If the UK were to hold an in/out referendum on EU membership, what would the process look like? Fortunately, there is a recent similar case that it might end up mirroring, or even parodying. I'm referring to the referendum in Scotland about whether Scotland should be Independent (yes) or remain in the UK (no).
The first point of similarity could well be the phrasing of the question on the ballot/referendum paper. Instead of, "should Scotland be Independent" (yes)?, the question may well read: "should the UK leave the EU" (yes)? The questions look remarkably. In essence, "should Scotland be Independent of the UK?", becomes "should the UK become Independent of EU?". A second similarity is likely to be the length of the campaign.
The Scottish referendum campaign went on for well over a year in Scotland, but only in the last month or two did it really begin to take-off in the UK media.
The in/out referendum is likely to be similar in campaign terms. Once the general election in May 2015 is over, we will know very quickly whether there will be an in/out referendum in 2017 or not. If we do have a referendum, the campaign in the UK will effectively start at the end of 2015, and will run for over a year.
This has a real parallel to the referendum in Scotland. The Scottish Independence referendum was a very long fought battle in Scotland, and had almost blanket coverage in Scotland for over a year. However, in the rest of the UK, it was only in the penultimate stage of the referendum that the people of the rest of the UK (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) became energised. The same is likely with a UK in/out referendum. From the end of 2015, for over a year, it will dominate the UK media, but the rest of Europe's media will be disinterested. However, in the penultimate phase, the media of all of Europe will suddenly become engaged in the UK referendum..
The final two points of similarity are what is likely to happen in the opinion polls, and how the yes/no campaigns are likely to present themselves.
In terms of polls, Scotland looked very unlikely to vote "Yes". They were not positive about The Union, but grudgingly and reluctantly the silent minority backed The Union. This may well be the UK's view on EU. Initially, the UK will have a silent majority in favour of "No" (don't leave the EU), who will grudgingly and reluctantly back EU membership.
But then, the noise and optimism of the "yes" vote will begin to pick-up. Those who argue the UK should stay in the EU, will fight a negative campaign about economic ruin the "No" campaign in Scotland. In the same way that UK parties and Westminster threatened Scotland with economic ruin, through losing the pound, the EU countries will threaten the UK with economic ruin, by loss of trade agreements.
However, days before the referendum, with the UK polls having narrowed, and "become too close to call", the media of the EU will go into melt down, and all of Europe's TV stations will focus on the UK referendum.
The leaders of the EU will suddenly start to woo the UK.
Finally, the referendum will show a swing back, with the "No" vote finally coming in triumphant. All this is speculation. #Government