23 may 2015, the alternative vote

Born of reaping the grim fate of being on the tory-led "establishment" side of the scottish referendum, the otherwise-excellent tristram hunt (aspiring shadow chancellor) has been talking about the eu referendum, following the emerging labour line in favour of staying in, but oppositiontunistically decrying cameron for failing in his much-vaunted reform negotiations. This does rather seem to be backing themselves into the corner of saying cameron failed and got nothing, but vote yes anyway to the same old eu. The main event is of course the prime minister getting out of his own corner, as he doesn't want to leave, but is leading a referendum where the country may very well vote to do that. There are worse things, as switzerlerland and norway know, than voluntarily being bound by the rules and paying the bill for full access to the single market without clocking up the air miles to brussels to negotiate them in the first place, but britain's place in the world outside the eu is a diminished one. It's also one that the much-maligned establishment doesn't want, and now the referendum is real eu leaders are already working to make reform as substantial as possible, and business leaders are coming out of the closeut and making the case for the pros of sharing not losing sovereignty. There is a route which enables the eurozone to merge much more in the fullness of time (see 21 february 2015, le demos nouveaux et arrivé !), but provides enough power and form to the slow-laners led by the uk as to maintain an equilibrium of powers that makes such second-class membership worthwhile. Whether the disgruntled brits though are going to vote for it (see 24 february 2014, sleepwalking towards the exit) is quite another matter.