Thoughts on the referendum

It seems likely that the Eurorealist movement will face a moment of truth in the near future as the possibility of a referendum becomes more certain. If so there will be a number of issues which we must clarify before it is upon us.

The first is of course what exactly the question will be. As the pressure grows one can see the politicians frantically muddying the waters in a desperate effort to prevent the growing wish of the British people for full withdrawal being fulfilled. Although one expects this of Cameron and his ilk it is disappointing to see even Boris Johnson retreating from his previous position that an in-out question should be posed. On the 4th December, he said "It is high time that we had a referendum, and it would be a very simple question. Do you want to stay in the EU single market - yes or no? And if people don't think the new relationship is an improvement, then they will exercise their sovereign right to leave the EU." As any Eurorealist knows the sort of renegotiated arrangement proposed by Boris is not, and will not, be available, and the last sentence of his statement does not make sense as how can the people exercise their sovereign right to leave except by a straight No vote in an in-out referendum. It is the latter towards which we must be working.

Even if we clear the first hurdle of obtaining an unequivocal in-out question the Eurorealist movement must also come together to ensure that we are represented by those who can be relied upon to put forward sensible and consistent arguments. While UKIP is the obvious choice to take the major role there are others who have much to contribute, from organisations such as the Democracy Movement, LESC and CAEF and individuals such as Lord Stoddart of Swindon, Professor Alan Sked and certain members of the main parties like Daniel Hannan and Gisela Stuart. What we must avoid is the cause being undermined either by those with extreme and undemocratic agendas or weakened by the involvement of those, generally Tories, who claim to be Eurosceptic but are in fact out of sympathy with the ultimate aim of full withdrawal. As far is consistency is concerned we should always remember the warning by St Paul that "For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?"

Of course, as the debate takes place, without making unsustainable claims ourselves, must be ready to counter the lies and false assertions of the Europhiles. For example the parliamentary answer recently obtained by Lord Stoddart concerning trade can be used to ridicule those who insist we would have to obey EU rules when not a member while, as Alan Sked pointed out years ago, the alternative to being in the EU is not to be in the EU. We are not obliged to accept that we must join other groupings such as NAFTA once we are free of the EU.

It seems to me that the most important thing we must do is make it clear that we are not offering some sort of narrow minded, negative argument but are in fact happy and confident that the UK can have a prosperous future once free of the grip of Brussels. In his novel Podrostok the author Dostoevsky put forward the theory that, in the final analysis, human beings do not change their beliefs because of intellectual argument but because they have first become emotionally convinced of the truth of the proposition. If we can persuade the voters that, as Roosevelt said "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" and that they can treat the warnings of the Europhiles as meaningless phantoms intended to frighten children, while we are looking instead to the bright, sun lit uplands of Churchill's vision, then the battle will be won.

I am sure that others will have their own views as to how we should proceed but it is essential that we are not unprepared for what may be our best chance for generations to break free of rule by Brussels.