draft is seen by many as forming the basis of a deal, there is still much to be done. The Remain campaign should resist the temptation to trumpet something that may yet not be agreed later this month and could still not be agreed at all.

Even when it is all agreed we have to remember that the referendum is about far more than the results of these negotiations. Success or failure in these negotiations, however measured, has always been just a small part of the debate.

It will be about whether the UK is going to engage in the EU and help develop and lead the EU to deal with the challenges of the changing world we live in.

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