i Assistant Editor's Letter: The referendum we've all been waiting for...


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The Independent Online


It’s the single issue that’s been dominating the news of late, but finally, after weeks of debate and posturing, we’re going to get to vote on Europe.

Recent coverage has focused on whether the French or Germans will get their way, but the bigger question for the Europeans is what will happen to those on the big stage if the British have a null vote?

The UKIP leader Nigel Farage can bang his drum for Britain as loud as he likes, but the chances are he’ll end up dancing to the Europeans’ tunes. The Romanians and Bulgarians, he promises, will be plumping for Britain, but many dispute the figures, claiming there won’t be enough of them to make a difference.

David Cameron has been forced into a series of hastily arranged appearances, culminating in a showpiece event tonight under the banner of “Believe in me” (see page 6). Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband have already indicated which way they will swing, putting their feet firmly in the European camp. But there  are always rebels among the ranks who lead the pollsters on a merry dance – they want in, before changing their stance to out.

To some, the European argument is all Greek, mostly down to the electoral system and how the votes are totted up. But what Britain chooses has a huge impact on the rest of Europe – all over the Continent people will be huddled around their television screens, eagerly anticipating the final result.

Turnout in Britain is bound to be low - people are already fed up with the endless talk of in/out, in/out – the danger is that they just want to shake it all about instead.

But when tonight’s Eurovision Song Contest has finished, Bonnie Tyler can relax and we can concentrate on the EU referendum debate.

Twitter.com: @jonesrhodri