Leading article

We want an EU referendum, not a scare-story contest

23 April 2016

9:00 AM

23 April 2016

9:00 AM

So far the campaign for the EU referendum has resembled a contest as to which side can spin the most lurid and least plausible horror stories. On the one hand, the ‘in’ campaign claims that we’ll be £4,300 worse off if we leave; that budget airlines will stop serving Britain and that we will become more prone to terror attacks. Not to be outdone, the ‘out’ side warns that we will be crushed by a fresh avalanche of regulation and immigration, and more prone to terror attacks.

The tone of the debate was summed up by Michael Gove this week when he accused the ‘in’ campaign of treating the public like children by spinning stories of bogeymen — only then to claim that voting to remain in the EU would leave us like ‘hostages locked in the back of the car’. The Justice Secretary, like his opponents, should know that such exaggerations weaken his overall case. Britain has been creating more jobs than the rest of Europe put together, which suggests it isn’t exactly a ‘hostage’.

As Martin Vander Weyer points out on page 30, the truth suits neither side: the truth is we just don’t know. A Treasury that cannot forecast six months in advance asks to be taken seriously about what it thinks will happen 15 years’ hence. The ‘leave’ campaign ought to admit that the whole European project might collapse even if we stay, and there will be a fresh chance to improve the terms of our membership when the French and Germans next ask for change to the EU treaty. Britain has, over the years, done well at dodging the worst of the nonsense from Brussels. Yet this fact is ignored by a ‘remain’ side which denies the nonsense, and the ‘leave’ side that denies the dodging.


The decision to stay or to leave in itself will make little difference to Britain’s prosperity, nor its ability to fight terrorism. Migration will carry on apace in either scenario, especially with a Living Wage of £9 an hour acting as a magnet to the workers of the world. Brushing over these basic points will ultimately do neither side any good. Nor will unfounded scare stories withstand another two months of scrutiny. The side which will ultimately prevail is the one that retains the most credibility, and which can excite us about what might be done with either our continued membership or our newfound freedom.

While both sides deserve criticism for their tactics so far, the report published this week by the Treasury deserves special condemnation — not least because it was published using public money. The analysis, to which George Osborne has put his signature, is perhaps the most dishonest document ever produced by HM Treasury. Deception after deception was deployed to manufacture a £4,300 figure: GDP was dressed up as household income, a rise was dressed up as a fall. Using honest methods it would be closer to £1,480 — which is startling enough. But the Chancellor, like Gordon Brown, dislikes using an honest figure if he thinks he can get away with a bigger dishonest one.

The whole exercise is undermined by the Chancellor’s admission in 2010 that the Treasury really wasn’t much good at economic forecasting. The failure of Gordon Brown’s Treasury to foresee the last recession was one of the reasons Osborne set up the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to take over the job of producing economic forecasts. He said the OBR would be able to do the job better because it was ‘immune to the temptations of the political cycle’ — temptations which he now seems incapable of resisting. It is as if the Chancellor is trying to remind us why he can’t be trusted with forecasts.

If the ‘remain’ and ‘leave’ camps want to project a more positive message they should make a case showing how we could more successfully emulate the likes of Canada and the US — either through continued EU membership or through a new life outside. It is easy to get wrapped up in issues of migration, daft rules and regulations, arrest warrants and so on, but unquestionably the biggest issue facing the world at present is that of low economic growth and the stalling of global trade. And the extent to which Britain, if it stays in the EU, can persuade the continent to be less protectionist and more globally minded.

And the ‘out’ side would do better to try and paint a picture of how Britain would fare outside the EU. The ‘leave’ campaign’s inability to articulate a clear alternative is baffling when a new set of rules is clearly defined by the World Trade Organisation. Yes, this would subject our exports to a tariff averaging about 4 per cent. Irksome, but perhaps more than offset by a fall in the pound. Yes, we would probably negotiate a better deal. But for the (many) voters curious about ‘what out looks like’, isn’t it right to explore the worst-case scenario?

There are still eight weeks until the referendum: it is, perhaps, not too late to hope that the two campaigns will start treating voters as adults; that they will drop the scare stories and discuss how economic growth can best be promoted. We will have a better debate, and consequently end up with a better answer on 23 June.

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Show comments
  • Richard Lally

    It would be well if the debate could be less passionate but I don’t see how it can be.
    The fact is that many, perhaps most, Outers are genuinely passionate in their hatred of “Brussels”.
    Although Iners tend to start off fairly Corbyn-like (“on balance we are better off in”), the viciousness of the Outers provokes an equally emotional response.

    • Space 1999

      We are understandable peeved about having our democracy taken away from us, without ever being asked. It has been presented as a fait accompli. That’s what’s so frustrating.

      • Richard Lally

        Your language reveals the emotional basis of your argument. Our government AGREED to let some decisions be taken at a European level, but you choose to describe this as “taken away from us”.

        • mike53

          You are on drug`s….the last three comments by you are total nonsense.

