#EUref set for 23 June – how will it affect the #ae16 campaign?

EUref 23 June calendarWhat everyone has suspected has been confirmed. Seven weeks after the 5 May elections – for devolved institutions in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales; English local government; the London Assembly and the London Mayor – UK voters will return to the polls for the European Union on Thursday 23 June.

The Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics programme in March and groups like EU Debate NI are running events to help make sense of the advantages and disadvantages of leaving or remaining in the European Union. Some political parties are also arranging meetings on the topic.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers is among the Conservative cabinet ministers actively campaigning to leave.

  • Will the debate over Europe provide a welcome distraction from the normal politicking during Assembly elections?
  • Will it lift public and political heads out of purely local issues to think about the bigger picture and how Northern Ireland sees itself within Europe?
  • Or will it heighten our identity politics?

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  • chrisjones2

    It should be an excuse to lift the debate but it simply wont be. As the recent poll showed the spit on LEAVE – REMAIN is deeply sectarian

  • Ernekid

    I’m curious to see how Unionism will play this. Nesbitt will probably take the same line that Cameron has taken. Pretending that these ‘reforms’ are significant and campaign to stay in, in order to keep the farmers on side. Jim Nicholson has been a fairly effective MEP over the years and I doubt that the UUP will want to throw it all away.

    The DUP might be a lot more split on this. Sammy Wilson, the Doddses and Ian Óg Paisley have all backed voting out. I’m curious about Foster. Her time as Enterprise minister will have informed as to how important the EU is to the NI economy and now as she’s First Minister her head might win over her heart.

    Maybe if the UUP take a strong pro-EU line they could strengthen their rural vote? Winning the votes of farmers by saying they want to stay in EU and continue with all the associated European subsidies might swing a few rural unionist votes. The reception of unionist parties at events like the Balmoral Show could very well influence how many seats are won by each party.

  • the keep

    The importance of the farm vote is rapidly declining I suspect all the Unionist parties will come out in support of leaving the EU.

  • Ernekid

    In Constituencies like Mid Ulster, South Down and Fermanagh South Tyrone. The farming vote does matter especially in the battle for transfers.

  • Angry Mob

    Initially I had thought that Mr Cameron would of played the long game, but he backed himself into a corner and has came back with empty promises, lies and false hopes. Now he has had his Chamberlin moment lets hope he doesn’t fool the electorate like 1972.

    Our only hope is a a reasonable leave group is given head designation but given the current forerunners that’s not looking most likely.

  • John Collins

    Well Chris I saw a farmer from South Down named Edward Carson ( I kid you not) being interviewed on RTV News the other evening. He said that as far as he was concerned ‘the Devil we know is better the Devil we don’t’. He also said he never saw a Tory Government that had much time for farmers.
    PS I always capitalise you know who, as in his case life is way too short to be making enemies.

  • the rich get richer

    Well ; Its going to make it more interesting for me.

    I want out but that will be difficult with all that the government and its allies (the In crew) will throw at it.

  • terence patrick hewett

    It is all warming up nicely: Gove has come out like his fellow Scot, Macaulay:

    Then out spake brave Horatius,
    The Captain of the Gate:
    “To every man upon this earth
    Death cometh soon or late.
    And how can man die better
    Than facing fearful odds,
    For the ashes of his fathers,
    And the temples of his Gods.”

  • mickfealty

    With the poll of polls saying it is neck and neck I went along to a @StrongerIn event this morning and grabbed a periscope interview each with a Tory MP and Labour MEP on the IN side of the argument:

    Neil Carmichael: https://goo.gl/QnupxR

    Clare Moody MEP: https://goo.gl/HmKAMT

    If you consider Quintin Oliver’s Ten Iron Laws for Winning a Scottish Referendum (http://goo.gl/PpnbTN) it makes sense from Cameron’s point of view to cut and run for a quick referendum, not least because it coincides with if not government popularlity then certainly no real public disgruntlement with them either.

    The high profile Tories who’ve come out of OUT so to speak may actually help him in this regard because they don’t exactly come from the most popular end of the party.

    He doesn’t have Scotland or Wales to worry about because Plaid, Labour and the SNP (despite grumbling about it) will have to have that covered for him. Therefore he is free to focus resolutely on Middle England.

    How will affect #AE16? If the DUP and Arlene come out against there will be some interesting conversations with farmers across NI for DUP candidates.

