In today’s Daily Telegraph, Boris Johnson points out that Remain have nothing left to say, mouthing wordlessly in helpless frustration. Panic is taking over. He begins: “You know when someone is losing an argument because they suddenly get all rattled, and personal, and sometimes even a little bit hysterical. It is clear from their style of debate in the last few weeks that the Remain campaign is conscious that it is losing the argument, and losing comprehensively. To many fair-minded people – including those who had not previously given the matter much thought – it now seems obvious that the UK should leave the European Union.
Whatever the noble ambitions on which it was founded, the EU is an anachronism. It is increasingly anti-democratic; its supranational system is being imitated nowhere else on earth; and its economic policies are causing misery in many parts of the EU. It is sclerotic, opaque, elitist: different nations bound together by a centralised bureaucracy that ordinary people can neither understand nor vote out. It is an attempt to build a United States of Europe; to create a single political structure. And yet no senior Remainer has so far had the honesty to defend the project for what it is. No one on the Remain side has shown any shred of explicit federalist idealism; no one has called for Britain to join in “building Europe” or in creating a “European identity”. That is because they know that this ideology – though dominant in Brussels – would be viewed with alarm by the British public.So what do we get, instead of idealism? We get an unending and intensifying diet of fear. We are being bullied and brow-beaten into remaining in this failing system – and I think the public can see through it. As time goes on, I find more and more people can see that Britain would have a great future outside the EU – trading freely with the EU and the rest of the world, while engaging fully at an intergovernmental level with all the political and diplomatic questions in Europe. On every major question it is possible to take back control – and thrive.
Whether you express the figure as £350 million a week gross or £10.6 billion a year net, most people are amazed to discover how much we pay just to be in the EU. We could do with having that cash back. They can see that our current immigration policy is unfair and unbalanced and out of control – and they can also see that the Remain campaign has failed for months to answer the fundamental question. How can we control the rate – 333,000 net last year, a city the size of Newcastle – as long as we are in the EU?
The Remainers have nothing to say. Their mouths just open and shut, wordlessly. Above all, people are rumbling the great big fat lie at the heart of the whole thing: that the sacrifice of democracy – the 2,500 new EU laws imposed on us every year, costing £600 million a week for business – is somehow worth it for the economic benefits of the so-called single market.
In the last week we have had amazing testimonials from two of the biggest heroes of modern British manufacturing. I was thrilled when they spoke out, because I know the kind of pressure that all UK business leaders are facing from Project Fear. In their optimism, their vigour and their belief in this country, they sum up what the Leave campaign is all about. They are (Lord) Anthony Bamford, of the mighty digger firm JCB, and James Dyson the billionaire entrepreneur and inventor.
Now these people make machines: beautiful, complex, cutting-edge bits of technology. You might have thought that it was precisely for them – and their kind – that the “single market” was invented, so that their vacuum cleaners and backhoe loaders can circulate freely across the 510-million strong territory. You might have imagined that they would be passionate advocates of the system.
On the contrary – they both export colossal quantities to EU markets, and will continue to do so; but they both think we should get out of the EU, and that the whole thing is going in the wrong direction. Dyson is the No 1 brand leader in the German vacuum-cleaner market. Does he worry about tariffs, if we left? Of course not. The Germans would not dream of it: we Brits buy 820,000 German cars every year, worth about 20 billion euros. In fact we buy one fifth of Germany’s entire car output. As Dyson points out, tariffs would mean the Germans would be cutting their own throats. It won’t happen.
He wants to take back control of our law-making system, because he is fed up with the Brussels stitch-up, by which British ministers can be outvoted to the detriment of his company. And he wants to take back control of immigration – not because he is in any way hostile to immigrants. He is just infuriated by the imbalance in the system. There is no limit on EU migrants, but he has no way of hiring enough postgraduate engineers, because most people doing research in science and engineering at British universities are from outside the EU.
As for Lord Bamford, he has seen that the “single market” is in reality a political project that is turning inexorably into a single government of Europe. There is no need to be part of this expensive legislative machine in order to export goods or services into the EU. The latest figures show that between 1993 (the dawn of the single market) and 2015 there were 36 countries – including India, Russia, China, America, New Zealand, Canada, Brazil – who did better than the UK at exporting to the single market. They weren’t “in” it. They didn’t have Brussels making 60 per cent of their laws. And yet they did better than us.
It is time for this country to show some of the self-belief of these two great companies. It was only a few months ago that the Prime Minister was saying we would thrive mightily outside. He was right first time. As James Dyson says: “We will create more wealth and more jobs by being outside the EU. We will be in control of our destiny. And control, I think, is the most important thing in life and business.”
UPDATE: Vacuum cleaner maker Dyson has begun work on a £250m scheme to expand its UK research and development base as the business famed for its design innovations hopes to secure its position at the leading edge of technology.