1. “It will create uncertainty.” (Usually followed by the phrase “…and business hates uncertainty…”)
This is, literally, an infantile argument. Babies live in the present and want everything now. Grown ups understand the importance of deferred gratification – that is you need to accept a certain amount of present pain (be it the tedium of learning your times tables or practising your golf swing) in order to enjoy future gain.
It also dishonestly assumes that the status quo is always preferable to the instability caused by change. If this were so, no one would ever divorce their nightmare of a wife/husband or move to a bigger, more comfortable house. Nor would Britain have quit the European Exchange Mechanism (an action which led to a decade’s economic growth) or gone to war with Adolf Hitler.
And it’s woefully short-termist. We’re not voting on what’s going to happen to the sterling or the FTSE or even the jobs market in the next few months or years. We’re deciding on what’s best for the long term wellbeing of Britain and her people.
2. “The pound will fall“.
It may. (Benefitting UK exporters whose products will become, relatively, better value) Then it may rise. Or not. This is one of the advantages of having a floating exchange rate: the price of sterling is a reflection of how Britain’s economic prospects are seen vis a vis the rest of the world, rising and falling in accordance with economic cycles, acting as a corrective mechanism that brings stability. Unlike the poor sods in the Eurozone who have to put up with a one-size-fits-all-currency run in the interests of Germany.
3. “It grants us a place at the top table“
Yes, a table that we’d be sitting at anyway owing to the fact that we’re the world’s fifth largest economy with the world’s fourth highest military budget, which once owned, ran or traded with more than half the atlas, which invented most of the world’s sports, wrote most of its best literature and which speaks the universal language (because we invented that too).
4. “Membership of a club.”
Whose exorbitant (£18 billion a year) annual membership fee entitles us to what, exactly? Overpriced food and drink kept high by protectionism and tariffs? Check. A non-exclusive admissions policy which means that each year we have to accept more and more riff raff who won’t even observe the club’s most basic codes (no raping in the billiard room, etc)? Check. An ever-increasing body of pettifogging rules and regulations which make it harder to do business or indeed anything else we want without some finger-wagging busybody telling us “No you can’t use your usual weedkiller on the garden anymore. Nor can you buy alphonso mangoes. Nor will we allow you a kettle that comes to the boil quickly. Das ist Verboten!”? Check. Crap facilities increasingly under strain because of all the new club members? Check.
5. “We’re not quitters“. (David Cameron)
If only the British Expeditionary Force had stayed behind in Dunkirk in 1940 to be annihilated: that would have taught Herr Hitler a lesson he would never have forgotten. And what about all those idiot smokers thinking it might be a good idea to give up their healthy habit? Or the gamblers who’ve just made a fortune on the roulette table and are now wondering whether to reinvest it on number 13? Quitters: what do they know about anything, eh?
6. “Inward-looking”; “Little Englander“
Fantastic people the Spanish: lovely tapas; delicious chorizo; charming, laid-back attitude; ditto the entrepreneurial, geeky, hot-blonde-chick-producing Estonians; the big-hearted Italians with their marvellous ice-creams, pizzas and arias; etc. Thing is, though, they’ve already got their own MPs to represent them. If you’re a British politician your job is to represent the interests of the people who elected you, all of whom are – at least in theory – British. There is nothing “inward looking” about wanting to protect their interests – hello: it’s your ****ing job – any more than there is anything weird or irrational or hateful about English people who want to favour policies which are good for the English.
7. “I’m not sitting here for one minute saying this organisation is perfect…” (David Cameron;)
“I’m not saying Fred and Rosemary West were always the most conventional of married couples…”
8. “Our history is bound with Europe‘s” (See Niall Ferguson who appears to have decided that on this occasion he’d rather play the courtier than be an historian)
Yeah, in the early 18th century we helped relieve it from the tyranny of Louis XIV, in the early 19th century we freed it from the shackles of the Napoleonic Empire, and in the early 20th century we sacrificed our Empire and the flower of our youth in order to rescue it from Germany. And on every occasion the reason we could do this because we retained our independence from the Continent, true to Churchill’s dictum that: “If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, she must always choose the open sea”.
9. “The EU is as keen for reform as we are.”
See also: “I posted it yesterday”; “Yes of course I’ll still love you in the morning”; “No I won’t come in your mouth.”
10. “We can influence Europe better from within.”
Influence? What influence? As Douglas Murray puts it in this magisterial National Review essay “No country has been voted against more. No country has been listened to less. The promise that it will be different tomorrow will not do.”
11. “The EU brings us peace and stability“
Murray again: “From north to south, west to east, every country in Europe is now experiencing an upsurge of populist revolt. From Marine Le Pen’s Front National to the Sweden Democrats and Austria’s Freedom party, all are objecting to the lack of democratic accountability in the EU, the dissolution of European culture by mass migration, and the destruction of national identity by an entity that believes national identity is the problem. If getting out of the EU is a “leap in the dark,” as the prime minister likes to say, why is that worse than locking yourself into a room that is clearly getting darker, with phantoms whose outlines are already clear?”
12. “This is too dangerous a time to be leaving the European Union.”
So when you’re in a building that’s about to burn down is the sensible thing to stay inside? I don’t think so. You step out of danger to avoid the inevitable collapse – then you’re better placed to launch a rescue mission for all those poor sods who couldn’t escape. This is what investor Jim Mellon argues – and he has a track record of spotting looming economic disasters, having written a book predicting the 2008 crash. The collapse of the European Union is going to be ugly, painful and messy. We really don’t want to be there when it happens. We want to be outside in the sunshine – strong, independent, free: and a hell of sight richer…
13. “We might be able to survive Brexit but what about the smaller European countries who need us to set an example?”
Too right they need us to set an example. Poland and Austria are being punished for daring to elect Conservative governments; Italy has had its democratically elected choice of president deposed and replaced by a Goldman-Sachs trained technocrat; Greece is under German occupation for the first time since the 1940s… What they all want, desperately, is for some brave soul to take the lead and show them that there’s a way out of Colditz. If just one prisoner can make a home run…