In a severe shock to the Prime Minister, Steve Hilton— a former director of strategy for David Cameron famous for his informal dress and penchant for cycling — has publicly declared his support for leaving the European Union (EU), saying membership of the politico-trading bloc makes the UK “literally ungovernable.”
Steve Hilton (pictured) is one of the Mr. Cameron’s oldest and closest confidants, both professionally and personally. As one of those credited with persuading him to stand for the Tory Party leadership, and godfather to his late son Ivan, the policy guru’s public support for Brexit is a powerful blow to the Prime Minister.
Mr. Hilton used an opinion piece in the Daily Mail to urge Britain to leave the EU in order to free itself from “distant, centralised processes we hardly understand, let alone control”.
Drawing on his time working for the Prime Minister, he explained how he came to realise the UK’s top EU diplomat — Britain’s Permanent Representative to the European Union, Sir Kim Darroch — “literally didn’t understand how it worked.” Mr. Hilton’s criticism was not aimed at Sir Kim, but at “the system”. He explained:
It’s become so complicated, so secretive, so impenetrable that it’s way beyond the ability of any British government to make it work to our advantage.
Mr. Hilton bases his conclusions on a “pragmatic, non-ideological assessment of how the EU operates”, which he said shows that “as long as we are members, our country cannot be ‘run’.” He added:
Membership of the EU makes Britain literally ungovernable, in the sense that no administration elected by the people can govern the country.
Being pragmatic, he accepts that compromise is key to governing, but stressed that compromises imposed by the EU are quite different. He explained that “in a democracy, the compromises are clear and transparent and can be argued over and influenced by the people who are affected by them” but that “no such possibility exists in the grotesquely unaccountable EU.”
Mr. Hilton’s case against the EU is summed up in just a few short paragraphs. After he described himself as “pro-market, pro-enterprise, pro-trade, pro-putting power in people’s hands” he continued:
The EU does the opposite. It is anti-market, stifling innovation and competition with its statism, corporatism and bureaucracy.
It is anti-enterprise, acting in the interests of the big businesses that have corruptly captured the levers of power in Brussels through their shameless lobbying and insider deal-making, enabling a gradual corporate takeover of our country.
The European Union is anti-trade, locking developing countries out of world markets with its evil Common Agricultural Policy that feather-beds French farmers while keeping African farmers trapped in poverty — and despair.
And I don’t think even the EU’s most fervent supporters would ever claim that it ‘puts power in people’s hands’. The whole point of the EU is to take power out of people’s hands in pursuit of a greater good.
Making specific reference to the Prime Minister’s attempted renegotiation of EU membership, which sought to disperse rather than centralise power, Mr. Hilton said it is “perfectly obvious to everyone, including Mr Cameron, that no such reorientation will ever be countenanced.” He added:
The arrogant and dismissive treatment of Britain’s relatively modest demands in the 2015/2016 negotiations shows that the EU is just not interested in anything other than superficial change.
Mr. Hilton suggests a novel way of looking at the referendum, not as a choice between Remain or Leave but “between leaving, and joining a new EU.” He warned:
Because the EU after a British vote to stay would be a very different creature from the one we have today. It would be the EU unleashed, freed from the constraints of having to placate the pesky British with their endless complaining and threats to leave.
Once they know we will never leave, all our leverage will be gone. Look how they treated a British Prime Minister armed with the threat of Brexit. Can you imagine how they would treat a future PM without such a powerful card to play?
In concluding his thorough critique of the EU Mr. Hilton conceded that voting for Brexit is not without risk, but is nevertheless the “ideal and idealistic choice for our times. Taking back power from arrogant, unaccountable, hubristic elites and putting it where it belongs. In people’s hands.”