The title of this article is perhaps a little ambiguous, I admit. As of now, there is no unified “OUT” Campaign. However, in the last week, a number of key voices have been positioning themselves making their views clearly known and balancing what they’ve said is the key purpose of this piece.
The Bruges Group met on 1st June at which John Redwood (Tory “EUsceptic”), Tim Aker and Peter Oborne (former Telegraph journalist, now Associate editor of The Spectator) spoke. Then, on Tuesday, the Telegraph published a forward-looking article from Daniel Hannan, well known EUsceptic Tory MEP, and yesterday Survation published the results of a poll conducted for British Future, which is an independent, non-partisan think-tank engaging people’s hopes and fears about integration and migration, opportunity and identity. Finally, today, the Telegraph reports an interview with our leader, Nigel Farage, on this very topic.
I am grateful to Robert Henderson, one of our regular authors, for reporting on the Bruges Group meeting. His full report, albeit heavily laced with his own opinions, can be read on his “England Calling” Blog.
Apparently, John Redwood was so out of touch with the feeling of the audience that he came close to being booed, committing what looked like an amazing volte face. Robert reports that:
Redwood asked the audience to trust Cameron’s honesty in his attempt to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU and put forward a plan for the OUT campaign which side-lined Nigel Farage. Redwood said that he believed in Cameron’s honest intent in his negotiations with the EU. Consequently, he would not make up his mind whether to vote to leave until Cameron had completed his negotiations. He also said explicitly that he would vote to stay in if the renegotiations were successful.
So, it appears that he is one of a number of people who want to see what Cameron’s “renegotiations” bring before starting an “Out” campaign.
Peter Oborne’s speech largely consisted of backing up Redwood’s objections to Farage and Redwood’s plans for the OUT campaign.
Tim Aker dealt pretty roughly with Redwood whose position on Cameron’s sincerity he treated with undisguised incredulity. Tim’s speech basically rehearsed most of the arguments for the “Out” Campaign:
- Immigrants reduce the wages of the low paid
- The unemployed of other EU states are being dumped on the UK
- The need for positive patriotism
- A vote to remain in the EU would betray future generations
- Billions in Aid went to foreigners while some of our own people went to food banks
- England was being Balkanised through the introduction of city regions
Robert Henderson reports that Tim’s speech produced in Redwood and Oborne the kind of facial expressions that people adopt when they have encountered an unpleasant smell.
UKIP are often perceived as being negative about the impact of the EU. On the other hand, Hannan’s article provided a positive vision of Britain outside of the EU. The picture he painted included:
- Britain trading with the whole world.
- London’s financial institutions booming.
- A revival of key industries with the removal of restrictive EU Directives.
- Immigration is viewed positively, the limits being keenly debated each year.
- Britain taps into its huge shale gas and oil reserves, leading to cheaper energy.
- We become optimistic about our place in the world: 5th largest economy, fourth military power, G8 member, permanent UN Security Council seat, home of the world’s greatest city and most widely spoken language.
Hannan has to be a key component in the “Out” Campaign for sure,
Survation/British Future Poll
Yesterday, the British Future sponsored survey hit the streets. This contains a number of key messages. Significantly, Survation’s polling revealed:
…public distrust of two of the referendum’s loudest voices – Tony Blair and Nigel Farage… Tony Blair is the least-trusted politician in the EU debate, followed closely by Nigel Farage…
Nearly six in ten (59%) people distrust the former Prime Minister when he talks about whether Britain should remain in the EU, with just 28% saying they trust him on the issue, according to the poll. Mr Blair is even distrusted by those whose views on Britain’s EU membership align closely with his own: only 42% of those who say they are definitely voting ‘in’ trust the ex-Labour PM, compared to 46% who say they distrust him.
Nigel Farage does not fare much better, with 54% saying they don’t trust him on the EU debate, and just over a third of the public (36%) saying they do. Although the UKIP leader is trusted by three-quarters (74%) of those definitely voting ‘out’ in an EU referendum, he is such a polarising figure to non-Ukippers that support for the EU has actually increased while UKIP has grown in prominence..
In terms of the actual voter preferences, it had this to say:
Most have a preference but remain uncertain: they are the ‘Leaners’, with 31% saying they are “leaning towards voting to stay in the EU” and 28% “leaning towards voting to leave the EU”. Both say they want to know what the conditions are before making up their minds. 13% simply can’t choose, answering ‘don’t know’
Surprisingly, their poll shows that the man most trusted in this whole affair is Cameron (with 49% trusting him), but…
The PM remains distrusted on Europe by 41% of the public, predominantly those whose minds are firmly set for ‘in’ or ‘out’. Cameron’s appeal is strongest among the ‘Leaners’.
The key message is that there are an awful lot of “leaners” who need swaying, and at the moment they trust Cameron more than Farage or Blair.
Today, the Telegraph published an interview with Nigel in which he says “Let me lead the ‘out’ campaign in the EU referendum”
Nigel shows a certain impatience with voices like those of Redwood and Oborne:
“The No campaign needs to get itself moving. All this nonsense from very snobby Tories that we should not dominate the campaign and I should go on holiday for six months – forget it!”
In terms of UKIP’s plans to get the Campaign going, the interview reports that Nigel will launch a campaign at a meeting with UKIP activists today. He will say:
“We are going to take the lead, we are going to get cracking. But we will at all times invite others to come along and share the platform with us. We will be launching a massive series of public events and meetings all over the country starting in September. These will be public meetings. They will be live web streamed. We are going to be busy, delivering leaflets through the doors by the million. We are not prepared to stand around and wait.”
The “drip, drip, drip” of continuous Pro-EU propaganda from the likes of the BBC, Murdoch’s media empire, a majority of MPs and Ministers, the EU itself and outfits like British Influence is there already.
I am certain that more will join in the debate over how the “Out” (or “No” if you prefer) campaign will be run, and who will lead it, but Nigel is right on one thing:
Whoever leads it, the campaign to save Britain has to start right now.