A brake on Brexit

Is the end in sight? There are reports that David Cameron is now close to securing a much-vaunted deal with the EU that would allow Britain to apply an ‘emergency brake’ on European migration if it pressures the UK’s social and welfare systems. If confirmed, the accord would allow the PM to wrap up his renegotiation of Britain’s EU membership on schedule and move full steam ahead towards a summer referendum.

The PM has added incentive to get things done and dusted quickly following an escalation in tensions within and between the campaigns vying to lead the charge for Brexit. Vote Leave, the more Conservative-affiliated outfit, appears wracked with internal splits amid calls for its controversial chief strategist Dominic Cummings to step aside. Sensing an opening, the leader of the UKIP-linked campaign Leave.EU Arron Banks has launched a scathing attack on Vote Leave, branding it “sheepish” and establishment-minded.

The splits within Vote Leave and Banks’ efforts to exploit them may give Leave.EU critical momentum in the race with its rival to win designation as the main Brexit movement from the Electoral Commission. Should Leave.EU succeed, the campaign for EU exit will take on a much more populist and anti-immigrant twang. The downside for the Outers is that this will put off senior Conservative figures who are more animated about the economic case for leaving and limit the cultural appeal of Team Brexit. What may seem a storm in teacup will have profound consequences for one the most important debates in modern political history.

Photograph: Global Panorama

Larry Smith

Hill & Knowlton Strategies Search