This time last week, I was in Edinburgh for the Scottish Conservative Party Conference, addressing a meeting of fellow Eurosceptics. Those of us who campaigned against independence will be unsurprised that the disparity of opinion between England and Scotland is exaggerated by the SNP for their own advantage. The Scottish people are far more sceptical of the European project than the Nationalists would like us to believe. Yet time and again I have been confronted by the insidious argument that if Britain votes to leave the EU it will destroy our country, torn apart by a wave of pro-EU nationalist fervour.
For loyal Unionists both north and south of the border, the idea that ‘a vote to leave the EU is a vote to leave the UK’ has gained ground and means that for some Unionism and Euroscepticism suggest a natural contradiction. This is simply untrue. I am a Eurosceptic because of my belief in the Union, not in spite of it. The idea that by voting to leave the European Union we are endangering the future of the United Kingdom is a falsehood, promoted by those who would destroy our country.
As Conservatives, the question we must ask ourselves is this; “did we win a majority in May only to let the SNP dictate to us?” The British people voted our party into power. We cannot allow the Nationalists to hold sway over future of the United Kingdom as a sovereign nation.
It is simply illogical to allow them to blackmail us with threats of a second referendum. We all know that their political strategy is to push for repeated referendums until they get the result that they want. We all know that this threat will be used again and again as they seek to use fear to subdue their political opposition. And we all know that they are doomed to fail because the Scottish people place a high value indeed on this United Kingdom. We must have courage. We cannot be afraid to take back our country.
Any post-Brexit case made for Scottish independence would be taken against a very different backdrop – with the slump in the oil price and the knowledge that any eventual re-joining of the EU would require the loss of the pound and the adoption of the Euro. Only a madman would voluntarily join the economic risk that the Eurozone now represents.
No, I simply do not believe that a vote to leave the EU will inevitably lead to the breakup of the EU. That claim lies at the unhappy conjunction of the Scottish nationalists and the Remain camp, an unholy alliance if ever there was one.
The events of the past two years have shown that we can never take the Union for granted and each of us must work to keep our Kingdom united. But we must remember that when it comes to the power to make our own laws and shape our own future, it is in the interests of the whole of Britain. If you want to leave the EU you must vote to leave. It is as simple as that. I am a committed unionist, but this referendum is not the time for tactical voting. This may be the last chance we ever have to take back control of our country from an unaccountable, wasteful and dishonest European Union. So let’s take it.
Dr Liam Fox is MP for North Somerset and former Defence Secretary. He recently published his first book ‘Rising Tides’.
(Image: Christopher Elison)