Britain's membership of the EU has become a very divisive subject and, without sensible action, that division will continue long after the referendum. In the event of a Remain vote, Ukip will be resurgent because none of the issues that have led to its rise will have been addressed. It will continue its upward trajectory and eat into the vote of both Labour and the Conservatives at the next General Election. If nothing else, this referendum has revealed people's profound anger at being forced into political union, and it would be folly to ignore it.
If there is a Leave vote, there will be a period of uncertainty as Parliament tries to decipher exactly what a Leave vote means and how to deal with it. Whichever way Parliament tries to address the people's mandate, there will be loud cries of unfairness from all sides, and each cry of foul could slow down or derail whatever mechanism is used to give effect to the Leave vote.
As I've previously written, the Prime Minister has the opportunity to take a pragmatic step to avoid all of that uncertainty and unpleasantness. David Cameron can go for the EEA Option and unite the country behind him. The benefits of the EEA Option have been outlined in some detail by Roland Smith, fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. You can read more about it here and here.
By taking the EEA Option the Prime Minister would be listening to the vast majority of the British people who do not want political union with the EU, but would protect the British economy by maintaining access to the Common Market. Even people in the Remain camp who support the economic arguments to stay in the EU question the necessity for political union, and since we are not part of the Eurozone, there is no need for the UK to have so much law and policy set in Brussels.
EEA membership gives the UK an autonomous brake on immigration; we do not need to ask permission from Brussels to use it. Along with the fact that Parliament would once again be supreme sovereign in our democracy, the emergency immigration brake would address the principal concerns of those who want to leave the EU.
Signalling the EEA Option would be a pragmatic step from a Prime Minister who has the best interests of the nation at heart. It is an opportunity to provide true leadership that would prevent discontent, division and uncertainty while recognising that the British people have fundamental problems with political union.
I hope that David Cameron has the foresight for such a step and have taken the cheeky liberty of imagining what his letter to voters might look like (click to enlarge):
If you like the sound of an end to political union, but retaining access to the Common Market, then the EEA Option is for you. Let's see whether the power of digital activism can get the EEA Option to the top of the agenda and shift the divisive referendum debate to a sensible, pragmatic solution.
You can also tweet #EEA to opinion formers such as Katharine Viner of the Guardian, Andrew Neil of the Daily Politics, Paul Waugh of The Huffington Post, Nick Robinson of the BBC, Tim Mongomerie of The Times, Robert Peston of ITV, Isabel Oakshott of The Daily Mail, Zanny Minton Beddoes, of The Economist, Tim Stanley of the Daily Telegraph, Fraser Nelson of the Spectator, Lloyd Embley of the Mirror, Tony Gallagher of The Sun, Amol Rajan of The Independent, and Mick Booker of the Daily Express (apologies to any opinion formers not on this list. You'll understand the importance of my word count).
I'll get the ball rolling:
Since we're never going to join the Euro, something like the EEA Option is inevitable in a two-tier EU. Let's take the initiative now, and unite around a sensible solution. If our shouty politicians don't listen, remember that a vote to leave will almost certainly result in the EEA Option, so don't be put off by all the hyperbolic fear mongering and vote for what you think is best for the UK.