Open Europe goes native

Open Europe have asked me (quite rightly) to clarify their position: they presented four scenarios, two negative, two positive, for Brexit.  They are quite right to point out that it was the choice of the media, and especially of the Telegraph and the FT, to lead on the down-side.  The media could just as well have headlined their articles “Report shows that Britain could prosper outside the EU”.  I apologise to Open Europe if I misrepresented them in the heat of the moment.

I used to think of Open Europe as a half-way sensible, reliable, euro-critical think tank.  Some of their reports were quite helpful, at least for their data if not always for their conclusions.  So it is disappointing just before a General Election to see them going into over-drive as apologists for Brussels .

First there was their report, a few days ago,  claiming that leaving the EU would save only a tiny fraction of the regulatory costs of EU membership, so we’d do better to stay in and renegotiate – a proposition that could have come straight from the spin doctors at Conservative Central Office. They said that EU regulation currently costs £33 billion a year (a serious under-estimate, but let that pass).  But if we left, and (say) adopted the Norway model, as many recommend, we should still be subject to EU rules costing 90% of the current figure.  So stay and fight.

What they have done is to make a great case against the Norway option (which in any case UKIP could never accept, since it involves keeping the EU’s “free movement” rules).  They have not, however, made any case at all against Brexit.  And they’ve sought to give credence to the idea that significant renegotiation is possible.  If you can’t take the word of Jean Claude Juncker and other EU leaders that they will not give way on basic elements of the Treaties, then look at the history.  For over forty years British politicians have been declaring that they would win key concessions in Brussels, but they have failed over and over again, and we are ever deeper in the mire.

Then we had Dominic Grieve saying that any post-Brexit Free Trade Deal with the EU would necessarily imply free movement.  Plain ignorant nonsense, Dominic.  The EU has dozens of free trade deals around the world, and is negotiating dozens more, and only a handful — the EEA deals — involve free movement.

Now Open Europe does it again, headlining the news that “Brexit could lose the UK 2.2% of GDP”.  Even the headline is misleading — it cites the worst-case outcome from four scenarios.  The headlines ignore the best-case scenario, in which Britain gains 1.55% of GDP.  This report (say the media) “represents a significant challenge to Nigel Farage’s demand for Britain to leave the EU”.  OK.  So let’s respond to the challenge.

Of Open Europe’s four scenarios, only one bears any relation to UKIP policy, and that (surprise surprise) is the best-case scenario.  Let’s look at the four approaches:

1        “A hostile exit”: Britain would introduce “strict immigration controls and protectionist trade policies”.  UKIP wants managed immigration, not “strict immigration controls” (I assume Open Europe mean “closing the borders”).  And we are a free-trading party, absolutely opposed to protectionism.  This worst case scenario, that the Tory press has rushed to headline, is wholly unrealistic.  Nor do we anticipate a “hostile exit”.  Our trade with the EU will continue to be covered by WTO rules, and it is inconceivable that we should not negotiate an FTA with the remainder of the EU.

2        The Swiss model: According to Open Europe, this would still be negative (despite Swiss government studies showing that if they joined the EU as full members, like theUK, Switzerland would be much worse off).  But we don’t want the Swiss model, for much the same reasons that we don’t want the Norway model.

3        “Britain would begin to benefit if it signed FTAs with countries such as China”.  Exactly.  And that’s what UKIP would plan to do.  Outside the EU, we should be free to do so.  If little Iceland can negotiate an FTA with China, it beggars belief that the UKwould be unable to do so.

4        “Unilateral free trade” with deregulation.  We’re not sure we’d prioritise unilateralfree trade, but free trade and deregulation are a main part of our agenda, and here we agree with Open Europe that the effects would be positive — though we think that they under-estimate the benefits (including the massive competitive benefit of reforming our energy markets free of EU rules).

In summary, the Open Europe report is partly wrong, partly misleading, and wholly unhelpful.

One final point, particularly relevant in the context of my remark about Iceland.  We are constantly told that EU membership puts us in a much stronger position to negotiate trade deals.  It gives us “clout”.  But those familiar with such negotiations know that exactly the opposite is true.  The EU negotiators are ham-strung by the need to juggle the conflicting interests of 28 member-states, whereas their interlocutors on the other side of the table have to focus on just one country’s interests.  The EU negotiates from a position of invincible structural weakness.

