I suppose that it seems to me to be about as likely that Britain will leave the EU as it is that Britain will repeal the smoking ban.
It’s not going to happen. Or at least not any time soon.
The way I see it, once things are made into law, it’s very difficult to unmake them. Or, to put it another way, the status quo possesses its own inertia: if things have been going in the same direction for a long time, it’s very difficult to change direction. And so even if there are strong forces acting to get Britain out of the EU, there are equally strong forces acting to keep it in.
The Remainers haven’t given up. And they’re a very powerful force in Parliament. And also in the House of Lords. And throughout the British government. And of course the EU doesn’t want Britain to leave either.
The Remainers wish to maintain the status quo, and in this respect they have a powerful advantage. It’s always much easier to keep things exactly as they are than it is to change them. Changing things requires work: keeping things the same doesn’t.
Nevertheless, even when things are kept the same, pressures slowly build up. And inside the EU, pressures have slowly been building up since its inception. And the principal pressure is the natural desire of people everywhere to govern themselves, and not be governed by remote, faceless, and unrepresentative bureaucrats. It’s exactly this desire that powered the American revolution in 1765, as Americans fought for self-government, and to escape from the British Empire. And the EU is a new European empire, one of a long succession of empires. And in all these empires there always build up centrifugal forces that act to tear them apart, and usually eventually do so. They seldom last longer than a few hundred years. They seem to last longest if they grow slowly, and the EU is showing signs of having grown too fast. And it’s this rapid expansion that has also set up internal stresses within it.
One big difference between Britain leaving the EU, and Britain repealing the smoking ban, is that there are a lot of people who want the former, and very few who want the latter. After all, most people in Britain don’t smoke, and so were never directly affected by the smoking ban. And only those smokers who went to pubs and clubs were directly affected by the ban. It was only those smokers who went to their local pubs to sit and drink beer and smoke cigarettes who were most strongly impacted: they were the ones who found themselves exiled to the outdoors on 1 July 2007. And nobody (or almost nobody) spoke up for this minority. They were almost entirely voiceless, and entirely powerless.
But that’s really exactly what Americans were finding back in about 1700. They were voiceless and powerless in the corridors of power in London. Nobody (or hardly anybody) spoke up for them. But it was precisely this voicelessness and powerlessness that generated the slowly mounting pressure that eventually culminated in the American revolution.
And the same is going to happen with smokers all over the world who find themselves voiceless and powerless in the face of the now-global empire of Tobacco Control. And this is an empire which has grown far more rapidly than even the EU. The EU expanded to its current size over about 50 or 60 years. The empire of Tobacco Control has expanded to its current global dimensions in only 20 or 30 years. And both expanded in exactly the same way: by signing treaties. The empire of Tobacco Control came into existence when some 168 countries became signatories to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, leaving only a handful outside. It’s very arguably both the largest and fastest-growing empire in human history:
The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is a treaty adopted by the 56th World Health Assembly held in Geneva, Switzerland on 21 May 2003. It became the first World Health Organization treaty adopted under article 19 of the WHO constitution. The treaty came into force on 27 February 2005. It had been signed by 168 countries and is legally binding in 181 ratifying countries.
In such manner are tyrannies born: with the stroke of a pen. And it’s a global tyranny which will only end when every single one of those countries revokes its signature.
But, once enacted in law, nearly everywhere in the world, it becomes very difficult to reverse direction. For all laws are intended to have an inertia that makes them difficult to change, because otherwise the law would be changed every day, and become as fickle as the wind. It’s also why laws are very often written in stone: they are intended to never be changed. It’s going to take a long time to destroy the upstart global empire of Tobacco Control
So also when Britain entered the EU, the treaty that was signed became written in stone, and Britain is going to have a long struggle before it manages to escape from the EU. Remaining is far more likely than Leaving.