EU: A 'Bremainer' Breaks Ranks

22/06/2016 17:23 | Updated 22 June 2016

I will begrudgingly vote 'Bremain'. I will do this in spite of the 'Bremain' and 'Brexit' campaigns. For me and thousands of 'In' voters like me, Bremain isn't talking to a Britain I recognise. Brexit is.

I will not be voting for my country or those of Europe to be bludgeoned into one great bureaucratic blob. It is hard to love the EU's flimsy banknotes or its tacky flag and it is a fair bet to say millions across Europe feel the same. Au contraire: I love Europe, its staggeringly accomplished cultures, and especially my own part of it - Great Britain.

Like the Brexiteers I am worried by the almost audible effacement of each and any of our cultural heirlooms that 'don't meet regulation standards'. Whether Britain's imperial measurements or those nice olive oil jugs that restaurants are no longer allowed to use, the Europarliament is forever poking its nose in places it shouldn't be.

The strange thing is that--on paper--people like me are the core vote "Bremain" needs on side to win the EU referendum tomorrow. A former staffer to the Lib Dem leadership, my comfortable middle-class experience of immigration has been unerringly positive. I do very well out of the EU, thank you.

The Bremain campaign should have had me and mine stomping the streets handing out leaflets, imploring you to vote 'In'. They didn't.

This is because for us, the In or Out debate became a choice between two different visions for Britain. It is even a question of two different visions of Britain. Yet Brexit has stolen Bremain's strongest argument from under our noses, and made it their own.

Brexiteers insist we are on the cusp of a British resurgence, our history-battered country back in rude health. It's an exciting, rallying message. In every country of every continent people dress as we dress, follow ever more of our values and (literally) speak our language. And good thing too, say Brexiteers. Britain is dynamic, wise to history and--unlike its muddled and inward-looking continent--utterly global in its ambitions. Yet somehow they have sold us the story that by leaving the EU, by disentangling and curbing all that interconnectedness, we would end up with a Britain that is more connected to the world and better placed to shape its surroundings.

They tell us leaving the EU would give us greater control of our destiny. Exactly the reverse is true.

Instead of crying foul, Bremain have fed this story. They tell us we are a puny island, doomed to be endlessly outvoted in the Europarliament on everything from cucumber length to condiment dispensary by twenty-eight nosy neighbours. To vote Bremain tomorrow is presented as a vote for some sort of capitulation. Thousands upon thousands of us feel we are being asked to declare with our ballots we are not half the country we were.

The outrage is this: in truth it is the other way around. Brexit has pulled the wool over half the country's eyes, and Bremain has helped them get away with it.

Pull the wool off, and you realise it is by leaving that we would be capitulating. Are we so inept that we cannot win around our neighbours? Europe's strongest voice for economic liberalism is being goaded by Brexit to bow out of the contest, leaving the Germans to lead. Brexit present us with absurd 1930s comparisons, but they are giving us Chamberlin's philosophy in Churchillian prose. The opinion polls say we're falling for it.

I will vote for Britain to change the EU from within tomorrow, because I know this is an island on the up. There are harsh truths to swallow in this debate, but the nonsense that Britain has become a mouse of a country is not one of them.

The EU is run badly, on flawed principles. It will be tough to bring about change. By getting other free-trade countries on side and providing a alternative vision to the Franco-German cauchemar of economic asphyxiation by red tape, it is possible. If we leave, those obsessed with using that red tape to bind nations together in 'ever closer union' will dig in their heels and plant their flag.

Globalisation and migration are here to stay. We should respond by proudly opening up our Union-Jack-emblazoned tent, not zipping it shut. I only hope the message has finally got out that it is winning this argument and shaping the EU in our image - not this nonsense of a tired Britain retreating under its own shadow - that Britons must wholeheartedly grit their teeth and vote for tomorrow.


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