          • Disqus Bolloqus

            Thus proving the OP’s points

        • TurnedOutNiceAgain

          “Our government AGREED to let some decisions be taken at a European level” the point is, WITHOUT ASKING US as Space correctly asserts

          • TurnedOutNiceAgain

            …….sovereignty belongs to the people, it’s not the government’s to give away

          • Richard Lally

            You don’t the constitution.
            Sovereignty belongs to parliament not “the people”.

          • Richard Lally

            We live in a parliamentary democracy. The elected government has the right to make these decisions. If you disapprove of this you shouldn’t be complaining about “Brussels” you should be advocating a revolution in England!

          • Andrew Cole

            Most of us have said this for a long time. While people like you call us all racists and bigots we have never been complaining about the people who have come here, we have been complaining about the system that enabled them to come hear and the system that then told us we were lying as we lost our jobs to agency workers.

    • Andrew Cole

      The problem is that both sides want to pidgeon-hole all those that are voting the other way.

      If you are voting to leave you hate foreigners and are a little Englander.
      If you are voting to remain you are a brainwashed lefty that is easily scared by the thought of leaving Nurse.

      The truth is that each side may well have some that are of those views however there is a broad spectrum of views and reasoning on each side of this argument.

      It won’t stop them though. They got a result in Scotland and nothing will convince either side that scare stories are not the way forward. We are after all continuing on that slope of American influence and there is not much else but scare stories in politics that side of the Atlantic.

  • Boleslaw Bierut

    Truth is we do know that out of EU Brits will be spared directives and laws cooked up by unelected bunch of diverse international eurocrats.

    • Richard Lally

      I am really bored of Brussels-haters calling the EU unelected as if it was a fact. Yes the bureaucrats are “unelected” but so are the bureaucrats of Whitehall.
      If anything the EU is more democratic than Britain because the EU parliament is elected by proportional representation whereas the government of Britain gets complete power even though more than 60% of the population does not support it!

      • Space 1999

        You need to go and do some more homework. The European ‘Parliament’ has almost no ability to make, repeal or amend laws – it is not a ‘parliament’ in the correct sense of the word. The law makers in Brussels are the unelected European Commisison; in the UK they are our elected MPs – or at least they are proposed by them, and voted on by our elected MPs. The first-past-the-post system gives a direct democratic link to these MPs.

        • Richard Lally

          I agree that the European Parliament should have more power. And do you know which country leads the objections to that? Britain!

          • 22-11-63

            You agree with yourself?

        • 22-11-63

          I think Richard Lilly is suffering from stockholm syndrome.

      • Boleslaw Bierut

        I mean commissioners, not civil servants. It’s them that make laws.

      • sfin

        Except the Executive – i.e. the ones who really matter, the ones with the actual power, the government, if you like, i.e. the Commission, the only body who can actually make law…

        …are entirely unelected.

        • Richard Lally

          They are appointed by the governments of the countries via the mechanism of the Council of Ministers. This is not in any meaningfully sense “unelected”, no more so than the fact that the British Cabinet is selected by the PM and not elected.
          If your criticisms were valid the British government would be just as invalid as the EU government.
          You Brexiters are the all the same: you make up all sorts garbage untruths about Brussels and then decide because “Brussels” is this evil thing you have made up we should no longer co-operate with all those horrible Europeans!

          • sfin

            I’m sorry but this is disingenuous, at best.

            The vast majority of a British cabinet (appointed Lords excepting) have to run the gamut of a hustings – i.e. they have to be elected MPs.

            The EU Commission is appointed by by national governments, and we in the UK have a tradition of appointing politicians who have either been rejected by the electorate (Kinnock, Patten) or who have been disgraced whilst in office (Mandelson).

            The last EU ‘foreign minister’ Catherine “Baroness” Ashton, achieved enormous power and influence without once subjecting herself to an electorate.

            Our own ‘representative’ democracy is already stretching the limits of the definition of the word (especially with Prime Ministerial patronage). The EU, simply takes the p*ss.

      • polidorisghost

        What exactly is the difference between “elected” and elected?

    • Roger Hudson

      What on earth does that mean?

      • Boleslaw Bierut

        Think!

    • Disqus Bolloqus

      Wanna bet? In or Out our laws and policies will continue to be determined by global banks and businesses.

      • Boleslaw Bierut

        So, if it makes no difference why pay EU for this pleasure?

        • Disqus Bolloqus

          I suppose it comes down to who you think can make the best deal with the Coroporate Gods, the U.K. or E.U. government, and if the later, is the price worth paying? Truth is no one knows the answer with certainty, as it’s impossible to prove a counter factual. All there is are opinions, speculation, and of course scare mongering.

          • Boleslaw Bierut

            Opinions, of course, what else? They wish for nation states to die while in my opinion it’s impossible, especially in Europe. Plus: Why pay for membership in a club that give you almost nothing in return?

          • Disqus Bolloqus

            Globalisation could see the death of nation states regardless of the existence of EU. In fact globalisation could destroy trading blocs such as the EU. The nation state is not a natural phenomenon Or God given. It is a political structure that emerged and has propelled world events and development for a millennium. Prior to the national state were the classical empires, such as Rome, and city states, prior to that nomadic tribes and isolated groups. The tide of history waits for no man. Who knows the future of the nation state?

