To make this case I have to tell you I am an idealist and for you to listen, I ask you to be one too. To believe in anything at all you have to hold a handful of key principles close and democracy is one of the most basic. With this in mind, look at the country we take for granted and see how it has grown into a well-functioning modern state with a great weight of diversity, prosperity, equality and stability. As much as anywhere on earth, we in the UK can grow into the people we want to be. This fact was not built on irrelevances or whispers. It is the fragile product of the loud voice of independent principle; first asserted in Runnymede 801 years ago and historically reasserted when threatened. It is a rare jewel that we must again jealously guard on the 23rd June.
We the electorate have been expected to succumb to the combined weight of global players that include the POTUS, the IMF, the WTO, the Governor of the Bank of England and the OECD. Mysteriously, however, the contributions of these establishment behemoths have not changed the weighting in the polls. One of the latest, published by the Bruges Group puts Brexit 19 points ahead. The imbalance of opinion between the elite and the people has allowed the debate to define itself along the axis of the governors and the governed. Judging by the polls, a gathering volume of voters wonder if the edifice of authority really has the interests of the British people’s political future at heart — more than the temporary instability it would dodge. Leave’s gathering pace and promising trajectory confirm to me that we may be witnessing a popular revolt against the continentally cosseted few.
However accurate the polls emerge to be, I feel fortunate not to be in the opposing camp, if only for association with its representatives. Remain is a difficult case to make at the best of times but Jeremy’s silence and David and George’s synchrony have allowed for a perfect storm of mendacity. Positive arguments like the promotion of unity and the pursuit of a species of familiarity are surely more likely to show respect to and engage the electorate than fright-fiction and sophistry. It seems to me these arguments are not made because they are known truly to hold no water. Instead, in one of his numerous warnings, the Chancellor was found to have used previously unheard of economic definitions to furnish front pages with his fabricated financial figures. Is it a case confident of its own merits that lies? I think not.
My beam of profound suspicion swings to Mr. Cameron. Would the Right Honorable Gentleman explain the shifting sands he finds beneath his stated convictions? Amid self-imposed fanfare, David Cameron announced he would not campaign for Remain if he failed to achieve his aims of renegotiation. He received a sticking plaster promise on “ever closer union,” didn’t meet his restriction on migrant benefits and had his thoughts on pro-competitive, anti-regulation economic reform met with a ‘no’ lightly cloaked in a “where feasible.” So why the threats of war? Who will we be fighting? Why are we now told we will meet Armageddon thanks mainly to our own inadequacy? So, I don’t buy Dodgy Dave’s snake oil and I would be sad to see the public even countenance another so called ‘dodgy dossier’ from George. I ask, if they have no faith in us, why would we have faith in them?
What we need to do is listen to Michael Gove and have faith in ourselves. Brexit is often characterized as a ‘leap into the dark.’ Though this is true, provided we leap confidently, we will leap well. We already know much of what the alternative will bring. If we Remain we will be bent over a negotiating barrel by our ‘allies’ and it won’t be fun. We will have given Brussels a mandate to sweep us up in to ‘ever closer union’ and we would reap all of the debilitating, independence-sapping byproducts of this. Such men as Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schauble draw their carving knives over their whet-stones slowly. In our unsolicited show of national pique we will have ruffled the feathers of those who claim to know what is good for us. I can’t help wondering why the uncertain accord such blind trust to the otherwise vilified capitalists and oligarchs when it matters the most?
One ubiquitous word of justification, trumpeted as if mention itself is sufficient to silence a riposte is that we Remain for the sake of ‘togetherness.’ This argument’s simplicity is precisely its undoing. The narrative is as follows: ‘We face a large, hostile and confusing world that offers no easy answers, surely we can be significantly more secure and influential as a unit?’ The answer is yes, if the concept that bore the union could stand up to practical tests of functionality, service and accountability. The fact that it can do none of these things means that we have, in real terms, a tattered and dysfunctional monument to post-war social optimism. Modern European countries currently face huge financial and demographic challenges that the EU fails to solve. The salient point here is that we can and will continue to be united by geography, common history and culture well into the future. It is political and financial ‘togetherness’ that is the casualty of practical scrutiny.
Another spurious but prevailing feeling is ‘if I vote for Brexit I will be aligning myself with Nigel Farage,’ risking association with the populist right. Such a person should be reassured to learn however, that since it is an issue that bisects politics, both positions bear right and left wing connotations. In fact, the single biggest compromise of Jeremy Corbyn’s career as leader of the Labour Party has been his abandonment of euroscepticism. The Old Left he represents had the interests of working people at the heart of its dogma and consequently was hugely suspicious of external economic forces interfering with our existing law and imposing protectionist economic policies that may not first fit the interests of the working Brit. Therefore, it is not simply a factional struggle, there is equal invective from both sides and to tar one of the issues with something as exclusive as an ideology or a simple word like ‘xenophobe’ would be to do the magnitude of the debate a great disservice.
‘Sovereignty’ is an easy word to ascribe to a catalogue of vaguely pompous sounding-words like it. On this subject however, John Stuart Mill rings verbose but no less apt for it: “The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” He talks in dramatic terms of the importance of having the courage to represent oneself. He talks of the reciprocal importance of having a voice. I invite you to mull his entreaties in light of the fact that in the years between 2013 and 2015 57 percent of our laws had their origin in Brussels. It is imperative we know that if we entrust our destiny to the committee we know it is a terminal choice, with terminal consequences for our country as a democracy.
Finally, a particularly common mistake is to conflate personal probity and sense with a Remain stance without taking it upon oneself to interrogate that relationship further. General faith in what Europe represents is collapsing. 53 percent of French would like a referendum of their own, joined by 48 percent of Italians and even 29 percent of Germans; we watch nationalist groups emerge in each principal EU nation. Reluctant to see their countries become vassal states, they are a manifestation of a disproportionately aggressive popular response to power seeping from their parliaments. Simultaneously, Greece sinks into abject poverty and, in company with the Balkan states is a province of Brussels’ whim in all but name. The successful maintenance of the common good is more an EU claim than a reality. Thus, we must not confuse preserving the status quo with maintaining a grip on any certainty going forward.
In conclusion, let’s remember what has made strong us in the past; independence of thought and self-reliance. To remain would set us defenseless and adrift back into a sea of supranational directives at the mercy of potentially vindictive lawmakers. Our special position would be no longer even a mirage. If we leave, the demise of our country as we know it will come about thanks to our casual ideological iconoclasm. We must fight hard for the democracy we claim to defend and uphold it when it counts the most.