We are getting ever closer to 29 March 2019, the date on which we are due to leave the EU, and minds are beginning to focus on what that might actually mean for this country, especially if there is no agreement with the EU in place by then.
After 40 years of hate against anything European in the Daily Mail, the Sun and like-minded sections of our press, we should not, perhaps, been surprised by the No vote in 2016.There are still millions of UK citizens who do not recognise any benefits emanating from the EU, and believe that British is always best in any circumstances. They are the believers in Little Britain. For them, all the talk about consequences for this country if it leaves the UK are all part of Project Fear, designed to overturn the verdict of the 2016 referendum.
However, the Remain camp seems to be growing in strength the closer we get to cutting ourselves off from Europe. The petition by the Independent calling for a second referendum has already reached 700,000 and is growing strongly. There is clearly a growing body of opinion that understands the potential effects of leaving the EU and a changing demographic that is seeing an older generation (majority Leave voters) dying out and being replaced by young teenagers (most of whom support Remain).
As ever, the only major UK party that has been consistently pro-Europe are the Lib Dems, but we are still stuck at around 10% in the opinion polls. The other two main parties are totally split on Europe, The Tories are led by a Remainer who leads a party whose members seem resolutely Leave supporters. Labour, on the other hand is led by a Leaver but whose parliamentary party is overwhelmingly Remain supporters.
Theresa May will do anything to avoid a general election (and possibly resulting loss of power) and but has failed to find a sensible way forward that suits the remainers in her party.
Jeremy Corbyn (if he ever escapes the anti-Semitism row) has been steadfastly against a second referendum but there are significant voices now urging him to think again on this.
It is not inconceivable that the government may be defeated on a vote on Europe in the Commons and would be faced with a choice of calling a general election before the end of March or agreeing to hold a second referendum to decide on our future in or out of Europe. This might also be followed by a general election in which Labour would hope to gain power without having taken a definitive stand on Europe which might divide their party.
Either way, neither of the two main parties has provided any real leadership on Europe and the one party that is absolutely solid on Europe (apart from UKIP) is being ignored. The Lib Dems have a fight on our hands if we are ever to make our voices heard on Europe before it is too late.