          • Boleslaw Bierut

            Yes, you don’t know, I don’t know and it’s anybody’s guess. BUT right now no European nation state wishes to disappear in a maze thought up by unaccountable commissioners in EU Politburo.

  • Polly Radical

    Greece tried having a calm and rational discussion about and with the EU . . . look how that ended up.

    The more visceral emotion the better, at this stage, folks.

  • Migru Ghee

    British voters are a complacent breed. People do not respond to good news stories here, good news is no news. Fearmongering works with the lower voting caste – when the banker tells you your pension isn’t safe and food prices will go up, that’s it. Game over. The nation of betting shop shoppers keep playing it safe, why should it be different this time.

    • Disqus Bolloqus

      Worry when the bank tells you your pension is safe!

      • Migru Ghee

        Good one.

  • Pretty_Polly

    This is a brilliant essay about Mohammed and Fritz’s differing ideas about their retirement plans, each thinking the other will pay. If circulated to every home in Britain, Leave would probably win.

    ‘The Death of Europe’..

    http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/260511/death-europe-daniel-greenfield

    Please note the final paragraph of the link which reads..

    ‘Europe is drinking rat poison to cure a cold. Instead of changing its values, it’s trying to maintain them by killing itself. The Mohammed retirement plan won’t save European socialism. It will bury it’.

    • Disqus Bolloqus

      With a slogan ‘INSIDE EVERY LIBERAL IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT’, any following opinion or analysis can safely be ignored as being completely non-objective.

      • Florence in Florence

        Can it?

        Every assertion stands on it’s own merits.

        Maybe you can pick some holes in others..

        • Disqus Bolloqus

          Can it? Yes, it can

          • Florence in Florence

            That looks like an excuse because you dislike the conclusion of the essay.

            Anyway, is it not true that ‘Liberals’ like to control many aspects of societal behaviour, and consequently the statement is actually quite reasonable?

          • Disqus Bolloqus

            No it is not true. If an individual or institution likes to control aspects of societal behaviour, that are by definition not liberal. More likely they will be Conservatives, Nationalists or Socialists.

          • Florence in Florence

            Oh so you mean the Liberal Democrats who appear very keen on laws and regulations to control societal behaviour have the wrong name?

          • Disqus Bolloqus

            Probably they do. Incidentally all British political parties seek to control societal behaviours. What you seem to mean is that you disagree with the way that the Liberal Democrats want to do that. I imagine (but do not know) that you probably agree with the ways in which at least one of the other Parties seek to control societal behaviours. If not I imagine you must be an anarchist.

          • Florence in Florence

            So the Liberal Party also had the wrong name in your view all the way back to at least the beginning of the 20th century?

          • Disqus Bolloqus

            Probably, just as the Conservstive Party does not conserve, and the Labour Party does not represent labour.

          • Florence in Florence

            Okkaay, so all British political parties have the wrong names and true liberals are anarchists in your view.

            If liberals are anarchists, does that not mean they are also totalitarian in a real sense because they recognize no limits to their authority through their desire to sweep away all laws which control society?

          • Disqus Bolloqus

            Surely anarchists cannot be totalitarian, as they believe there should not be any government or central authority, or any rules or laws. For totalitarianism to exist there needs to be a strong central authority, which would seem to be the exact opposite of anarchy.

            Surely liberals should support the rule of law, but minimise the number of laws that restrict people in behaving and living their lives as they chose with minimal interference from the state. Thus a Liberal would support laws prohibiting murder, rape, violent crime, theft, and other laws to maintain public safety, but would oppose laws that restricted how people led their private lives, how they educated their children, how they spent and invested their money, etc.

          • Pretty_Polly

            It seems to me that anarchists must be totalitarian if they want to sweep away the whole panoply of the state because to do so is exercising a radical form of authority over those who will inevitably oppose them.

            Consequently it also seems to me that if pure liberals are anarchists, then the statement in the linked article which you disliked is in fact correct.

          • Disqus Bolloqus

            Liberals aren’t anarchist. I don’t know why you think that.

            Anarchist want to destroy authority, not to replace it.

          • Pretty_Polly

            I thought you suggested above that pure liberals are anarchists and actually I think they probably are exactly that.

            The whole issue is quite interesting because it all goes round in a very pleasing circle.

            To destroy authority is going to require a powerful form of authority in itself to overcome inevitable opposition.

            Anyway, it’s all very theoretical and that’s all I have time for right now.

            Have a pleasant evening 🙂

  • It might help is the media stopped treating their readers like children, and acknowledged the existence of a perfectly adequate “leave” plan … called Flexcit:

    http://www.eureferendum.com/Flexcit.aspx

    The problem is not the lack of a plan, but the media’s bizarre refusal to recognise it, even though its been downloaded by 60,000 people.

