The ins and outs of a European referendum

What happens if there’s another Coalition - and what about Scottish independence?


Q What happens if the European Union backs away from the negotiations on a new treaty to entrench reforms to the eurozone?

A Although EU leaders cooled on the idea of negotiating a new treaty last month, David Cameron believes there will be one eventually. His “strong preference” is to “enact these changes for the entire EU, not just for Britain”. But if there is no appetite for a new treaty, he would still table Britain’s demands for a “new settlement” and force its EU partners to the negotiating table.

Q What happens if Mr Cameron is not happy with the new deal he secures for the UK?

A The €64,000 question. The Prime Minister said he is “optimistic” about winning a good enough new deal for Britain, so he could recommend staying in the EU in the referendum. Hardline Tory Eurosceptics think he is unlikely to secure such a settlement. They expect to vote No in the referendum, and want to hear Mr Cameron say he is prepared to do so. In practice, he might have to contemplate recommending a No vote if other EU leaders called his bluff. But he does not want to say so – yet—as such an open threat to leave the EU would further alienate the other leaders.

Q What if the Conservatives  fail to win an overall majority  at the 2015 election and  form another coalition with  the Liberal Democrats?

A Mr Cameron said a referendum will happen by the end of 2017 “if I am Prime Minister”, But life would not be that simple. The Liberal Democrats oppose an in/out referendum now and it is difficult to imagine them changing their mind. They could join forces with Labour and vote down the legislation needed to call a referendum, or even pull out of such a coalition.

Q Could Britain really persuade the rest of the EU to exempt it from the “ever closer union” envisaged by the bloc’s founding fathers in 1957?

A Conservative Eurosceptics are delighted that Mr Cameron is aiming so high. Such a win would formalise a two-tier EU. But other EU members are highly unlikely to give Britain such special treatment, or demolish one of the Union’s tablets of stone.

Q What powers might be returned from the EU to Britain?

A Mr Cameron did not issue a shopping list today but gave some clues, citing social affairs, the environment and crime. He stressed the importance of the Foreign Office’s root-and-branch review of which functions should be carried out by Brussels and London, due to be completed next year. EU diplomats suggest the UK might be allowed a symbolic victory on the EU’s working time directive, but rule out an opt-out from the entire Social Chapter, which other nations see as integral to the single market. There is strong opposition in Paris and Berlin to an “à la carte” Europe and Britain being allowed to “cherry-pick” which bits it wants.

Q How will the proposed Europe referendum affect Scotland?

A Alex Salmond the SNP First Minister, is already arguing that the best way Scotland, which is predominantly pro-European, can be sure of remaining in the EU is to vote to leave the UK in the referendum on Scottish independence in the autumn of 2014. Mr Cameron’s negotiations with the EU will begin on the assumption that the UK does not split.

But if Scotland voted to break away, the Europe referendum would only involve England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If Scotland voted No to independence, Mr Salmond could claim that Scotland could be forced to leave the EU against the wishes of its people. If Scotland voted Yes to independence, automatic membership of the EU would be unlikely if there were question marks over the UK staying in. A possible constitutional nightmare.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower