Bonnie Prince Charlie on a Push Bike

Glen Newey

So it's 23 June for the EU referendum. This afternoon Cameron bigged up his foreseeably footling deal with Merkel and the Eurocrats, insisting that he'd secured the UK's special-snowflake status on ever-closer union, the Euro, in-work migrant benefits, the handbrake on EU laws. Dave had done his best to 'battle for Britain' – but the view from his own party seems to be that his best is still crap. In Britain's previous in/out poll, in 1975, the leavers fielded Tony Benn, Barbara Castle, Peter Shore and Michael Foot, with Enoch Powell for political balance. This time the leavers' A-team is Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage, Iain Duncan-Smith and Nigel Lawson, balanced by George Galloway.

Cameron lumbered himself with this albatross in 2013 because he was scared of Ukip. Fear will bulk large in the campaign – of the 'unknown', of migrants coming to ravish Britain's welfare system and even, in some of the dafter alarmism, its womenfolk. Cameron recently played the xenophobic card in favour of Remain. This was grossly inept of him: in the long run, scaremongering about foreigners pouring in to steal our jobs, our benefits, our asylum and all the rest, only does leavers' work for them. Beside this, talk about how marvellous the EU is for 'business' cuts little ice. Aware of the problem, Cameron has starting trotting out that Brexit is a 'leap in the dark' – a venerable Tory phrase, applied by Lord Derby to his own 1867 Reform Act. Then the aim was to hurry through a bill for fear of something worse from the Whigs. Now the aim seems to be to keep the tabloids and Nigels at bay.

Johnson ever more resembles something extruded by a 3D printer, to a blueprint by Donald Trump – but without Trump's brute in-the-moment frankness. The mayor of London's opportunism and lack of care with the national interest has already drawn a rebuke from Lord Heseltine, which seems like King Herod moaning about a lack of crèches. Presumably Johnson's thinking was that today's local Tory parties, largely if not overwhelmingly Europhobe, won't elect a Brussels-fancier. Had he joined Remain, his best outcome would be no better than Osborne's, whereas the worst would be career death. Either way he'd be branded a metropolitan elitist Islingtonian Europhiliac, while as a leaver the worst that can befall him is to become blue-heads' paladin of dashed hope, Bonnie Prince Charlie on a push bike.

Johnson's intervention may add a few percentage points to Leave. Its odds have already shortened to around 7-4, though people may end up miffed that that he's hazarding the future of their state on his ambition. Leave may also swell with the Brexity froth from orifices such as the Sun (controlled by US citizen Rupert Murdoch) and the Telegraph (owned by tax-swerving Brecqhuo-residents the Barclay brothers). Then there's the Daily Mail, now 89 per cent owned by the non-dom fourth Viscount Rothermere, whose dividends are funnelled to him via a trust in Bermuda, and the über-Europhobe Express, owned by the billionaire pornographer Richard Desmond, who slalomed round HMRC via paper loans from Luxembourg (effective rate: under 1 per cent). The Brexit revolution offers a new spin on the American one: (over-)representation without taxation.

Meanwhile, the demographics of both the Remain and Leave leaderships are sliver thin. Each side's figureheads are very white and very male. Both Cameron and Johnson boast the full Eton-Oxford-Bullingdon CV. Also on Boris's team is the tax-shielded Etonian plutocrat and Tory candidate for the London mayoralty, Zac Goldsmith. Last week even the Etonian Prince William was at it, nudging Britons away from Brexit. Maybe there'll be an intervention from the Etonian Archbishop of Canterbury, giving Jesus's line on qualified majority voting; the two sides might as well whole-hog it and sport Wall Game jerseys. Small wonder if sickened Scottish or other nationalists feel tempted to vote tactically for Leave on the basis that it will speed independence.

Before Cameron's pantomime turn in Brussels last weekend, the Mail quoted Leo Amery's cri de coeur in the Commons on 2 September 1939, when Hitler had just invaded Poland: 'Speak for England!' (in 1939, as now, other bits of the UK seem not to have counted). Under the first Viscount Rothermere, the Mail had tirelessly championed appeasement, as well as backing Moseley ('Hurrah for the Blackshirts!', 'Give the Blackshirts a helping hand', etc.) and opposed Jewish immigrants escaping fascism. 'Who will speak for England?', piped its headline on 2 February. Now we know the answer.