    • Disqus Bolloqus

      That is just more speculation. There cannot be a plan because we have not negotiated terms of withdrawal with the EU, nor negotiated what (if any) trade agreements will replace those currently in existence with the EU and the rest of the World. Nor do we know what the Government’s policies will be in terms of immigration, regulations, human rights, to name just a few hot topics. Nor do we know what Government will emerge if Cameron-Osborne fall on their swords.

      • WFC

        I applaud your ability to read a 400 page document in a few minutes.

        • Disqus Bolloqus

          I’ve seen the document before so your barbed comment is misdirected. However my comments would stand regardless of it’s content. There cannot be a Brexit plan for the reasons I state.

          • WFC

            Which of the options stated in that document are unrealistic and why?

          • Disqus Bolloqus

            It’s unrealistic because the authors are not in a position to implement it. My point therefore is it cannot be described as a ‘plan’. It is a policy proposal. Whatever happens post Brexit will depend on two factors:-

            (1) The nature of the British Government that emerges from the political chaos that follows an Out vote. I cannot see Cameron-Osborne surviving. Will the Conservatives be able to find a unifying leader and remain in power? Is there a risk of a vote of no confidence, and an emergency election?

            (2) The attitude of the EUand Rest of World. Agreements involve at least two parties. The EU and RoW may not wish to reach agreements with UK on the basis described in the document.

          • WFC

            I agree that neither the authors (nor Vote Leave) are going to decide the basis upon which we leave – which makes it odd that they are the only ones being asked this – but Flexit examines and discusses all the possible scenarios.

            Unless you think there is one he has missed.

            AIUI the civil service considered Flexit to be a very useful starting point in drawing up their contingency plans for a leave vote.

          • Disqus Bolloqus

            One possibility it ignores is what I call the ‘1945’ scenario. In 1945 Churchill won a war and Atlee introduced the Welfare state. It is distinctly possible (though perhaps not probable) that following Brexit, the Government falls due to infighting in the Conservative Party and an ’emergency’ general election follows. It is not inconceivable that the outcome could be no overall control, but that Labour and SNP are able to form a coalition. The Tory majority is slim, and all Labour need to do is to win back sufficient seats in England to prevent a Tory majority. Such a Government is likely to negotiate terms that in all but name will result in Britain continuing in all but name as a member of the EU in terms of trade, immigration, budget contributions, harmonisation of regulations, etc. Perhaps the EU may even carry out more general reforms, and a second referendum held asking the nation if they wish to rejoin. I would rule out nothing.

            There is a worrying complacency in the Brexit campaign that the post referendum period in the event of an Out vote would see the introduction of their favoured nationalistic and neo-liberal agendas. If Brexit is the result all bets are off and we will enter uncharted waters, where the course of travel and destination are unknown.

    • Florence in Florence

      It would be interesting if you could expand your views about the sort of people who read The Spectator, the majority of whom appear to support ‘Leave’.

      Your previous post in context suggested that perhaps you might not have a high opinion of such individuals.

      ‘That says a great deal about the Spectator readership’.

    • WFC

      It is astonishing how that continues to be ignored by the media. It’s not as if it isn’t referenced, constantly, below the line.

      Which option do you believe the government will go for?

      My guess would be EFTA/EEA.

  • sfin

    Hear! Hear! Speccie.

    The question on the ballot paper should be simply:

    Do you want to live in a democracy, or not?

    • Florence in Florence

      How about..

      ”Do you wish Britain to be an independent nation and to make all her own laws according to the wishes of the British people?’

      • rtj1211

        Well that won’t happen with the current Constitutional arrangements as the wishes of the British People are never truly represented in the House of Commons so laws being made are not subject to the scrutiny of the wishes of the British people, nor are the laws passed reflective of the wishes of the British People.

        I”m not supporting the EU, I’m demolishing your thesis……

        • Pretty_Polly

          I don’t think you’ve demolished anything as the idea was a suggestion.

    • Disqus Bolloqus

      The referendum is on membership of EU, not FPTP which allows a majority Government to be elected on the basis of receiving votes of 25% of the electorate.

      • WFC

        And on what % of the received votes of the electorate was the European Commission elected?

        • Disqus Bolloqus

          And does that make our election process democractic?

          • WFC

            It makes it more democratic than the oligarchic EU.

          • Disqus Bolloqus

            But hardly truely democractic

          • WFC

            If you want perfection, you’d better hope there is a heaven. In the meantime, we remain in a world where “better” must do in place of “perfect”.

          • Disqus Bolloqus

            We could do much better. Proportional representation and devolved power to a local level for starters

  • Quick question, when it The Spectator is the author of an article, does that mean that Andrew Neil wrote a piece? He’s the CEO after all.

  • congreve

    This is the second wretched plebiscite to be sprung on the British people in under two years. Why not have a third, on the Monarchial Succession, for example?

    There is nothing in our constitution that empowers vox pleb to have any direct influence on the conduct of affairs; and rightly so.

  • Chingford Man

    “we will be crushed by a fresh avalanche of regulation and immigration, and more prone to terror attacks.”

