The Remain camp has finally crossed the line
OK this is important.
Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting in the garden on my Twitter phone app when I had an epiphany.
The tipping point for me was a set of comments made by the WTO director general Roberto Azevedo (none of these international interventions get out without liaison with Downing Street — hold that thought). In some ways, his comments need not detain us — as I say, it was a tipping point and the thing about tipping points is that the final event reaching the tipping point can sometimes be quite small. But I’ll tell you anyway:
Secessionists of the world take note (that includes you Nicola Sturgeon). You can now no longer secede from anything — not even an entity that isn’t (yet) a country — as you’ll be hitting such an almighty reset button that anyone suggesting it would have to be literally insane.
Let that sink in, because that’s when it hit me. It helped that I also then received something from a colleague suggesting a Remain attempt to also shut down the EEA Option.
And so a pattern has emerged during this whole Remain campaign of them closing down all possible escape routes with such hyperbolic force that the Remain lobby is effectively saying that EU membership is a prison. A fairly comfy one, mind, with sofas, satellite TV and such like, and one in which you can get along with your life most days and overlook the passive-aggressive warders. But it’s a prison none the less and we are its Lifers. And as is the nature of prisons, they at least have the virtue of feeling secure — a walled community that manages the prisoners contacts with the outside world. Not unlike those external trade deals and our participation on many global bodies.
Actually it’s worse than that (if it could be). This EU prison is surrounded by a moat of burning pitch, which the warders always point to if a prisoner ever gets the idea of trying to escape.
You think I’ve suddenly gone insane and turned into one of Leave’s hysterical characters?
Well, show me a serious figure in the Remain campaign who is outlining how Brexit could realistically happen without the mother of all recessions, famine, pestilence and death?
You can’t, can you?
The whole Remain campaign and the international proxies that Cameron and Osborne have willingly co-opted into Project Fear has run out of all control and lost all perspective. They are now wallowing in their own hysteria and enjoying the Leave camp’s discomfort when faced with the next supposedly independent outsider describing how whole families will die and vast swathes of Britain destroyed if we vote Leave. “Oh”, they say, “of course you can choose that path if you want”, but it’s presented as a “choice” of swimming through the moat of burning pitch. i.e. it’s no choice at all.
The balance has thus shifted from Remain saying it is unwise to leave (and “remaining is a better choice”) to effectively saying it is impossible to leave and we’ll have to make do.
In short, there really is “no democratic choice against the treaties”. We can never say No.
The most basic principle of democracy — the right to say No — will have been all but taken away. That’s the line Remainers have crossed and that is going to have very serious consequences.
It guarantees that this argument is going to get louder and uglier if Remain actually wins on such a prospectus. There’s no way Cameron can survive any reasonable length of time after this. Within the party he will go down as the most hated Conservative PM of all time, surpassing even Ted Heath. Some Conservatives will soon be barely able to speak his name. A sulphurous chasm will open up in the Conservative party, meaning only a Leave supporter can lead it. Osborne hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of becoming leader.
When you think of it, what will happen to the Conservatives is what has already happened to Labour, post-Blair; it’ll just be at much higher speed and cutting out the Brown and Miliband stages. Cameron will truly become the Heir-to-Blair.
So both main parties will be left in very different places to where they were just a few years ago, and in a much more divided parliament than we have seen for decades.
At the edges of this, UKIP (or whatever new guise they think up) will be injected with a cocktail of steroids, caffeine and rocket fuel. One could even imagine an eventual scenario of UKIPers shouting at ScotNats across the chamber while the two main parties scratch their heads and wonder what on earth went wrong.
You think I’m enjoying this? You must be bloody joking.
This scenario is exactly what I’m fighting to avoid — a degeneration into a kind of culture war where politics in this country gets ugly because Cameron, Osborne and the Remain lobby refused to countenance that our EU relationship and our democracy needed profound root-and-branch change and that they should lead Britain out if that didn’t happen.
As for “Liberal Leave”: in this scenario, I doubt we’ll even get a look in because the main Vote Leave campaign will convince itself that its dreadful campaign was nothing of the sort — they’ll see it as simply being over-run by the Remain lobby, the hysterical Project Fear, “Cameron the snake”, and that prison theme I mentioned, which individuals from the campaign will then take up. It’ll be “their fault, not ours”.
In such circumstances, Liberal Leave will have had its brief moment of trying to bring pragmatism and sense to this whole debate, but that moment will have passed.
It’ll be ranting and fighting from here.
It may be our last chance for sensible change.