  • 23 February 2016 at 8:22am
    cufflink says:
    Stupendous stuff, and of course a copy goes on file, but where? My Machiavelli papers are filed under Skinner and my Hobbes under Newey, so perhaps 'Orwell' then might do as a fresh start.
    It is rumoured that the nation of Oceania is currently offering life membership at a discount to prospective peripheral Airstrips that are tired and weary of Eurasian volatility and want a higher rate of self interest to play with; and more importantly are placed remote from the pressures of pandemic migrations.
    If we stay Eurasian it will be a game of mettre en abime (without the circumflex) and a bit iffy, whereas cutting free would leave us (UK) a long way away from this new and uncertain extended family.
    Do not speak of England, but keep in mind that old lady in the City who holds the Deeds of security.

  • 23 February 2016 at 8:59am
    denismollison says:
    "Small wonder if sickened Scottish or other nationalists feel tempted to vote tactically for Leave on the basis that it will speed independence."

    I think you'll find that the nationalists' calculation is the opposite - they will vote for Remain while hoping that England votes for Leave - see, e.g.:

    • 29 February 2016 at 2:33am
      Amateur Emigrant says: @ denismollison
      It is easily observed that many unionists have great difficulty understanding Scottish nationalist positions:

  • 23 February 2016 at 11:30am
    Rikkeh says:
    What's really sad is that a large chunk of Britain (and nearly all of our media) cannot think of our relationship with continental Europe for more than a few minutes without invoking a war that ended over 70 years ago.

  • 24 February 2016 at 3:58am
    Graucho says:
    Mr. Johnson realised very quickly that the odds are on a remain vote, ... "and always keep ahold of nurse For fear of finding something worse". If he supported remain and this was the outcome, then the outers, not a bunch of gracious losers, would see to it that anybody, but anybody, would succeed Cameron rather than he. The only mystery to me in all of this is why the rest of the EU want us to stay. We've never believed in the project and done everything we can to derail it. The benefits of Brexit for Britain are debatable, but I'm convinced that it will be a good thing for the EU.

  • 24 February 2016 at 8:01pm
    davidnoelgardner says:
    From the European mainland the reign of Merkel and Germany over the EU is devastatingly lived and real and horrific, stomach churning today. The collapse of the rule of law, holding Europe's flank wide open to massacres as in the Paris massacre, social and political and economic order was predictable in Merkel's unilateral inviting in of entire nations predictably smashing sovereign borders and feeding billions into the criminal traffikers as well as holding the door open to any and all from jihadi regions where we are at war to enter unchecked. The Paris massacre of November 2015 was the work of jihadis who were allowed to enter Europe unchecked along with Merkels millions. That tens of thousands are not yet gathered at Calais is because France has closed its Schengen border or the hundreds of thousands let in anonymously and totally unchecked by Merkel would be camped in Calais now.
    This has indeed changed the landscape in much of Europe. Merkel runs the EU as her own personal fiefdom and is allowed to do so. She has called a second EU Council Summit on refugees to suit the dates of her German election no doubt to fix whatever she thinks will delude the voter in seeing things differently from what they indeed are.
    The level of knife crime, assaults on women and children, the ominous danger in all public spaces, the squandering undemocratically of tax payer Treasuries, the social and economic disorder, the ravaging of the borders and internal safety with a populace in the millions imported from jihahi regions and warring civil war regions where we are at war and from where the petri dish of savage violence amongst themselves and in the massacres and the continual threats of massacres of the EU public are now well enmeshed in the EU heartland and cannot be swept under the rug. That extreme groups would rise was totally foreseable and they will remain the only option to the public with the Orwellian grip on democractic processes and dialogue and censorship, silence and undemocratic action in place by the governments in Germany, Sweden and Austria. Women in Poland, Germany, Sweden and Denmark have stopped venturing out except for absolute necessities and work, children are held close and on a tight leash as police guard swimming pools, and savage violent rapes and robberies with trickery and malice are common each day.
    Germany has unleashed this and now follows it up with the subterfuge of needing to offer Turkey visa free entry and fast track membership of the EU to deal with the catastrophy self inflicted unilaterally on the entire European continent by Merkel.
    Germany triggered another devastation resulting in massive ethnic massacres and the dismemberment of an entire region in the far too hasty recognition of Croatia as an independant nation, Germany's good partner in the Second World War.
    Germany will reduce Europe, the land and us the people, to rubble over and over again.
    Britain does need to be on the outside of the EU to be free of any further entrapment by Germany in the dominance of that dysfunctional entity, the EU. The stranglehold will get tighter and Britain has no choice but to be out of that hold.
    Britain can be economically and politically independent just as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. And must have the distance to watch and self protect rather than be victim to Germany's catastrophic hold on the EU which even since the Second World War has unleashed massive destruction.
    Britain will not have the power to stand aside and escape the whiplash from Germany as long as Britain is in the EU.
    The only way to have any sovereign power and measured self defence is to be outside the EU. The other EU nations are weak and crumble to Germany which bullies and fists them in the face if they disobey with the German clout in finance and trade.
    Britain is now also caught into this web and is victim to Germany's aggression and mendacity and Germany's dna capacity for devastation.
    We have sacrificed generations for the peace, the rule of law, the Enlightenment values, and have to be out of the EU to keep hold of those for ourselves in our life times and for our children and generations to come.
    Or we will leave them to the mercy of Germany's triggered foreseeable predictable beyond imagination horrors and devastations again and again.
    And last but not the least, Cameron is enormously gifted as a barefaced remorseless liar and empty and futile as his negotiations are, they have to be even more fragile and worthless and ominous and devious than what his barefaced lies conceal and claim.