I know this from my own experience in Korea in the early 90s, when I was MD of a Diageo/United Distillers subsidiary.  The EU representative office (I won’t call it an Embassy) back-pedalled on market access for Scotch (and Cognac and other European spirits) so as not to queer its pitch in trying to sell French or German high speed trains for the Seoul/Pusan route.  So much for “clout”.

Mission Impossible

Donald Tusk, the former Prime Minister of Poland who took over from Herman van Rompuy as President of the European Council, didn’t mince his words. David Cameron’s hope of reopening the EU treaties to secure a bespoke relationship for the UK within the EU is virtually “mission impossible.” Mr Tusk said that he would offer the Prime Minister his support “because he is obviously pro-European” but stated that securing a consensus among all the member states would not be easy. “We need unanimity between 28 member states, in the European parliament, in 28 national parliaments in the process of ratification. To say that it is a Pandora’s Box is too little.”

Already, Cameron has been told that free movement of people is not negotiable. Concerns about immigration are one of the main reasons why many in the UK are unhappy about our present relationship with the EU. His chances of an opt-out from the phrase “ever closer union” don’t look that great either, even though it would only be a symbolic gesture.

Less than a week announcing that George Osborne is going to head up the UK’s negotiating team, it cannot have pleased Mr Cameron that a senior European politician has pointed to the difficulties he faces. He was pretty cock-a-hoop last week, saying that, while his legal advice was that treaty changes were needed he claimed “legal advice in the European Union is a strange beast” and was often surprisingly flexible. He went on to say that “I think this is the moment Britain stops sleepwalking towards the exit.”

This silly phrase has been used before – by Ed Miliband of all people. It is pretty meaningless as it implies that supporters of withdrawal want to make it happen without anyone realising what is going on. Far from it. We want to let people know how bad the EU is for us and for them to make an informed choice to leave. If the arguments can be presented clearly, the case for withdrawal is overwhelming. Mr Tusk’s intervention is an encouragement as it suggests that he doesn’t share David Cameron’s confidence that he can pull off Harold Wilson’s trick in 1975 and fob off the electorate with a “smoke and mirrors” renegotiation that actually repatriates nothing of any significance. Still, we must not jump the gun. There is firstly a matter of Cameron securing a victory over that man he famously called “weak, weak, weak”…….

Photo by Editor B

Another fence-sitter about to come out?

Along with Bill Cash, John Redwood MP has long been known as a fierce critic of the EU. However, the question of where they stood on the withdrawal issue has been a source of considerable debate. Recently, Bill Cash came off the fence as we reported last month when, at the Alternatives to EU Membership conference organised by David Campbell Bannerman MEP he said “There is no alternative except moving to exit.”

Mr Redwood, who recentlky addressed a near empty House of Commons appears to be inching close to a similar position. Here are a few extracts from what was an extremely well-delivered speech

“It used to be a fundamental principle of the House of Commons that no House of Commons properly elected could bind a successor House of Commons. That was a fundamental part of the British people’s liberties. They have to trust a House of Commons for up to five years to legislate and govern on their behalf. They can do so safe in the knowledge that if we—those in government—do not please, they can dismiss us at the following general election. They can elect a new group of people who can change all that they did not like about the laws and conduct of the Government whom they have just removed.”

“Our membership of the European Economic Community, now the Union, has increasingly damaged, undermined and overwhelmed that essential precept, which was the guarantee of our liberties as the British people. Now there are huge areas of work that are under European law and European control. Those parties that go out from this House into the general election and, for example, offer a better deal on energy, may well come back and discover that what they have offered is quite impossible under the strict and far-reaching rules on energy that now come from the European Union.”

“Yesterday, we did not have time to debate in the House the EU energy package. Within the proposals we were being asked to approve in the Commission’s work programme was a strategic framework for energy policy. In turn, that will spawn an enormous amount of detailed regulation and legislation, making energy a European competence almost completely. More or less anything that the main political parties say about what they wish to do on energy policy during the next five years will be possible only if it just happens that what they wish to do is legal under this massive amount of law and regulation. Much of it is in place already. More will come forward in ever-increasing volumes under the strategic framework and further legal policy. That is but one area.”

“A couple of other big concerns that will be much debated in the election are welfare and border and migration policy. Again, anything that parties say in our general election has to go through the European test. Will changes in benefits that parties wish to see be legal or possible under the European Union? May we not find that we are completely bound by predecessor Parliaments because they have signed up to legal requirements under European law that make it impossible for the House any longer to control our own welfare policy?”

“Yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe encouraged me with his optimism because he said that welfare remained a national UK matter, but there is plenty of evidence that it already is not in many respects. All sorts of policies have been looked at that I am told would fall foul of European law and regulation. It is quite obvious, again, looking at the European Union’s work programme, that it will intensify its activity in this area and make it even more difficult for a national Parliament to express the wish that it wants in its laws on welfare. The same is true of border controls, where we are signed up to the free movement of peoples. That is now being ever more generously interpreted as giving the EU carte blanche and substantial control over border and migration policy throughout the EU.”

“We need to pause over this. I remember the excellent words of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in his Bloomberg speech. The Bloomberg speech wisely said that the fount of political authority in any European member state, but certainly in the United Kingdom, rests from the national electorate through the national Parliament.That is still right. We see that in the recent conflicts and rows in a country such as Greece, which is under even more European control than we are by being part of the euro. The Prime Minister reasoned that this country needs to negotiate a new relationship with the EU that recognises that on really important things—I would have thought that welfare, borders and energy were really important things—if necessary, the national Parliament can assert and interpret the will of the British people. There should be some mechanism by which we can then do as we wish, reflecting the will of the people.”

“When I asked {Pat McFadden} whether, on a mighty issue that matters a great deal to the British people, there should be a right for us in this House to reflect their view and legislate accordingly. He said no, there should be no such right, and we have to follow all the rules of the European scheme.”

“We need to negotiate now…an arrangement…for us, the United Kingdom. We must be able to say that we are still a vibrant democracy. We need to be able to say that if something matters a great deal to the British people and if it has been approved in a general election, this House can take action even if it means disagreeing with the rules of the European Union. By all means, we can try to negotiate an arrangement case by case, but where we cannot do that, we need an override. We need the right to say, “This thing matters too much to our democracy.” If we do not have that very simple change, we no longer have in this country a successful and vibrant democracy that can guarantee stability and guarantee to deliver what the British people want.”

“I am pleased to have been part of the forces in this country that kept us out of the euro, which meant that we missed the worst—this country has a reasonable economic recovery that is completely unrelated to the continent, with its long recession and deep troubles in the southern territories—but as I see my country sucked into common policies on energy, borders, foreign affairs and welfare, I think that we might be sucked in too far and have exactly the same problems on those issues that the euro area is already experiencing on the central matter of economics.”

“I urge Ministers to take this seriously and to re-read the words of the Bloomberg speech. I urge the Opposition to join us, because they aspire to govern this country. One day they may come up with really popular policies and be elected on that basis, and what a tragedy it would be if they discovered that they could not enact those policies because they were illegal under European law. That could happen just as much to the Labour party as to the Conservative party.”

“If there is to be trust between politicians and the people, the national Parliament must be able to deliver when the people speak. We are in danger of that no longer being true.”

Photo by Martin Hesketh

The Scotland Referendum and the lessons for 2017

No, it was not a Referendum on Independence

Regardless of the result, Scotland would not have become independent as a result of the 2014 referendum. The Scottish people were being sold a false prospectus.

There are two reasons:
The first is that the nature of the 2014 referendum was misunderstood. It was purely consultative; it was an ‘expression of wish’ referendum not a referendum on any actual concrete, practical proposals for an independent Scotland, as there were none. There were, of course, plenty of aspirations. This misreading by the political class of the nature of different referendums cropped up repeatedly during the euro referendum that never was around the year 2000. At that time Tony Blair seems to have thought a referendum vote in the UK would decide British entry to the euro regardless of the EU treaties, rates
of entry, ERM membership, etc., etc. when agreement to entry required consent from other participants. Alex Salmond seems to have also thought that winning a referendum would be decisive. But a referendum is an instrument, it isn’t an aim or a plan. The final terms and the consent of other parties, especially the UK government, was not in Salmond’s control.

Indeed, the YES campaigners went to great lengths to keep the Scottish electorate from hearing contrary views or thinking about hard facts. One remembers the assault on Nigel Farage in Edinburgh. It was infantilising and patronising for the YES campaign to suggest that Scotland could break away from the rest of the UK without pain but would flourish in the EU. Nor did the Westminster parties treat the electorate as adults. Unlike the Spanish government, which stated the truth, that the independence of any part of the country was a matter for the whole country, the Westminster parties refused to allow any electoral participation in the rest of the UK, nor were English politicians encouraged to campaign in Scotland – apparently the logic was that the Scots would be ‘upset’.