    That is not a scare story. The EU can’t control its external borders and most of the third world is on its way. Why wouldn’t immigration surge? Why wouldn’t those who wish to kill us take advantage of this, as they already have?

    • Disqus Bolloqus

      And why would the immigrants stay at home if we decide to leave the EU. And why would ISIS and other terrorists decide to leave Britain alone if we decide to leave?

      • thomas_paine2

        Because at least OUR politicians and OUR immigration authorities will be held responsible for who enters the country. We can hold them to account. As things stand, they can point the finger at Bruxelles and we are forced to accept that.

        • Disqus Bolloqus

          I think that’s rubbish. Of course our politicians are responsible for controlling our borders.we could stop all immigration from non EU countries today, if we wanted.

          • WFC

            Indeed we could, and people have twice voted for a government which promised to bring immigration down, yet has failed to deliver.

            Not only has it failed to deliver, its dishonest Treasury report assumes that it (and any successors) will also fail to bring down immigration numbers – even from the EU – in the event of a leave vote.

            At least then, however, if that was the case, the fault would lay fairly and squarely at the feet of the British electorate.

      • Chingford Man

        Fatuous nonsense, but to answer your questions:

        1. We would only let into independent Britain the people that we want.
        2. ISIS may not leave us alone, but at least the terrorists that have slipped into Germany will not be coming here when Merkel gives them German citizenship.

        • Disqus Bolloqus

          Dream on…

  • The Dybbuk

    Given that neither side has a case to put that does not insult the intelligence of the electorate perhaps we should mount a special one off version of a gabathon akin to the Eurovision Song Contest instead where Dave and George could go head to head with Boris and Mike both supplemented by their not so close harmony back up tribute bands. After each has done their party piece specially selected regional groups could vote, winner takes all. The virtue of this is that it would save us all the bother of daily listening to the second rate comedy routines being passed off as the case for and against and would save us the trouble of going to the polling station.

    It would also allow us to keep alive the long UK tradition of making fools of ourselves over inconsequential european matters with the prospect of Nul Points for our trouble.

  • Mr Creosote

    Thanks to M Johnson for the following post:

    From 2014 –

    After he picked up an £80,000 prize for an essay on how Britain could leave the European Union, Iain Mansfield was poised to become a new, intellectual voice in the media debate on the Brexit issue.

    The 30-year-old Cambridge graduate was praised by judges of the “Brexit” prize for his “convincing and comprehensive” arguments and the Thatcherite think-tank behind the contest looked forward to him advancing his views in a series of interviews.

    There was one snag, however. Mr Mansfield is a civil servant and his essay appears to have been rather too well-argued for his employer, the UK Government, which remains committed to staying within the EU.

    Having accepted the prize at a ceremony in Westminster on Tuesday evening, Mr Mansfield was told he was banned from giving media interviews. His regular blog on economic affairs also appears to have been removed from the internet.

    “Unfortunately,owing to his work commitments and the sensitivity of his role, Iain Mansfield is unable to engage in any further media work on his winning Brexit entry,” the Institute of Economic Affairs, which organised the prize, said. The move came despite Mr Mansfield making it clear that he had written the essay in a personal capacity, and was advancing the arguments as an intellectual exercise rather than as a policy recommendation

    He had also obtained prior clearance from his employers at the British Embassy in Manila, where he is director of trade and investment. A source told The Telegraph on Thursday night that Mr Mansfield had ended up in a “spot of bother” with his superiors over the essay, and had been put in “lockdown” until further notice.

    The move dismayed the IEA which had hoped that the prize-winning entrants would be able to contribute to the Brexit debate through media appearances.

    “The IEA Brexit Prize was designed to provide an intellectual analysis of a post-referendum UK, not to assess the desirability of a British exit from the EU,” the IEA said. “Iain Mansfield’s winning essay at no point promoted a particular view on the politics of this question and was clearly written in a personal capacity.

    “Given the importance of the arguments in his winning essay to the wider debate on Britain and the EU, it is disappointing that he appears to be prevented from discussing his ideas further.”

    Mr Mansfield,who has a master’s degree from Cambridge and has written a novel, won the prize for an essay titled “Openness not Isolation”. In it, he argued that an exit from the EU should be taken as an opportunity to “embrace openness” that could boost the UK economy by £1.3 billion.

    He said Britain would need to maintain Swiss-style trade ties to the EU, while building closer trade relationships with non-EU countries.

    However, the prospect of his arguments being repeated in the media appeared to have alarmed ministers. Both David Cameron and Nick Clegg have argued that EU membership remains crucial for attracting investment into the UK, at least until a potential referendum in 2017.

    Mr Mansfield did one pre-recorded interview for Radio 4’s Today programme, and then informed the IEA on Wednesday that he could do no more. On Thursday night he was unavailable for comment.

    link to the actual report written by Mansfield

    http://www.iea.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/files/Brexit Entry 170_final_bio_web.pdf

    The link’s worth a read – cuts through the garbage Osbourne and co are throwing out every day..

