Perhaps a bold prediction but I fear that the herd instinct of political commentators is heading for another cliff. If only I had a pound for every article that talked about the 2020 election as though it was written in stone. It seems that, in spite of the catastrophic performance of the LibDems in the 2015 General Election, Nick Clegg still weaves some spell over the political commentariat, and indeed the Labour Party. His magic wand is understood to have guaranteed 5 years to the current Tory government and nobody has engaged their brain to think through what are the likely consequences of an EU referendum on the electoral timetable.
The UK will probably vote to stay in the EU. And the Tory party will almost certainly split over such a result. Those MPs who campaign for an out vote will not come back in line to keep Cameron in Number 10. They will be angry and alienated by a Yes to Europe campaign that will have bombarded voters with scare stories about a Brexit. They will also see the opportunity to seize the leadership of the 40% or so who voted No. A powerful size of vote under first past the post.
And it will not be a few die-hard Euro-sceptics defecting to UKIP. Conservatives for Britain are likely to have at least 50 MPs and possibly many more.
So what happens if the Tories split? Surely Labour can’t abstain on a vote of confidence. The Cameron Government will fall.
Forget the two-thirds rule, there will then be 14 days to form a new government or there will be an election. It is hard to see the pro-EU Tories supporting a minority Labour government (with the help of the SNP) although there is the outside chance of a grand coalition. So if the EU referendum is to take place in June or September 2016 we can expect the next General Election to be in autumn 2016. Sadly I have not yet found a bookmaker offering odds on that…