2016 elections in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and London on 5th May now likely to coincide with In-Out referendum vote
The Queen’s speech in Westminster today (Wednesday) set out the legislative agenda for Prime Minister Cameron’s new Conservative Government. A long list of legislation priorities were announced by the Queen in a speech written by the UK Government. The only legislative proposal in the speech to be given a timeframe was a law to allow for an In-Out referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.
“The fact that the text contained a reference to introduce ‘early legislation’ is very telling. No other legislative proposal in the speech was given the ‘early’ timeframe. While the speech went on to say that the proposed legislation will allow for a referendum ‘before the end of 2017’ this is the exact text of a previously proposed Bill that had a lot of support from Tory backbenchers and is already in circulation. This existing Bill allows for a vote anytime before 2017.”
“With the UK to assume the Presidency of the EU in the second half of 2017, a 2017 referendum is unlikely. The UK and Brussels will want to avoid a UK Presidency being dominated by the UK negotiating with itself on behalf of the EU. French and German elections in 2017 also make a 2017 date unlikely. The Dutch Presidency of the EU in the first half of 2016 could facilitate UK negotiators as the Dutch share concerns about a number of reforms. Were they to reach agreement, a 2016 vote would be a certainty.”
“Elections to the Assemblies of Northern Ireland, Wales and London, a Scottish Parliament election and a London Mayoral race are already set to take place on 5th May 2016. These areas are seen as strong supporters of staying in the EU and could be the deciding factor.”
“As the biggest issue for Irish foreign policy since Independence, a UK referendum next May means that 2016 is not only an important date for our history but also an important date for our future.”