Types of Referendum

Referendums fall generally into three categories. First, there are those that ask for confirmation of decisions already taken and implemented by the Executive (confirmatory). Among these would be classified the French referendums which confirmed the various governmental constitutions during the French Revolution – the changing regimes of the Directory, the Consulate and the Empire.
Hitler’s referendums, which covered such matters as the merging of the Offices of Reich President and Reich Chancellor after the death of Hindenburg, approval for the reoccupation of the Rhineland and leaving the League of Nations, also fell into this category.

A second type of referendum is the enabling type. This is where the general proposition is put to the people with the details to be filled in by the executive at a later date. Classic cases of this type were the referendums in the 1990s in Scotland, Wales and London. In these cases, the details were on subordinate matters, not essentials.

The third type is the seeking of popular consent (“consent”) to a fully worked, proposed law. A referendum of this type was conducted in Denmark in 1992, where the government sought approval of Denmark’s consent to the Treaty of Maastricht after making available a million copies of the treaty. A similar referendum was held in Denmark in 2000 on whether or not Denmark should join the single currency. In this case most of the facts were in the public’s hands. The treaty had been distributed, the rate at which Denmark would enter the euro and all the conditions were known and Denmark complied with the conditions for entry to the single currency, including being in the ERM for over two years. There were defects in the actual question, but the basis for the question was reasonable.

The basis of the “consent” referendum is generally acceptable, provided the public receive balanced information and each ‘side’ has equal resources. Some referendums have somewhat hybrid characteristics. The British referendum of 1975 fell partly in the “consent” category in that the Treaty of
Rome was available to the electorate, though not distributed. Nevertheless the matter in question, membership of the Common Market, had already been decided by Parliament and enacted previously so that it also had many elements of the “confirmatory” type. What has been objectionable is the pretence that the consent obtained in 1975 applied to all the various subsequent amending treaties that have turned the Common Market into the EC and now the EU with far greater powers than those given consent to by the British people in 1975.

Unique Referendum

Once the types of referendums are classified, it is easy to see that the Scotland referendum of 2014 was unique. It was a classic referendum of the enabling type where the electorate gives approval to a general proposition with the details later filled in by the Executive. What was unique in Scotland was that the details were to be filled in by agreement between the Executive and a regional government. Because of the necessity of negotiations, the Scotland referendum exhibited a further uniqueness, it could not be executed by a single Executive but fulfilment was dependent on the outcome of negotiation between two parties and, to some extent, outsiders such as the EU institutions.

It is negotiations that will matter An independent Scotland would come into being via a Scotland Act passed by the British Parliament which would define the terms of separation and would
have to command the support of a majority of MPs. Any negotiated terms would be very different from the narrative put forward by the YES side. These terms and negotiations thereon would be going on against a background of capital flight as the Scotland bargaining position was eroded.In fact, the separatists would be in a remarkably weak position, similar to Blair would have been over the euro, as explained at length in my book, ‘Why Mr. Blair will not win a Euro Referendum’. Having won a referendum, but having an unsatisfactory negotiation, what exactly would the Scottish separatists do then? There is a prevailing assumption that Scotland and the UK would agree a deal. This is highly unlikely. More likely is a complete deadlock in negotiations. There would be no pressure on the UK side to agree any deal at all, although obviously they would appear to be reasonable. Even if Scotland agreed to hand over the Faslane base in perpetuity, agreed it would not have sterling as its currency, took on its fair share of UK debt, agreed to migration controls, agreed a division of oil as a favourable basis to the rest of the UK, agreed to take on all liability for Scottish pensioners – and these are the minimum terms the rest of the UK should and would insist on – dealing with the question of EU membership is outside the UK’s powers, there are other parties involved.

Capital Flight

The second reason that Scotland will not become independent regardless of any  purported ‘yes’ vote is, of course, flight of English capital (followed by Scottish capital) from Scotland – regardless of whether or not there is a shared currency. Indeed, the question of a shared currency was a misleading issue. The real
issue was that English savers would not wish their assets to be in one country and their liabilities in another. In the same way, despite Germany and Portugal, sharing a currency, German savers, pensions and institutions keep their assets in Germany not in Portugal. Institutions and corporations would have a fiduciary duty to rectify a mismatch of assets of liabilities. Whether there was a shared currency or not would be irrelevant. And, of course, Scottish financial institutions are all heavily dependent on English capital. So, the Scottish financial sector would have to go into exile in England when English savers exercised their vote and there would be a massive transfer of English capital into England.