    • 24 February 2016 at 9:56pm
      Graucho says: @ davidnoelgardner
      I'll take that as a leave.

    • 24 February 2016 at 10:44pm
      davidnoelgardner says: @ Graucho
      The only choice for Britain for survival in more ways than one, to function as a vibrant and robust Parliamentary democracy and the freedom to determine what the future will be and have the autonomy and power to act on that.
      Absolutely the only moral one with history and the present staring us with clear evidence of that as the sole way forward, to make this essential singular decision now to safeguard us and our generations to come, yes, Brexit.

    • 29 February 2016 at 2:22am
      Amateur Emigrant says: @ davidnoelgardner
      Thanks for the clarification.

    • 1 March 2016 at 11:28pm
      John Cowan says: @ davidnoelgardner
      I see you have learned a lot of words for large numbers. Very impressive! #positivepoliteness #thingsincommon #american

  • 1 March 2016 at 3:42pm
    joostdirkzwager says:
    As an observer from the other side of the Channel I am baffled by the absence of historical memory in this debate. For close to 400 years Britain's strategy has consisted of countering any attempt by a continental power to dominate Europe. William III against Louis XIV, Pitt against Napoleon, two world wars to resist Germany, and the cold war against the USSR. The core problem of Europe is the preponderant position of Germany, economically and demographically. A Brexit will lead to an even stronger voice of Berlin in continental affairs. How can that be in Britain's interest?

