With six weeks to go until polling day, the Remain campaign has been ratcheting up the pressure. Day after day, the news is filled with ranks of senior figures from politics, business and defence, delivering increasingly chilling warnings about the dangers of leaving the European Union. There will be war. There will be poverty. Britain will be left an isolated, rain-lashed lump of rock off the coast of Europe, our economy in free-fall as our industries and trading partners abandon us to our fate. Genocide is on the cards.
All claim to be working independently, yet their interventions are perfectly timed. Each economist and general is taking part in one of the greatest displays of choreographed political activism that the UK has ever seen. The big guns are being wheeled out, and they intend to pound the Brexiteers into submission.
Yet it is not working. The Remain camp are rattled because, despite their best efforts, the polls remain resolutely stable. The contest remains too close to call, and the mask of satisfied self-confidence that the Remainians maintain is starting to slip. They expected to be twenty points clear at this point, instead they are facing the possibility of a victory for Leave.
So why has this happened? Why has the vast expenditure of political capital yielded so little progress in the polls? The answer is simple. Those in this country who have been on the receiving end of European Union policies for most of their lives can never be persuaded that the EU works for them, and they can never be persuaded to vote to remain, especially by those who have previously claimed to be Eurosceptics but are now the strongest of EU advocates.
I have spoken before about this referendum being a ‘people’s revolt’; a rejection by ordinary people of the EU discourse as presented by a raft of politicians and leaders of industry. It is part of a wider phenomenon, being seen on both sides of the Atlantic as well as on the Continent, of voters increasingly rejecting received political wisdom and seeking an alternative solution.
The bureaucrats of the EU, and those who support them, have never experienced the social and economic degradations that are a direct result of their policies. They have never experienced a struggle to find a home because families from overseas are first in the queue. They have never had their children’s education disrupted by schools filled beyond capacity. They have never found themselves struggling to find work, as they are undercut time and time again by a labour market of 600 million people. They have never seen their small business drown in red tape, as the financial cost of compliance becomes too much to bear.
As my colleague Iain Duncan Smith articulated in his terrific speech on Tuesday, the EU is a force for social injustice. Unchecked migration forces wages down below subsistence levels, creating a class of ‘working poor’. Britain has seen decades of under-investment in the training and productivity our own workforce, as firms increasingly import cheaper labour from abroad.
Small businesses have been shown to be the best route back into work for the unemployed, yet they incur billions of pounds in regulatory costs, despite never trading outside the UK. The EU may be working for the bankers who are funding the Remain campaign, but it has never, and will never, work for ordinary people.
Conservatism is about providing opportunities for all. It is about giving people the dignity of a job, the chance to own their own home, and an education for their children. It is about spreading opportunity across social and economic divides. Yet we cannot fulfil these aims while we are part of the European project.
As Conservatives, we must have the courage to stand up to the EU if we are to have any hope of remaking Britain in this image. The poorest and most disadvantaged in this country already know it; to build a better future, we must vote to leave the European Union.
(Image: Erlebnis Europa)
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