  • Mr Creosote
  • tim78945

    If your decision, whether in or out, is based on economics, then you missing the whole point of the referendum.

    • thomas_paine2

      I want us to control our own nation and it’s destiny, that is more important than any economic considerations in my opinion, if us wanting to LEAVE stick to that principle and keep the economic arguments on the back burner, moral principle will win the day.

    • Richard Lally

      I completely agree. I know from talking to my European friends and colleagues that it is peculiarly English to think the EU should be simply a free trade area.

  • Shieldsman

    I cannot see how the Government and BSE can start acting honestly, they have no real positives left. They can claim statis quo, but that never has been the aim of the EU. The PM in his three year lead up to the referendum set out the faults (the EU is not working) he saw in the EU and the changes he would make. The Brussels deal was a charade he did not reform the EU there was no Treaty change. The social care emergency brake and the red card will only go before Parliament if we stay in and certain MEP’s have said they will vote against it – so assent is not assured.

    How did David Cameron get himself into this position where he is not allowed to acquiesce to a leave vote being successful? He obviously never had a plan on how to exit the EU. The position is if the vote is to leave Cameron is left holding the baby, he is responsible. Its no good saying we cannot leave because the Brexiteers do not have a plan of which I approve. He has rejected the Norway option as a starting point or a plain EFTA. People can put forward ideas, but it will be up to the Government and whoever is appointed to do the negotiation. Making out it is impossible because he is under orders is a nonsense.

    Painting a black picture with unreal scenarios and not looking at the future in the EU will not convince the Public.
    European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker this week admitted that citizens had lost faith in the EU, during a speech at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

    “One of the reasons why EU citizens are stepping away from the
    European project is due to the fact that we are interfering in too many
    domains of their private lives and in too many domains where member
    states are better placed to take action.”“We were wrong to overregulate and interfere too much in the lives of
    our citizens,” he added, “Today we are facing very tough
    times. We have the global refugee crisis, we have attacks on our free
    societies, all of our institutions are under immense pressure today and
    sometimes are really pushed to their limits.”

    But what can he do about it?

  • Brigantian

    The truth of what will happen if we remain is so bizarre as to be unbelievable rather than scary or frightening. Apart from road pricing and a TV licence for people with no TV, we have the prospect of the country being divided up into the ‘Cities and Regions’, each with its own oligarchy headed by mayors that George Osborne has already started appointing in defiance of local wishes. These cities have apparently already been promised to certain minority groups, along with their appended regions which in many instances have no representatives of those groups. The social engineering to make this possible is now proceeding apace with vast new housing estates springing up around remote market towns for no other purpose than to house those minorities.
    Add to this the fact that rail travel over long distances will soon be reserved for the wealthy and privileged, with non high speed routes reduced to the status of suburban tramways, and the British people face a level of oppression unparalleled in history. The only irony is that Jean Claude Junckers is opposed to this sort of totalitarian socialist dictatorship and sees the only way that the EU as a whole can be protected is by getting the British Labour Party out of Brussels and the socialist bloc.
    Brexit is essential not only for the Freedom of British people but for the Freedom of all the people in Europe.

  • JJD

    It’s all to play for for the Out campaign. If they can just strike a tone that is measured, mature and honest, they could badly show up the government, and change the minds of voters who are still undecided.

    • maic

      I agree. Start treating the voters like adults. Set out the advantages and disadvantages of Leaving in Plain English.
      Make an honest case that given time the disadvantages can be minimised.
      Let the groups supporting Leaving work together in harmony. Having them act as rational and responsible adults genuinely concerned with the welfare of the nation rather than with their own personal promotion will certainly help their cause.
      If they can make an honest, reasonable and believable case they may well stand in stark contrast to the fearmongering and patronising of the other side.
      This issue is of vital importance to Britain and the real tragedy would be if the Leave supporters lost the referendum not because their case was weak but because they muddled and argued among themselves.
      A song once proclaimed, “Britannia Rule the Waves!”
      Britannia no longer rules the waves. The question now is it going to rule itself?

    • Jenny Wren

      “If they can just strike a tone that is measured, mature and honest”…er, good luck with that.

    • Mary Ann

      With Boris, Farage and Putin, dream on.

      • JJD

        Well, yes. Which means it’s all to play for for Out as well. If anything, they’re doing an even worse job.

  • Britain should leave for its own best interests and that of the free world.

    As for Obama, the lame-duck on my current side of the pond (I’m native and proud English, as well as naturalized and proud American): HE SHOULD MIND HIS OWN BLOODY BUSINESS.

    Trust me: we the people (those with any sense, though many do not) have had MORE than enough of the Imperial Affirmative Action President.

    Shut up now, Barry. There’s a good boy.

    • polidorisghost

      Very feisty!

      • Tis I! Are you now fully back in the land of communicado?

        • polidorisghost

          Later today I believe.
          I’m worth the wait.

  • jonlivesey

    There has been a lot of excitement about Obama and his “back of the queue” comment, but has anyone asked him why a separate free trade agreement needs to be negotiated anyway?