    • 3 March 2016 at 4:21pm
      davidnoelgardner says: @ joostdirkzwager
      This is precisely why Britain should be out of the EU. The whiplash from Germany's reach in the EU is what Britain should be far removed from rather than entangled in Orwellian strangleholds and cobwebs of spun bureaucracy to curtail any action in the face of Germany's repeated unilateral stupendously destructive acts that have propelled Europe and the EU into unnecessary and a shattered democracy and once again sacrifices from the individual European and EU citizen of their peace, rule of law, Treasuries, lives, as now.
      Germany and Merkel should have brought the Merkel millions by German ships and airplanes directly from Turkey into Germany. There was and is absolutely no need to shatter EU's external borders ,deluge Greece, smash sovereign national borders and violently attack sovereign border forces by aggressive Merkel licensed millions, bring in jihadis unchecked, and other assaults on the rule of law and peace and lives of the EU that are too numerous to list and well known.
      For Jews Europe to day is ominous again and raises the specter of the 20s 30s and 40s, as the millions are by and large dyed in the wool violently racist towards Jews anywhere and everywhere with a vehement self righteousness. It is fact that Jews are unable to be safe in the streets of Malmö and Copenhagen and many other European cities because the self licensed physical and verbal abuse from the same immigrants as are the millions streaming in. The demographic alteration instantly cast upon EU countries by Merkel has raised the threshold for the mainly unchecked violence against Jewish men women and children throughout the EU. Copenhagen killing of the Jewish man outside the Synagogue and the shoppers in the Kosher Supermarket, and the children and Rabbi in France, etc etc etc. are just the most violent unsuppressable display of the danger that lurks constantly for Jews in Europe.
      The mainstream politicians pander to the growing electorate of Mid East voters and rant and rev up their anti Israel clamouring while shrugging off their responsibility for the Jewish refugee population of Israel and the Jewish refugees from these same Mid East countries.
      Is it time to leave? Many many are from all across the EU and it behoves history to see the glaring unspeakable once again dangers risen again in the EU and Europe.
      And as in the 20s 30s and 409s the extreme anti immigrant groups and anti minority groups and political parties have risen hugely in the polls and play a key role as the only groups voicing the anger and frustration of the majority voters in the EU nations who have been disenfranchised in this undemocratic invasion of their borders and lives and bankrupting of their Treasuries.

      Are we pretending Paris did not happen? are we trying to sweep under the rug that many of the actors in the Paris Massacre of November 2014 came in with the Merkel millions unchecked free then and now to massacre and by their own reckoning even then at that point in November 2015 90 Isis fighters ahad entered the EU along with the refugees unchecked.,
      Britain did not allow any and all from Germany to stream into Britain during the Second World War.
      Britain guarded its borders.
      Britain needs to be out of the EU to regain that independence to guard its borders as it has done for millennia successfully and to disentangle from the surreptitious and dangerous grip of Germany on the EU and Europe.
      Soon it will the weaker nations of Europe who will look to Britain to bring peace to the EU with the USA at its side.
      It is safer that Britain is extricated and able to without being muffled by Germany in its EU cobweb and to be on the alert and rein Germany in by being outside. From inside it is called to play along as if dead with Germany's mendacity and deceit and capacity to reduce to rubble with fist and boot.
      So for all the other EU nations, it is best for them that Britain extricate itself and has that good long totally sovereign and independant stand alone view of Germany, free of any mutuality or obligation or Orwellian double speak bureaucratic noose to act and do so with sovereignty and freedom.
      NATO chief testified to Congress today that there is a cancer of terrorism in the migrants streamning in and the same day as the thousands of boats continue to arrive across the Aegean into Greece the EU Commission insists that all border controls in Schengen should be removed which is in the face of the NATO Chief's testimony and also in the face of totally open unmanned external borders and now by diktat all internal borders brought in for survival itself against Merkel's millions ravaging EU nations should now disappear.

      Cameron has not a word to say about ongoing headline news of the total breakdown of external and internal security of Europe and the EU. He thought he would cover it up by holding the EU Referendum before the next expected ;erkel tsunami in the late summer of 2016.
      Facts Cameron, speak up. And his silence is exactly why Britain is unsafe in the EU.

  • 3 March 2016 at 7:23pm
    davidnoelgardner says:
    The madness shattering the EU revealed, (In The Local Germany today),

    "We have to find sustainable solutions that we will still be able to justify tomorrow," Merkel said. "Above all, [we need] solutions that don't set up something on one side that other countries simply have to deal with."

    Familiar abrogation of all sanity and civilized order..

  • 3 March 2016 at 8:20pm
    davidnoelgardner says:
    It is the EU Schengen open borders that allows and creates the Calais havoc at Britain's borders.
    Remaining in the EU is hardly the rational solution by a long shot.
    Britain has to defend its borders as it did in many times when threatened in history.
    The EU and Schengen throw crisis levels of mayhem and danger that arrive at Britain borders uncontrollable by the external and internal lawlessness and chaos of the EU.

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