If Britain leaves the European Union then we’re all going to die. Orphaned kittens and stray puppies, their wounded paws tragically unbandaged, will wander the blackened streets mewling and yelping pitifully for their owners.
But they won’t last long for their cute little eyes will already have been burned out by the nuclear fireball that flattened every house in the city and turned every human – kids especially: the most promising, pretty and best-behaved ones will have died first, probably, weeping for their lost future – into a greasy pile of blackened bones which smelt very briefly of roast pork but now smells like the worst word in the history of lexicography… Brexit!
Or so Prime Minister David Cameron has been telling the world today in his latest escalation of Project Fear.
“Can we be so sure peace and stability on our continent are assured beyond any shadow of doubt? Is that a risk worth taking? I would never be so rash to make that assumption… What happens in our neighbourhood matters to Britain. That was true in 1914, 1940, 1989…. and it is true in 2016.”
With the shameless chutzpah and disingenuousness we’ve come to expect from the Remain camp, Cameron’s Foreign Secretary then went on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme to explain why Cameron’s speech certainly wasn’t saying anything as crass and literal as “if you vote for Brexit you’ll end up with war.”
Oh certainly not.
That’ll be why, to emphasise that this wasn’t remotely what he meant, Cameron invoked “serried rows of white headstones in lovingly tended Commonwealth war cemeteries”, “Blenheim. Trafalgar. Waterloo. Our country’s heroism in the Great War”, and Winston Churchill.
Nope. No veiled war references there then. No wrapping himself in the Union flag and English history in order to make the ludicrous suggestion that a vote for continued membership of the growing European superstate is a vote for patriotism, courage and tradition.
Though I’ve never had a particularly high opinion of politicians, the behaviour of the Remain camp in this referendum campaign really has taken the biscuit. Every day, they’ve mounted the rostrum to assure us, from the bottoms of their hearts, no word of a lie, that “black is white and white is black” – and that that’s why we must all vote “Remain.”
Cameron has been one of the worst offenders. He has, so far as I can remember, only ever been true to a single one of his promises: that he would be the “Heir to Blair.” That is, heir to the traditions of a prime minister so relentlessly, fantastically, impossibly mendacious he makes Pinocchio look like the young George Washington in front of the cherry tree.
Among the reasons why, of our Oxford generation, David Cameron is the one that ended up as Prime Minister, while contemporaries like Toby Young and I chose more honourable professions is this: it really is given to very, very few sentient creatures to be able to stand up on a stage and lie quite so blatantly with quite such pink-cheeked confidence and authority as our Dave. And we’re not talking politicians’ white lies, either. We’re talking provably wrong untruths: stuff that really doesn’t stand up to more than a few seconds’ scrutiny. Stuff, which, furthermore has already been analysed quite a bit over the last few weeks and found wanting. So how, in God’s name, does he feel able to carry on spouting such utter bullshit? Was he born without a conscience, a shame gland or what?
Let me give you some examples
Claim: Winston Churchill would have campaigned to Remain
When Churchill famously said in Zurich in 1946 that ‘We must recreate the European family in a regional structure called, as it may be, the United States of Europe,’ he was talking about keeping France and Germany in check. As he repeatedly made clear, he never wanted Britain to be part of this union, as he indicated when he said “‘We are with Europe but not of it. We are linked but not comprised”. And as he further demonstrated as Prime Minister by opposing Britain’s membership of the EU prototype, the European Coal and Steel Community.
Claim: “In the last few years, we have seen tanks rolling into Georgia and Ukraine. And of this I am completely sure. The European Union has helped reconcile countries which were at each others’ throats for decades.”
Ukraine? Reconciled? Really? It’s as divided as it ever has been between a pro-EU west and a pro-Russian east – a tension which the EU has only encouraged by making promises to the Ukraine it is quite incapable of fulfilling, let alone affording.
Claim: the EU has guaranteed peace.
This is, of course, what inspired lots of politicians who had experienced World War II to vote for the EU, often against their better judgement. But it’s not a claim that stands up to any scrutiny as Conservative MP Julian Lewis notes in this trenchant article. It is the entirely separate institution of NATO which has kept the peace in Europe – largely because its membership includes the only country in the West currently capable of fighting a major war, NATO. If we start deluding ourselves that the EU is capable of looking after its own security without American help – see, for example, the risible EU army which the EU’s advocates keep trying to pretend is not being planned – then we are going to be in deep deep trouble.
Claim: Britain is safer in the EU because of intelligence sharing against terrorism
Quite the opposite actually. There’s a lot of intelligence Britain afford to share with the EU precisely because some member states are simply incapable of keeping secrets. Most of the intelligence sharing that really matters occurs bilaterally, often outside the European Union – as Fraser Nelson notes here:
Intelligence works via bilateral arrangements – as Sir Richard Dearlove, another ex-MI6 chief, explained in his article for Prospectmagazine. The main exception to this is the Five Eyes, the name given to our intimate intelligence-sharing relationship with New Zealand, the US, Canada and Australia.
And this is a metaphor for international affairs more broadly. Britain’s natural network is global, not parochial. Geographical proximity doesn’t give us more in common with countries: the beauty of Europe lies in its glorious diversity. It is because of that diversity that the EU struggles to pull off collective security, or collective anything.
Claim: the EU protects us from terrorism
Yes. See how all that co-operation and those border controls prevented, for example, the Paris terror attacks. Nothing – as Douglas Murray argues here – is likely to make Europe less stable or more unsafe than its immigration policy, which enables potential terrorists to travel unchecked across the continent and which seems especially determined to welcome immigrants from Muslim countries who, on current form, show no inclination to integrate with their host culture. This is a recipe for the tension, political extremism and bloodshed we keep being assured the European Union was set up to prevent.