There was a previous independent ‘Scotland’

Another area which has never been considered by the YES Campaign or the Westminster parties is ‘people flight’. There has, of course, been a previous ‘Scotland’. It was Ireland becoming a dominion in 1922 and leaving the Union even if the political and financial background was different. Ireland then was a rural economy without any significant systemic role in the financial structure of the UK. It could detach itself from the UK with some damage to itself but of little relevance to the rest of the UK.
Two things happened demographically after 1922. Almost immediately there was an exodus of English born Irish residents or Protestant Irish born. This was followed by an ongoing exodus of Irish born people which lasted for 70 years up till the 1990s and has resumed again in 2008. Between 1926 and 1972 (that is, after the initial exodus of English born people) it is estimated that about one third of the potential Irish population between 1922 and 1972 was exported; that is to say, the number of Irish born and their descendants leaving after 1926, was 50% of the Irish population in 1972. If one adds in the pre-1926 exodus plus the further exodus after 1972, the figure was higher.

Why should Scotland be any different? The heavy welfare state planned by the SNP cannot be sustained without English financial support and will have to be drastically reduced. The economic losses when a political and economic union breaks up tend to be equal by definition on both sides, unless there are special factors. But the capacity of each side is vastly different. So what would be a relatively small loss
for the UK was a crushing loss for Ireland and would be a crushing loss for Scotland.

Indeed it is hard to say that Ireland ever became truly independent. Ninety years after 1922, the UK extended an emergency £7 billion loan to Ireland (£10,000 for every Irish family), this has recently been extended to 2042 (120 years after ‘independence’). While, no doubt the act of a good neighbour, it is
hard not to read some dependence into this. Indeed, if Scotland followed the path of Ireland, it would never become truly independent.

Emigration from Scotland

Moreover it is difficult to see why English born people would wish to stay permanently in Scotland, a country that specifically voted to separate itself from England. Of course, the UK could impose migration controls on Scotland, especially as the arrival of Scottish migrants would impose enormous infrastructure costs on the UK, as well as pushing down wages.

Conclusion

In short, the Separatists will fail because they do not have a clear aim, defining exactly what are the essentials of their independence proposition nor a clear plan, defining how to secure separation without massive self-harm to Scotland’s economy.
Their secret wish must be the sheer feebleness and lack of any foresight or planning by the UK government, which could agree separation terms which are damaging to the rest of the UK by taking on liabilities, both financial and other, to Scotland under the guise of ‘good relations’ and leave the Scottish state a permanent pensioner of the English taxpayer.
However, otherwise, once the capital exodus and the people exodus begin – and they would begin immediately after a YES vote – it is difficult to see how the Separatists could act other than by reneging on a YES vote.

The lesson for EU withdrawalists is clear. They must win the ‘enabling’ question, that is to say, an ‘expression of wish’, but must also have a clear aim and clear plan to be executed the day after the result.
Photo by Dave McLear

Millions of UK jobs NOT at risk from Brexit, says IEA report

The oft-repeated claim that 3m British jobs depend on Britain’s membership of the EU has been challenged in a new report by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).

The report’s author, Ryan Bourne, calls on the public and commentators to challenge the assertion frequently made by pro-EU supporters.

“It can be said with certainty that three to four million jobs are not at risk in the event of a Brexit”, Bourne said.

He added “It’s high time that politicians and commentators stopped scaremongering, and recognised that jobs are associated with trade and not the membership of a political union” .

Trade is the crucial factor associated with jobs, not EU membership and it would be a mistake to think trade flows and volumes would be substantially hit by Brexit, according to the IEA.

The 3m jobs claim has a variety of sources, one of the more recent being based on Treasury estimates of the number of jobs linked to British exports flowing to the EU – still Britain’s single biggest trading partner. The figure was cited ad nauseam by Nick Clegg during his debate with Ukip leader Nigel Farage last year.

However, Bourne argues that it’s unrealistic in the extreme, even in a hypothetical worst case scenario where trade completely broke down, that these jobs would be lost.

Rather “import substitution” would help to offset some of the worst aspects of a breakdown in trade. If the Prime Minister of the day was unable to negotiate an EU-UK free trade deal, both the EU and the UK are still bound by the rules of the World Trade Organisation that imposition of massive tariffs.

