Another day, another “Eurosceptic” going native? In fact, on first glance, it looks like we may have two today, following the news that the Tory leader in Brussels Syed Kamall will not yet commit to campaigning for “out” during Britain’s European referendum. Now it is the turn of Daniel Hannan MEP, once thought of as Eurosceptic royalty, to set out his stall.
This website has long warned about the moderate “Outers”, who have coalesced in a campaign led by Matthew Elliott, and are increasingly cocksure about themselves getting the official Electoral Commission designation as the out campaign. UKIP’s Douglas Carswell has even called the other team, led by Nigel Farage and Arron Banks, “losers”.
Now his best friend and co-author Daniel Hannan has chirped up with a similarly pusillanimous message to that of Mr. Kamall. Writing on the Conservative Home website, Mr. Hannan surely attacks the Prime Minister’s renegotiation plans. Westminster insiders know the lack of detail from Mr. Cameron is basically a plan to lower public expectations for when he either announces real “red lines” or fails to get any movement whatsoever from Europe. That’s why Hannan’s language is so important, and it is why the Vote Leave group led by Matthew Elliott is not just “Vote Leave” but “Vote Leave Take Control”.
Do they want to be able to pivot to campaigning for “In” under the “Take Control” banner if the PM gets what they all want from Europe? Mr Hannan today tweeted a quote from Simon Jenkins: “Even EU supporters should #VoteLeave, for now, so as to get better terms…”. See that? “For now“.
And Hannan sets this out clearly in his article today:
“Nothing would make me happier than for the PM to come back from Brussels with a deal that we could support”.
He goes on:
“Now I like David Cameron: I voted for him as party leader and, other than on the EU, I think he’s doing a cracking job as PM. It’s thanks to him that we’re getting the referendum at all.”
Hold on. Here I was under the belief that actually it was UKIP and Nigel Farage that had forced the PM’s hand. Now we’re crediting Cameron with delivering a referendum he originally promised in 2005, then backed down on, but was forced to come forward with again after UKIP won the European Elections and took two defections?
No doubt this is partly why Messrs Carswell and Reckless joined UKIP. It forced the PM to promise a referendum. And perhaps they’ll be remembered for that too. But Kippers reading this will be under no illusions, Carswell ain’t a Kipper, and he is Mr Hannan’s best mate.
So is this all just a very cleverly thought out game that the rest of us just don’t get? Maybe, but I have a feeling these guys are playing as fast and loose as anyone when it comes to Britain’s membership of the EU. See Mr Hannan’s next statements:
“David Cameron is deliberately lowering expectations so that even the paltriest change can be sold as an unexpected triumph”.
I’ve said this for… ever?
“They might even try to get away with calling it “associate membership”.” says Hannan, failing to note that his co-signatory in the sock-puppet Conservatives for Britain group, John Redwood, has called the idea “great news” on several occasions.
So do I believe Hannan is becoming an “In-er”? I’m not sure. He says:
“Our key aims – the supremacy of UK law on our own soil, more freedom to strike bilateral trade deals with non-EU states and the right to determine who can settle on our territory – are remarkably moderate”.
But they’re impossible asks of a union that wishes to be bigger, and closer. There will be no treaty change along these lines. The EU simply could not afford to allow Britain to start pulling at that thread.
But then why does he say: “most Eurosceptics would settle for such an option” followed by: “If the polls swing far enough our way… Brexit will become unnecessary.”
Either he’s playing a really dangerous game, giving succour to the In campaign, or he’s got an ace up his sleeve. God I hope it’s the latter.