On March 14, 2016, it emerged that 53% of the French would welcome a referendum on their membership of the European Union.
The Independent reported:
Given the opportunity to vote, French opinion divided between 44 per cent saying they would stay and 33 per cent saying they would leave, with the rest unsure.
The figures appear to show that a possible referendum in France would be not dissimilar to the race in the UK, where latest polls show a narrow lead for the “In” camp …
France is the EU nation that wants Brexit the most. Only 56% of the French want us to remain in the EU. Some perceive our renegotiations poorly, but others are interested (positively) to see what might happen.
By contrast, 73% of Germans would like to see us remain and 79% of the Irish do.
Among Swedes, that figure drops somewhat to 67%.
On March 14, EurActiv reported on the same figures. With regard to Britain (emphases mine):
“The British referendum is a laboratory for other referendums in Europe,” commented Anand Menon, professor of European politics at King’s College London, quoted in French daily Le Monde.
You bet — which is why Menon added:
Such trivialisation could produce devastating effects.
If only. The European project with all its anonymity, bureaucracy, legislation and waste truly deserves to unravel, country by country.
After the French, the Swedes are the next group most wanting a referendum (49%). More than a third (37%) would like to leave.
All these figures come from a study produced by the University of Edinburgh. The study’s authors caution that we should not conflate the desire for a referendum with euroscepticism.
It is interesting that many in France and Sweden think that Brexit would not affect us economically. In fact:
In both France and Sweden, there were also more people who think the UK economy would do better outside of the EU although the most common response in both countries is that Brexit would make no difference.
Five weeks later, EurActiv reported on a Swedish poll by Sifo showing that, if the UK votes Brexit, 36% of Swedes would also vote to leave (33% would vote to remain), nearly matching the University of Edinburgh’s:
“If there’s going to be a ‘Brexit’, then this would raise so many questions related to the impact on the EU and the Swedish membership,” said Göran von Sydow, a political scientist and researcher at the Swedish Institute for European Political Studies (SIEPS).
So, Swexit (my word — you read it here first) could be a real possibility.
Furthermore, if the Swedes follow us in holding a referendum, other northern European countries will surely follow:
… in Denmark, where the Danish People’s Party is the second-biggest in the parliament, the party’s spokesperson for EU affairs Kenneth Kristensen Berth said Brexit would automatically force Denmark to reconsider its own membership.
Not least since Denmark mainly joined the EU together with the UK back in 1973 because Britain was its biggest export market at the time.
The Spectator‘s Fraser Nelson has a good article accompanied by graphs which explain the Swedish perspective on the matter. He rightly observes:
This throws open a fascinating new line of argument for Leave. What if those voting to leave, far from being isolationist, are pioneers of a new globally-minded alliance of countries who are fed up with having to discriminate against non-European goods, services and people? Might a vote to leave put Britain at the forefront of a new internationalism: one based on genuine co-operation and respect for sovereignty?
And the Remain camp can, of course, say that Britain would be voting not just to leave the EU but to smash the whole thing. The collapse of the EU would be bound to bring horrid uncertainty: would we wish that upon our neighbours?
All told, Jean-Claude Juncker should – by now – be wishing that he had given David Cameron the deal that he wanted. The PM’s demands were modest, came with a firm democratic mandate – and one would have given him a valuable weapon to use in this debate. A deal granting a looser alliance with Britain and our northern European friends (imagined in Andrew Marr’s Brexit novel Head of State) would have made an ‘in’ vote a certainty.
People like Jean-Claude Juncker are the reason why many Britons will vote for Brexit. Juncker and Co’s arrogance is unsurpassed.
First, Brexit. Then, all being well, Swexit, Dexit (also coined here) and, perhaps, Frexit. The possibilities are awesome*!
*traditional sense of the word