Humour me for a moment. Instead of deciding whether you favour an EU membership referendum on the basis of which way you think it would go, ask yourself whether it is right in principle.
If this isn’t a suitable question to put to the country, it’s hard to think what is. It’s a major constitutional issue, of the kind that Bagehot, Dicey and Erskine May would have seen as suitable for a plebiscite. It divides the parties internally, and so can’t easily be settled at a general election. And – not least – all three parties were recently promising one.
People used occasionally to argue that referendums were un-British, that they might do for hot countries whose leaders wore sunglasses, but that they were incompatible with parliamentary sovereignty. That argument has been overtaken by events. Before 1997, the United Kingdom had held four referendums: one each in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the 1975 poll on EU membership. Since then, we have had a further 47, mainly at local level. It is asinine to insist that Britain needed a vote on the method by which we elect our MPs, but not on whether those MPs run the country.