I am strongly of the opinion that the “leave” campaign must be led by people who are wholly committed to Britain leaving the EU. This may sound self-evident, but those of us who set this modest bar are already being accused of “infighting” for questioning whether Lord Lawson, who has so far only said that he would “leave” an “unreformed EU”, is an appropriate spokesman for the “leave” campaign.
This is unacceptable. An elite institution such as the SAS, for instance, has requirements for entry that must be met in order to gain admission. The servicemen who do not make the grade are not entitled to insist that the bar be lowered to accomodate their insufficient capabilities. This is not the SAS, of course, and Dr Richard’s North’s emphasis on self-starters who define their own level of involvement means that, in theory, there is a place for everybody in the EU referendum campaign. Qualifying to become a Brexiteer requires only that you are committed to achieving Britain’s exit from the European Union. How much you contribute and at what level is a determination that each individual will have to make for his or her self.
…from pig to man, and from man to pig…
The propositions on the ballot paper are “leave” and “remain”. There is no “reform”. Moreover, there is no EU “reform” that could ever satisify our demand for the return of independent self-government to the people and institutions of the country that we call home. We who advocate that Britain “leave” the EU do so not out of any misbegotten animosity towards the people or peoples of any other European nation-state, but because we fundamentally reject the principle of supranational (“above the nation”) governance upon which the EU is founded. Brexiteers do not think of leaving the EU from an introverted or an isolationist perspective, but recognise that Brexit is the only realistic means of achieving a lasting new relationship for Britain with the EU, based on international trade and intergovernmental co-operation.
We will not be able to stop people who do not share our principles— “eurosceptic” Tory politicians among them—from jumping on the Brexit bandwagon once we start the wheels turning, but we are not obliged to let any of them inside the tent. Those who say that “reform” is their first priority or who will only commit to leaving an “unreformed EU” exclude themselves. I see no reason why we should seek refuge in the false security of consensus when to do so would undermine the principles upon which our pragmatic position rests.
To that end, Anthony Scholefield’s Futurus think-tank hosts several briefing papers on its website. The paper titled, ‘Mistaken Assumptions of the EU Referendum Battle’ expresses the view that I have attempted to explicate (above) with tremendous clarity: “The referendum is about [the choice to] ‘remain or leave’ the European Union, not choosing between an ‘unreformed’ and ‘reformed’ European Union”. I recommend reading all of the briefings on the Futurus website. For those who are new to the EU debate, the papers explain many of the key issues in a bite-size form, and, for those of us who have vast stores of information about the EU and its assorted institutions and arrangements knocking around inside our heads, the papers are charmingly straightforward, without being simplistic.
With that in mind, I return to the introductory topic: How much do the positions of Tory Party peer, Lord Lawson, who says that he favours leaving an “unreformed EU”, and the position of Tory Party leader and Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron, who says that “I want a relationship between Britain and the EU that keeps us in it”, really differ? Putting statements from the two men side by side indicates the claim that the Tories are “split” on the issue of Britain’s EU membership is fantasy. The ‘mood music’ may be different, but both of these men are singing from the same hymn sheet. Their first preference is “reform”, but, if they cannot achieve that, then they will accept the second-best option, which is to “leave” the EU.
“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which”.
Are we to believe that there is some strange alchemy that allows hack journalists to determine that the europhile Prime Minister is simply indulging in a bit of convenient political positioning while one of his lieutenants, Lord Lawson, is a reliable ally of the “leave” campaign whom we should trust to give us direction?
As I have mentioned several times already and will mention many more times still, that is not how referendums work. Referendums are an opportunity for the people to give direction to government. What the politicians say or think is of no more importance than what your average man or woman on the street says or thinks. In fact, it is worth considerably less; there are only 650 of them, there are more than 30 million of us. We have no need of “pigs” who want to boss us about. The matter of whether Britain should “leave” or “remain” in the EU is for us to decide amongst ourselves.
Brexiteers do not accept that leaving the EU is the “second-best” option. We think that leaving the EU is the opportunity of a lifetime.