While still a huge part of the UK’s export market, the EU controls many aspects of British trade policy. The UK government is unable to sign unilateral free trade agreements with other countries. Outside the EU, the IEA report suggests Britain could focus on getting a better deal with countries around the world.

It remains highly questionable whether the EU would want to start a de facto trade war with the UK after a Brexit, since the EU sells more to Britain than it buys. The IEA concedes that there would likely be a change in the UK’s trade patterns.

If no UK-EU free trade deal could be negotiated, some industries may find it more difficult to operate at their current level and may have to shed jobs as a result. One example could be the financial services sector, which, according to analysis by Open Europe, would be most in danger if Britain pulled out of the EU.

The report argues that the central factor determining whether or not the EU is a drag on or a boon to UK employment depends is kind of policies an independent Britain would pursue after Brexit.

If Britain goes for a low tax, de-regulated, free trade economy uninhibited by Brussels’ rules and hefty EU contributions, the IEA believe there is every reason to believe prosperity will be just as great or greater following Brexit.

(This article first appeared in City AM)

The Clunking Fist needs a reality check

It is pretty rare for someone who was once our nation’s prime minister to come out with such complete and utter rubbish as Gordon Brown with his recent comments on the prospect of the UK leaving the EU.

Writing in The Guardian yesterday, Brown regurgitates the now discredited “three million jobs” myth and pooh-poohs the Norwegian Option in a manner almost worthy of Nick Clegg. However, his most bizarre comment was to claim that “leaving Europe to join the world is really the North Korea option, out in the cold with few friends, no influence, little new trade and even less new investment.”

So withdrawalists are wanting to turn the country into one of the most dictatorial, impoverished and isolated countries in the world, eh, Gordon?

How about a few facts here and there? Withdrawal from the EU would make us more democratic. We would be governed by representatives we could elect and dismiss rather than having to kow-tow to unelected bureaucrats of the whims of foreign heads of state. If we remained within the EEA and re-joined EFTA, we could retain our trade with the EU’s single market while being free to renegotiate our own free trade agreements free from the UN-inspired red tape that renders so many of the EU’s free trade agreements so bureaucratic. What of the isolation element? Unlike the North Koreans, we speak the world’s lingua franca. Unlike North Korea, we are, even within the EU, one of the countries offering the fewest obstacles to businessmen. Outside the EU, we could repeal the more burdensome regulations and be even more business-friendly.

Would we lose all our friends when we left? The bonds of the Anglophone world go deep. In many ways, we would be more likely to strengthen them. After all, withdrawal offers us a chance to redress the betrayal of our Commonwealth friends in 1973 when we reorientated our trade away from them.

As for the “no influence” issue, it is amazing that anyone takes us seriously at the moment when as an EU member state, we don’t even have the freedom as to how we label our bananas! We would still be members of NATO and the Commonwealth. Our well-trained, if depleted armed forces, would still be in demand for training the armed forces of other nations. Our public schools and universities would still be attracting top students from across the world.

Somehow, this doesn’t sound much like North Korea!

Brown said that “Britain has shaped the destiny of Europe and the world before.” History says that we have done much better in shaping Europe from without – in other words, as an independent state. We did more far more good to Europe in 1802-1815, 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 than we have done since 1973. The EU was designed as a federal superstate. That’s not what we want and we have failed totally to convince the other member states to ditch the silly idea of ever-closer union. We have failed time after time to persuade the French to abandon the protectionist and wasteful Common Agricultural Policy. We have had forty years of Conservative talk of reforming the EU and ended up with an arch-integrationist, Jean-Claude Juncker, chosen as Commission President in spite of David Cameron’s protests.

Brown is right in one thing:- yes, we who support withdrawal are calling it the patriotic option and unashamedly so. No self- respecting, successful country normally submits to rule from abroad unless it has been invaded. It was patriotism that caused millions of our young men to give their lives in two world wars. Thankfully, no such sacrifice will be needed this time, just a cross in the right place on the ballot form, but the motivation is the same – freedom from foreign tyranny – a noble and patriotic cause indeed.

Brown has promised to play an active part in the “In” campaign if a referendum is held in 2017. How much he was able to influence the result in the Scottish referendum campaign by his intervention is a moot point, but south of the border he hasn’t been forgotten as the man who raided our pension pots as Chancellor and crashed the economy as Prime Minister. Unless the Clunking Fist takes a hefty reality check, the more he intervenes on behalf of the “in” campaign with gibberish like this, the brighter the prospects for withdrawal. Bring it on, Flash!

Photo by david_terrar