Brexit: ‘No chance’ UK will leave the EU
Odds being laid in Brussels on whether the UK will quit the EU stand at around 1/6 on – which means the people in the thick of it think there will never be a so-called ‘Brexit’.
This in turn suggests debate on whether or not the UK should retain EU membership is being given media time it does not justify.
The overwhelming view among businessmen with EU connections, whose commercial antennae are sensitive to the dominant undercurrents in Brussels and Westminster, is that there is no chance, none whatsoever, of the UK leaving the EU and continued discussion is no more than hot air.
Many are angry at the unnecessary uncertainty the debate is creating with some underlining the hesitation that already surrounds incoming investment, and nervousness about continued agricultural support, being generated ahead of the 2017 referendum.
Their view is that it is abundantly apparent that those in favour of leaving the EU, which include the majority of UKIP’s 4m voters and supporters of the persistent anti-EU element in the Conservative party, are overwhelmingly outnumbered.
Support for continued UK membership is virtually unchallenged in Scotland and Northern Ireland and, as usual, pro-EU support in England and Wales appears silent compared with the noisy minority in favour.
This does not mean that the majority of British people, like many others in the EU, believe adjustments to the way the EU conducts its affairs are unnecessary.
But there is a huge difference between seeking reform and trying to encourage an unsettling stampede to the exit.
Robert Forster is a UK-based journalist who produces the Beef Industry Newsletter.