One of the oft-touted leaders of the eurosceptic ‘out’ campaign has come out in favour of staying inside the European Union, if David Cameron’s renegotiation leads to a ‘two tier’ Europe.
Matthew Elliott, who led the successful No2AV campaign against electoral reform in Britain, has been a long-standing Eurosceptic voices in Westminster. He founded the small-goverment, Tax Payers’ Alliance pressure group, as well as the pro civil-liberties group Big Brother Watch.
But he has now broken ranks with many of his Eurosceptic fellow-travellers, according to Isabel Oakeshott, who reports his comment: “If the Government gets a two-tier Europe, we’re very much in.”
This latest development one in a long-list of so-called ‘Out’ campaigners softening their demands of Europe, with backbench Tory MP recently telling a meeting of the Eurosceptic Bruges Group that ‘associate membership’ of the European Union was a distinct and realistic possibility, echoing the comments of former UKIP MEP David Campbell-Bannerman, who wrote in the Telegraph this weekend: “We need a European Economic Area (EEA) style agreement like Norway’s, except within the EU – a sort of ‘associate membership’ of the Brussels club”.
Even UKIP’s own Suzanne Evans has previously claimed that she would be in favour of staying inside the EU if there was the right kind of reform. The Telegraph reported that Ms. Evans was asked the question in a pre-election hustings: “if you could negotiate reform you were happy with would you stay in?” Her reply: “Yes, probably.”
But the claims over ‘associate membership’ have been blasted by UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who told Breitbart London: “There are many [Eurosceptics] who will be bought off. Associate membership will be no different to what we have with the European Union now – with some ‘concessions’ to make it look like a successful renegotiation. It is part of a same stitch up deal that EU leaders are offering Britain”.
Elliott’s comments have been seized upon by long-standing Eurosceptics such as Dr Richard North, who lampooned the comments on his EUReferendum website. He wrote:
It is 2020 and the EU Referendum is behind us. Against all the odds, the “no” campaign actually won, although nobody is yet sure quite how or why. One theory is that the sense of outrage after the leader of the “no” campaign, Matthew Elliott, switched sides mid-stream and joined the “yes” campaign had driven people to vote against the government.
For dyed-in-the-wool ‘Out’ campaigners, Mr Elliott’s comments will come as a major disappointment. His Business for Britain organisation has long been seen as an effective counter-weight to the endless ‘In’ campaigning of the mainstream media and large corporates of Britain.
For the ‘Out’ campaign to lose their support to a ‘two-tier’ plan floated by Europhiles would be a hammer blow.