    Big English farmers sit high and dry above the raft of subsidies (even then they are mostly pro EU), but in all the fringe nations/regions, the annual hand out of Brussels is what keeps them viable.

    The problem they all will have is getting their voters to care enough one way or the other. Far easier and less complicated sell to Nationalists of course not least because of how coming out of a customs union will really seriously screw any current notions of building an all island economy.

  • notimetoshine

    Ideally the assembly parties will take a pragmatic approach. Unless the referendum is going to be won or lost on a razor thin majority, NI is irrelevant. Really our parties need to be explaining to people what they will do in the event of an exit in terms of dealing with our unique situation.

    How will the border work? How will cross border trade and work be dealt with? What policy will the executive pursue in terms of lobbying Westminster for legislation to deal with the border.

    With the EU being important to our economy both because of the border and our farmers the assembly parties need to outline their policies now and show they are preparing for all eventualities.

  • Brendan Heading

    Not clear that Jim will do another term as MEP – he’ll be what, 74 when the next European election comes up ?

    The UUP are likely to be a mixed bag.

    The DUP are consistently Eurosceptic and have supported the UK leaving for a long time now. I doubt we’ll hear from any DUP Europhiles who’ve been hiding away; no DUP member or supporter can claim they didn’t know their party would take this position. It’s nothing to do with DETI or whether or not the Northern Ireland economy is better served and more to do with the party’s populist and conservative instincts which are, broadly speaking, similar to those of UKIP.

  • the rich get richer

    Maybe the Public will make up their own minds ! On this issue they may not be too anxious to follow the political parties or the establishment which is going to be mostly for staying in.

  • eireanne3

    bel tel has said the DUP and TUV are voting LEAVE, just like our SOS Ms Theresa Villiers. No news as yet from the UUP. Alliance, SF and SDLP are calling for STAY

  • Karl

    Building an all ireland economy will not further the cause of unification. Germany would not have been unified if the east Germans had had the same standard of living. There would have been no driver, particularly when one political elite was going to take a hit.
    Similarly, NI will only look to join Ireland when it has been demonstrably proven that being on the periphery of an austerity led tory UK govt outside the EU is detrimental to the economic.well being to the inhabitants of NI.
    Without having sufficient economic levers within their control and with interests diametrically opposed to the centre they will look to become part of a small dynamic economy with a GNP per capita double thst of NI.
    Slowly, slowly integration will not catch the unification monkey.
    Poverty and plaster ripping will. This is why a Brexit is good news for the 32 countyists.

  • barnshee

    The reason for separation by the Ulster prod are not economic-murder and support for the murder by the ROI remain the block

  • barnshee

    The balance of trade N/S is massively in favour of S
    Joint Border posts- Approved crossings and joint policing will sort out any wrinkles

  • Karl

    Meanwhile the younger generations look forward and leave the myopic histrionics to their elders.

  • Zig70

    I’m thinking we should support fellow nationalists in England. Vote Out. Out of EU for the English and out of UK for the rest of us. Can we get a 1916 moment and make it about us? Not yet as the southern electorate wouldn’t get the nuance. Most commentators seem to think that an out vote would destablise the union so why would you vote yes if you desire a UI? Same goes for the Scots.

  • Graham Parsons

    Mmm you’ll be waiting a long time for a reasonable leave group to emerge.

  • Angry Mob

    They do exist, they just don’t have the funding nor do they live in the SW1 bubble.

  • notimetoshine

    That may well be the case but what about the Northern businesses that do a lot of trade in the republic? They will still need assurances and structures in place.

    As for approved crossings, could be very inconvenient for people who regularly socialise and work over the border. I don’t like the idea of a checkpoint every time I want a pint in omeath. I’m also concerned about cross border workers. How would a brexit impact?

  • Graham Parsons

    Following a britexit if I was a U.S. or foreign company looking to invest in Ireland would I set up in Newry or in Dundalk? Bit of a no brainer really. The unionist politicians should be ashamed of themselves. When hatred of others is your currency it’s hard to give it up.

  • eireanne3

    have a look here for potential outcomes and pitfalls

  • Zig70

    Thanks, read it, still unsure which way I favour. Appears the Scots are banking on an English out vote to trigger another independence vote, though I’m not sure the Irish should follow.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Only party it would effect is the party that is yet to declare intent, the Ulster Unionists.