sábado, 16 de abril de 2016

Will Obama’s Brexit intervention make a difference?

Will Obama’s Brexit intervention make a difference?
Simon Jenkins
Friday 15 April 2016 11.12 BST

The US president has declared his support for the remain camp. But Britons might not like outsiders meddling in their politics
Barack Obama is right. Britain is America’s closest ally and deserves its unswerving support in time of peril. If Britain wants his vote on the EU, that’s the way it will be. It’s high fives for Dave when the president arrives next week.

But hold on. Which Britain wants his vote, the inners or the outers? As the BBC would put it, if that is one American president against Brexit, do we now need one in favour? It might seem uncontroversial for Obama to remark that “all of us benefit when the EU can speak with a strong and a single voice”. But a single European voice, as Gandhi said of western civilisation, “I think would be a good idea.”

People never like outsiders meddling in their politics, least of all on the opening day of a referendum campaign. An election is a deeply chauvinist moment. But as many world leaders could attest, that has never stopped America, or Britain, from intervening. It has become the leitmotif of their diplomacy. A different question is how much Obama’s opinion matters. Polls indicate that Cameron’s recent slump in fortune has narrowed the balance to neck-and-neck.

The reality is that no one has a clue what is going to happen.

The polls have no idea whether they have their samples right. Political polling has become an art not a science. Even the arguments themselves seem to have moved towards equilibrium as the campaign progresses. For each economic and political prediction about a post-Brexit Britain there is a counter-prediction. Debate craves a balance. It grows ever harder to weigh gains against losses. For every Brexit yin there is a yang.

Cameron calls the argument “the gamble of the century”, yet there is even a balance emerging between those who believe it is a gamble and those who do not. This could indeed be Armageddon, or in the fullness of time it will make little difference how Britain decides. If we leave we will negotiate a partial return, and if we stay we will negotiate a partial leave.

The only certainty is the absence of certainty. Not only is there no plausible prediction of the referendum’s outcome, there is no prediction of the outcome of the outcome. That is the fascination, indeed the glory, of democratic politics, that the decision of the people is secret and sovereign. We can argue all night. But like Obama’s intervention, it could all be wind and waffle. How much wind and waffle, who can say?

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