The campaign against Brexit continues today with Tony Blair’s speech in Brussels. I personally think that this campaign is unlikely to succeed, it is simply too much of a replay of the In campaign’s arguments from the 2016 referendum.
But if this attempt to reverse the referendum result is to have any hope of succeeding, Blair’s leg is the most important. For he is asking the EU to make the UK an improved offer, to show that it is trying to address the concerns that led to so many people voting to Leave.
Every time the European Union has asked a country to vote again on a treaty it has provided some concession to make it more palatable second time round. After the Danes rejected Maastricht, they were given four opt-outs designed to address the concerns about sovereignty that had driven the initial No vote. The Irish were given assurances on their neutrality before voting on the Nice treaty for the second time and before the second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty they were reassured that the Irish economic and social model would not be changed by it.
But I see precious few signs at the moment that the EU is inclined to come back with a better offer to the UK. It feels that it stretched things far enough during David Cameron’s renegotiation. There is little appetite to go further to keep an, if not the most, awkward member of the club in. There is also an understandable fear that making concessions to Britain after an Out vote might encourage other Eurosceptic countries to go down the same route. Politicians could urge people to vote out safe in the knowledge that they’d pretty much certainly get some changes and then another vote.
Without a fresh offer from the EU, it is hard to see how a British Prime Minister could justify going back to the public and asking them to vote again.