    Supposedly, the US-EU free trade agreement protects the interests of a UK inside the EU, so why not a UK outside the EU?

    In other words, run off an extra copy of the US-EU agreement, cross out “US-EU” and write in “US-UK” in crayon, and we are done. It should take about ten minutes.

    • Bonkim

      We may not want tosn up to everything the EU is agreeing to. Britain is not a manufacturing country as for example Germany and France, even Italy. our trading priorities and products/services will be different from that from other EU countries and simply copying the EU/US document may not be appropriate.

  • Toby

    “The side which will ultimately prevail is the one that retains the most
    credibility, and which can excite us about what might be done with
    either our continued membership or our newfound freedom.”

    The result of this referendum might have nothing to do with credibility but more about apathy and/or ignorance. I found unbelievable that people need this campaign to be told or to be sold what the EU is about. If they were interested in their country and its future they should already know.

  • morecakeplease

    Fact: In order to match England’s population density of 413 people per square kilometre, European countries would have to take in the following numbers of migrants:-

    Austria 26.4 million
    Denmark 12.4 million
    France 162.3 million
    Germany 65.6 million
    Greece 42.8 million
    Italy 64.7 million
    Poland 90.5 million
    Romania 79.4 million
    Spain 162.1 million
    Sweden 176.3 million

    Conversely, if England had the same population density as say France, it’s population would be 14.5 million.

    • Alex

      And yet still only 2% of the country is built on.

    • Steve Delahunty

      Great point… It’s my biggest fear… A 21st Century British version of the “Great Irish Famine.” It’s simply dangerously unsustainable…

    • Mary Ann

      Nothing to stop you moving to Scotland if you don’t like crowds, or how about France or Spain and enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle.

      • Steve Delahunty

        Mary Ann… In the 1850s, Ireland’s population was officially 8.2million (unofficially 8.5million). The following 10 years after the Great Irish Famine, the population plummeted to as low as 4.2million… Today in 2016, Eire & N.I. have a combined population of 6.4million… Stick to shopping for shoes…

    • Bonkim

      Britain should plan to reduce its population to less than 15Million over two generations – can only be done if each couple produces only one progeny.

      Start now – getting out of the EU will help.

  • English Aborigine

    Obama must fear that all he has achieved is to awaken a sleeping giant

    • Mary Ann

      The Russian bear is waking up and supporting Brexit, in hope that it leads to the break up of the EU, divided we fall. Russia is also bankrolling Le Pen because she wants to see the break-up of the EU as well.

      • English Aborigine

        The Russian Bear was woken up by the eu and US interference in. The Ukraine

        But you know that

        Russia has a right to protect its borders

  • James Chilton

    We don’t know what the economic consequences will turn out to be whichever way the referendum goes. But this vote isn’t meant simply to settle economic questions. It’s about who governs these islands and under what laws; and it’s about how much say the people will have in deciding matters of national interest.

  • Jenny Wren

    “Is it too late to hope that both sides might start treating voters as adults?”…Yes.

  • Steve Delahunty

    “Freedom has to be fought for, and it is only those who do so, deserve to be free.” ~ Sir James Goldsmith Referendum Party: 1997 election video https://youtu.be/SSXdE8M-9Y4 via @YouTube

  • Steve Delahunty

    Albert Burgess – Unforgivable Treason was Committed by Edward Heath https://youtu.be/EBUO7OhgiKk via @YouTube

  • Steve Delahunty

    Tony Benn speaks in favour of an EU referendum https://youtu.be/jRO4eiK0H0Y via @YouTube

  • Steve Delahunty

    Lindsay Jenkins – EU Began with CIA (Office of Strategic Services) Money https://youtu.be/qXRXuCtriOg via @YouTube

  • Steve Delahunty

    Professor Antony C. Sutton – Bankers, Socialism, The NWO & The State of The World (1976) https://youtu.be/bb5gBsN2FCk via @YouTube

  • Steve Delahunty

    Reflections And Warnings – An Interview With Aaron Russo https://youtu.be/51Xsss_v5IQ via @YouTube

  • Steve Delahunty

    Sir James Goldsmith – Referendum Party Broadcast 15 April 1997 https://youtu.be/-dxZ1MoyXNA via @YouTube

  • Steve Delahunty

    Voting to LEAVE the EU is the most precious gift you can give your children & grandchildren… Priceless…

    • Steve Delahunty

      You can’t put a price on freedom….

  • MrBishi

    The Brexiteers will lose this referendum on a single issue, “honesty”.
    Today they will be warning of the dangers of millions of EU citizens descending on the UK and taking all our jobs, women and houses.
    In fact, even if we leave the EU we cannot legally stop 500 EU citizens from living and working in the UK. And even if we instruct our border guards to stop them, they will come as visitors and no court will expell them.
    http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/RP13-42.pdf
    researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN06089/SN06089.pdf

    • Steve Delahunty

      MrBishi… You’re deluded… And you want everyone to share in your delusion… Because the truth is… You prefer to be enslaved than being free… One strongly suspects that this is because it suits your selfish ends…

      See MrBishi… To Vote LEAVE is not a selfish act, but an act of selflessness… As we have to take into consideration the children, grandchildren & future generations to come…

      Thus the considerations are not for the short-term, but a consideration for the long-term…

      There is a world out there MrBishi… And it is not the totalitarian EU…

      • MrBishi

        Halfwit.

