So who will be the first Conservative to pop their head above the parapet and say they support Britain’s exit from the chains of EU servitude? Hello, anyone? Do please wave because at the moment we can’t see you.
Not that the utter silence from the government benches should come as a surprise. David Cameron has been grovelling his way around Europe for the past month begging for help in keeping the UK in Europe and nobody within the party appears game enough to counter dear leader. Even those with a natural sympathy to the Conservative cause like Jill Kirby, former director of Margaret Thatcher’s favourite think tank the Centre for Policy Studies, see him as supine in negotiations before the gathered forces of Europe.
So much for the Eurosceptics we have been told lurk deep within Conservative ranks. As recently as last November we heard that as many as 200 Conservative MPs would be prepared to call for a Brexit. We haven’t heard a peep from any of them.
Which is a shame because somebody has to speak up soon. It won’t be Sir Bill Cash, the Tory MP who led the Maastricht rebels that challenged Sir John Major’s Conservative government from within during the 1990s. Cash told Mr Cameron to his face that he would not cause any trouble. One of Mr Cameron’s allies said it was “Bill Cash pledging undying loyalty”.
It will be hard for Douglas Carswell to speak in the Commons. If he is of a mind to, he has to be heard above the roar of the SNP’s 56 members shouting for their constituents.
The one person we know will be ignored from all sides of the political spectrum on the UK’s relationship with the EU will be Tony Blair. Research by British Future has found that the former Labour prime minister is the least trusted figure in the EU debate, with 59% of respondents saying they distrust the former PM on the question of whether Britain should remain in the bloc.
Ultimately it will be left to UKIP in general and Nigel Farage in particular to carry the fight. He will have to do it on behalf of UKIP’s 3.8 million voters who helped propel the party to unprecedented success in the general election and formed up behind their leader as the man to take the fight to Brussels.
If nobody will speak up aside from Farage, perhaps we should let the figures speak for themselves. We know the Tory government wants to renegotiate Britain’s membership of the EU, including curbing access to benefits, but it is making next to no headway with Europe.
David Cameron offers tinkering here and adjustments there but no substantive change to the fact that the EU demands freedom of movement within the borders of its members and the UK will never be allowed to change that.
EU leaders have ruled out reforming freedom of movement laws and that has helped drive net migration numbers into the UK to a 10-year high.
In total 824,154 people from around the world were registered to work in the UK in the year to March, a 37 per cent rise on 2014 and 44 per cent higher than before Mr Cameron became prime minister in 2010.
Three-quarters of all National Insurance registrations for foreign workers were from people from within the EU. On 152,636, Romania has now overtaken Poland on 115,606. The two eastern European countries alone account for a third of all foreign workers registered in the UK.
Those are the ones we know about. Thousands more have used this country’s porous borders to sneak across the Channel illegally and continue to do so.
They are here because they can be and nobody can stop them. Somebody has to oppose the policies of supranational EU institutions and support British sovereignty. This country should have a fundamental right to decide who comes to these shores and the manner in which they come.
Nigel Farage knows that and he will fight for it. A pity that he appears to have to do it on his own.