Forget Project Fear. Be positive. Choose dynamism. Choose Brexit
21 JUNE 2016 • 6:06PM
The door is ajar. Through the crack, we can see swallows wheeling and dipping. We hear the cuckoo’s call. We smell meadows, thick and green. We need only push the door and stride into the sunshine. Yet we hold back. Will we be safe in those vast spaces? Can we manage on our own? Do we dare take the step?
In their hearts, not even the most strident Remain campaigners believe that we couldn’t thrive outside the EU
The Remain side has had just one message since the campaign began. It hasn’t had anything positive to say about Britain, or even about the EU, whose manifold faults the PM tried and failed to address in his renegotiation. No, the sole message has been fear. If we vote Leave it’ll mean – according to the EU’s President, Donald Tusk – the end of Western civilisation. Oh, and let’s not forget Alan Johnson’s warning that we’ll never host the Olympics again.
What a wretched view these Remain-mongers have of our country and its capabilities. If the United Kingdom can’t flourish as an independent nation, who the hell can? We are the fifth largest economy in the world, exporting naan to India, tea to China, kayaks to the Inuit. We are a nuclear power, with the fourth largest military budget on the planet and one of five permanent seats on the UN Security Council. We are, on most measures, the greatest projector of soft power on Earth, with the most studied language.
In their hearts, not even the most strident Remain campaigners believe that we couldn’t thrive outside the EU: after all, as recently as February, the PM was threatening to walk out over a trivial tweak to our welfare rules.
Brexit will be a process rather than an event: a gradual and cumulative repatriation of powers.
All right, you might say, but what about the hassle involved in getting there? Might there be short-term costs before the long-term gains?
Let’s follow through the likely chronology. Suppose we vote to leave tomorrow. Referendums are advisory in Britain: they give a mandate to the government. Ministers would be under instruction to begin the process of disengagement, on terms that are favourable to us and fair to our European allies, within a timetable that worked for all sides.
Obviously, if the vote is close, they’ll need to acknowledge that nearly half the country has voted to stay. They won’t have a mandate for precipitate or unilateral action; they’ll have to move by consent and leave some of our ties to the EU in place.
Brexit will be a process rather than an event: a gradual and cumulative repatriation of powers within the context of continuing economic links and a military alliance. The man who put it best, oddly enough, was the leader of the Remain side, Stuart Rose: “It’s not going to be a step change, it’s going to be a gentle process.”
Lord Rose went on, before his horrified spin doctors could shut him up: “Nothing is going to happen if we come out of Europe in the first five years, probably. There will be absolutely no change. Then, if you look back 10 years later, there will have been some change, and if you look back 15 years later there will have been some.”
What will have changed? We’ll have straightened our backs after years bent double under EU regulations. We’ll have raised our eyes to the burgeoning markets across the oceans. We’ll have recovered that precious right to hire and fire our own lawmakers. We’ll have shown the world that our story is not yet told. All we need is the courage, tomorrow, to take the first pace.