        • Steve Delahunty

          If you go on like this MrBishi… People may suspect you are a parrot… 🙂 lol

          • Steve Delahunty

            Let’s just hope not a “Dead Parrot.” 🙂

    • Steve Delahunty

      The British people will win the EU referendum on the single issue of “Freedom!”

      • MrBishi

        Freedom to lose your working rights?

        • Steve Delahunty

          A name came into my head…. Mahatma Gandhi… I wonder why?

          • MrBishi

            You are a halfwit?

          • Steve Delahunty

            I guess you would say the same of Mahatma Gandhi… And NO, I’m NOT a halfwit or any other insult you care to pass…

            The mere fact you resort to insults is because you simply have NO argument against the truth…

            Freedom!

          • MrBishi

            When I call you a halfwit, it’s a compliment.

          • Steve Delahunty

            Really? Very kind…

    • I want to leave this planet.

      We can change laws to suit after we leave.

      • MrBishi

        No we can’t, read the advice to parliament.

        • Steve Delahunty

          Rules are there to broken…. Especially the bad ones…

          • MrBishi

            Halfwit.

          • Steve Delahunty

            No… Just being honest x

          • MrBishi

            An honest halfwit?
            There are some tensions there.

          • Steve Delahunty

            I’m relaxed… Enjoying watching your imaginings…

          • Steve Delahunty

            Do politicians break any rules? MrBishi, have you ever broken a rule?

          • MrBishi

            You are a halfwit, the UK floats on a sea of laws.

          • Steve Delahunty

            Didn’t answer the question…

  • Steve Delahunty

    I’s just a shame Jeremy Corbyn didn’t stick to his principles – Jeremy Corbyn Opposes the EU https://youtu.be/sJSiwNWb7pY via @YouTube

  • Steve Delahunty

    Referendum Party: 1997 election video https://youtu.be/SSXdE8M-9Y4 via @YouTube

  • Steve Delahunty

    Albert Burgess – Unforgivable Treason was Committed by Edward Heath https://youtu.be/EBUO7OhgiKk via @YouTube

  • Steve Delahunty

    Tony Benn speaks in favour of an EU referendum https://youtu.be/jRO4eiK0H0Y via @YouTube

  • Steve Delahunty

    Lindsay Jenkins – EU Began with CIA (Office of Strategic Services) Money https://youtu.be/qXRXuCtriOg via @YouTube

  • Steve Delahunty

    Professor Antony C. Sutton – Bankers, Socialism, The NWO & The State of The World (1976) https://youtu.be/bb5gBsN2FCk via @YouTube

  • Steve Delahunty

    Reflections And Warnings – An Interview With Aaron Russo https://youtu.be/51Xsss_v5IQ via @YouTube

  • Steve Delahunty

    “Freedom has to be fought for, and it is only those who do so deserve to be free.” ~ Sir James Goldsmith – Referendum Party Broadcast 15 April 1997 https://youtu.be/-dxZ1MoyXNA via @YouTube

  • Steve Delahunty

    I’m being genuinely honest here, if it wasn’t for Prime Minister David Cameron, we would not be enjoying this opportunity to exercise our rights. So I’m grateful and give thanks. Vote leave! #NotForgotten

    • Bertie

      “If it wasn’t for David Cameron….etc.”

      You’re having a laugh – he was forced into it by the migration of Tory supporters to UKIP. If UKIP hadn’t done so well in successive European elections he wouldn’t have given us the opportunity at all.

      So it’s thanks to Farage and UKIP that we have this referendum and no thanks to the dishonest Cameron who campaigns to remain – pretty obvious where his loyalties have been.

      Thanks for your faux “honesty” as well!!! Quite hilarious.

      I’m a Tory by the way before you try any smearing as a diversion..

  • Steve Delahunty

    Gustav Holst – The Planets – Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity https://youtu.be/Nz0b4STz1lo via @YouTube #Brexit

  • Bonkim

    We don’t know – but we can adapt and change outside the EU better than within. Britain has always adapted and the can-do spirit which Obama made much of is still there.. Britain is bad in cooperating with the inept – so best to get out and chart our own course despite the uncertainties.

    • Steve Delahunty

      “Our knowledge can only be finite, while our ignorance must necessarily be infinite” ~ Karl Popper

    • Steve Delahunty

      Basically, if you don’t try… You don’t get…

    • Steve Delahunty

      Meaning: what you think is the right course, may not necessarily be the right course… Only time will tell…

  • Steve Delahunty

    Sir Winston Churchill – Address To Harrow School https://youtu.be/Ydi_KGXA9lk via @YouTube

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