One of the easiest ways to promote yourself and your purported cause is to tell your audience what you think they want to hear. For instance, if you tell Brexiteers that Mr Cameron has “no plan”, that the “renegotiation” is going very badly and that the Prime Minister’s demands amount to “nothing” then you are affirming your audiences’ prejudices and essentially pushing at an open door. If instead you tell Brexiteers that Mr Cameron is a capable political operator who has a devious strategy to convince the crucial 30 percent of undecided referendum voters, who are concerned about further EU integration yet fear exit, that Britain’s continued EU membership will be as part of a “reformed EU” in which Britain is not bound by “ever closer union” or further demands on non-eurozone participants then the door is much harder to budge.
The eurosceptic aristocracy associated with Vote Leave have convinced themselves that the Prime Minister’s proposals for “reform” amount to “nothing” and that “voting to leave” is “when associate status will be put on the table”. Consider for a moment whether a campaign group that invariably prefaces the word “leave” with the word “vote” and talks in favourable terms about “associate status” is an appropriate vehicle for achieving permanent Brexit. Also consider whose interests this narrative promotes and what the impact is likely to be should Mr Cameron successfully agree an “associate membership” deal with the EU. Remember, the hero must first suffer setbacks in order that his final victory be that much more triumphant.
For what it is worth, I think it is very likely that Mr Cameron will agree a “new relationship” for Britain with the EU and that the new deal will involve Britain becoming a second-tier member within a “reformed EU”. Mr Cameron’s four “areas of discussion” in his letter to Donald Tusk signal the Prime Minister’s willingness to accept a second-class role for Britain within a two-tier EU.
That being the case, given that underestimating what the PM is likely to deliver is counter-productive, I have heard people ask, what line do you suggest that Brexiteers take? My answer is as follows: Cameron is worse than Heath. Ted Heath took Britain into the then EEC because he was convinced that Britain needed to be at the heart of “Europe” in order to play a full role in shaping European institutions alongside our continental partners. I think that Heath was mistaken but even his outdated vision is absent from the Cameron worldview.
Mr Cameron has given every indication that he will assent to a proposal that previous British governments have rejected on the basis that such a deal would be an unacceptable “compromise”. The proposed deal outlined in the Bertelsmann/Spinelli, A Fundamental Law, would involve Britain remaining subordinate to EU institutions, without global influence in the intergovernmental forums that determine more than 80 percent of Single Market regulations and without even a full seat at the heart of the sub-regional EU. To add insult to injury, the former PR man will imply that acceptance of third-class country status and second-class EU membership will result in Britain leading the outer-tier. Does Mr Cameron’s ambition know no bounds?
Small-minded conformists like David Cameron may be willing to submit to supranational EU governance and a subordinate role for Britain in global affairs, but no self-respecting man or woman accepts that their country should be run by anybody other than their fellow countrymen. In other words, Mr Cameron’s aims are not meaningless or pointless, they are far worse; “associate membership”—or what Mr Cameron has the nerve to call “a British model of membership”—means remaining isolated within “little Europe” while the rest of the world moves on.
The idea that this is a “moderate” position is absurd. The deal that David Cameron has given the green light is one that Edward Heath regarded as unacceptable for Britain. Yes, that Edward Heath. As is noted in The Official History of Britain and the European Community, Vol. II: From Rejection to Referendum, 1963-1975 (Government Official History Series), written by former diplomat, Stephan Wall, the “associate membership” idea was rejected by Heath in 1963, after De Gaulle’s first veto, on the grounds that such a relationship “would not enable Britain to take any part in shaping the Community’s policies and the government should be wary of being enticed into so weak a position” (Source: EUReferendum.com).
There is your alternative narrative Brexiteers; David Cameron is even less concerned about defending the British national interest than Edward Heath. As part of an attempt to save his political bacon, in a referendum that he hoped he would never have to deliver, David Cameron has given a green light to Britain’s total submission to EU authority.