IN exactly 10 weeks those who weren’t glued to their television screens, laptops or radios all night will wake up to discover whether Britain has elected to remain in Europe or not.
Whether Friday June 24 will see the nation awakening to drizzly rain and an uncertain future, or simply overcast skies, will be largely determined by the efforts of opposing wordsmiths as the Brexit campaign officially got underway this morning.
Although rabid rhetoric and wild speculation have been rife on both sides of the aisle for months, the official campaign period will see the intensity ramped up as the copy-writing, graphic-designing, propaganda recruits put forth their creative efforts.
In the next 10 weeks the two official campaigns will be able to spend £7 million, with £600,000 coming from the public purse, and have a ‘free’ mailshot and national television broadcast thrown in as part of the package.
In the red corner the ‘Remain’ camp will see bespectacled owl and former chancellor Alistair Darling re-emerge from the ashes of the Scottish referendum campaign to fulfil the same role of issuing dire prophecy and stern warnings.
Speaking later today in Westminster Darling will argue: “When the IMF single us out as facing what will be a self-inflicted wound, we can’t ignore it. We can’t afford to take a decision where no one on the other side has any clear idea of where we would end up if we left.”
Meanwhile in the blue corner the ham-fisted hairdo that is Boris Johnson, will ramble his way through a rally in Manchester later this evening with his proposed script set to tug heartstrings by arguing that some of the UK’s £10.6bn net contribution to Brussels could be used to pay for hospital beds.
London’s outgoing mayor has become something of a figurehead for ‘Vote Leave’, which was designated the official Brexit campaign, much to the chagrin of the spurned hodgepodge of rival crusaders.
Describing the Brexit bout in terms of a red and blue corner is somewhat disingenuous as the debate has quickly become bogged down in a simmering Tory civil war.
Framing the debate in terms of left vs right is also made redundant by the Labour leader’s lukewarm attitude to the EU, and the sense that he’d quite happily extract Britain from the neoliberal apparatchik if it wouldn’t leave the rabid right of the conservatives in charge. Corbyn has warned that, unchecked, the Tories would cannibalise British workers in a “bonfire of rights”.
With very few polls daring to confidently predict the outcome, the next 10 weeks will likely be fraught with PR scripted speeches, occasional gaffes, daft headlines, and the grave interventions of ex-politicians you were sure were either dead, or locked up.