The word ‘eurosceptic’ is finished


Earlier this year I coined the term ‘Brexiteer’ and it seems to have gained remarkable traction as Tim Montgomerie’s column in The Times now proves.

Why the new term?

Because the term ‘eurosceptic’ has run its course. The world and his dog has become a ‘eurosceptic’ as it has become stealthily redefined to mean scepticism of certain aspects of the EU. That’s why David Cameron can (and does) describe himself as a ‘eurosceptic’ despite him being committed to Britain’s membership of the EU.

The word has come to mean all things to all people.

The history of the word ‘eurosceptic’ also demonstrates why it needs to be thrown out. The term was allegedly invented by Dr Alan Sked some time around 1990, and probably over a drink with The Bruges Group’s founder Patrick Robertson. (Sked would go on to create the Anti-Federalist League which morphed into the UK Independence Party.)

Dr Alan Sked in the 1990s

But in the early days of The Bruges Group in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the idea of actually leaving the EU was considered something of a fringe viewpoint and thus was muttered in hushed tones. The Bruges Group itself was founded on the back of Margaret Thatcher’s Bruges speech in September 1988 which, if you read it now, is remarkably tame by modern standards in what it says about the UK and the EU. The speech certainly doesn’t even hint at Brexit.

Thus a term was needed back then that bound together those who were on Thatcher’s wing (including some private ‘Outers’), and which appeared to take an intellectual/ high ground position but didn’t go so far as to overtly suggest exit.

Hence ‘eurosceptic’: a fairly soft word implying a considered and undogmatic stance that’s ‘sceptical’ of the EU.

But those days are firmly behind us. Now you are either in favour of leaving the EU or you are not. If you are a ‘eurosceptic’ these days, you are probably and perversely in the ‘Remain’ camp.

That’s why we need the word ‘Brexiteer’.

It sorts out ‘the men from the boys’, the ‘wheat from the chaff’, and the mice from…the Brexiteers.