Against the odds, campaigners for Brexit are winning the argument on leaving the European Union (EU).
Call me biased, but we Brexiteers come across as so much sunnier, more optimistic and enthusiastic than the peevish, scaremongering Remainers. The tone of Brexit The Movie demonstrated this perfectly.
Yes, I’m sure in the foetid imaginations of all the Remain campaigners who haven’t seen it, it’s an angry essay in xenophobia and outraged Little Englanderdom full of cross middle-aged men who just won’t accept that the world has moved on since the atlas was coloured pink.
But anyone open-minded enough to watch the film will realise it’s nothing of the kind. It does the very thing that Brexiteers are always being accused of NOT doing by the Remain camp, viz. showing a positive vision of how Britain might look once it leaves the European Union.
Immigration isn’t mentioned once. Not because Durkin has copped out but because he understands that even without drawing attention to the elephant in the room, it’s more than possible to construct a coherent and compelling argument for Brexit.
What it boils down to is this: does Britain want to go on being shackled to the sclerotic, anti-democratic, moribund trading bloc that is the European Union or would it rather be liberated to set its own laws, regain its sovereignty and trade freely and profitably with the burgeoning rest-of-the-World economy?
Put like that, it’s a no-brainer. To prove his point, Durkin comes up with three paradigmatic models – one of them involving the very country small-minded, xenophobic, racist Brexit types are supposed to loathe: Germany.
Specifically, he refers to the Germany of just after the war: the place which, though bombed to rubble emerged from the ashes with extraordinary alacrity to become the world’s third largest economy.
What was the cause of this economic miracle, known as the Wirtschaftswunder?
Largely, the genius of a man whose name really ought to be better known: Ludwig Erhard, the long-serving Minister of Economics, who understood that the surest way to guarantee economic growth is through a massive programme of deregulation. The easier it is for entrepreneurs to do business, the faster an economy grows and the richer its people grow. (John Cowperthwaite, the last British Financial Secretary to run Hong Kong, worked on similar classical liberal principles).
Erhard’s economic liberalism – which many of his colleagues opposed – was in marked contrast to the British post-war policy of state ownership, rationing, regulation, labour restrictions, exchange controls and propping up hidebound, outmoded industries. That’s why Germany’s economy grew even as Britain’s declined.
Durkin’s second model is Switzerland which – amazingly, incredibly, unfathomably if you believe the specious scare stories being put out by the Remainers – enjoys massive prosperity despite lacking privileged membership of the EU trading bloc. Its GDP per capita is getting on for twice the United Kingdom’s.
And his third model is the mighty power Britain once was in the pre-First-World-War era before it became ashamed of its own greatness. This is not a jingoistic point – Durkin, a working class born former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party doesn’t go in for such things – but a straightforward economic and historical one.
Durkin nails the absurdity of a line you often hear from the Remain camp: that without EU membership Britain just couldn’t compete on the international stage. Yet we could – of course we could, as indeed we once did. Sure if you were unaware of history, you might find it implausible to conceive that a small, rainy island could be one of the world’s economic powerhouses. But that is what Britain demonstrably was – and could be again. We just need to regain our optimism, our self-confidence and get over all that self-loathing in which the English intellectual class has so long specialised.
I urge you to see this film. (And not just because I’m the first talking head you see in it). It’s brilliant, inspiring and uplifting. Also it’s free.
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