As June 23rd rumbles into view the debate, such as it is, is reaching new levels of hysteria with the Prime Minister this morning citing the increased risk of a ground war in Europe as a reason not to leave the EU. That follows utter nonsense promulgated by ex heads of intelligence over the weekend in a letter to the Sunday Times, one of which has already been discredited with the disclosure that he said completely the opposite in a recent private conversation. The spooks, whose entire careers are based on disinformation and manipulation, should get back in their Box.
The problem for the Remain campaign is that the British voter has so far been implacably unmoved by scare tactics and misinformation from both sides. It is a bigger problem for Remain because they need to mobilise their voters on the day whereas the Brexit camp are already motivated to make an active choice. Remain will also suffer because many students, who generally are more relaxed about the status quo, will have left university, some will have cocked up their voter registrations and be unable to vote from home, others will be travelling while some will find it too much trouble to get out of bed.
In general, the campaigns have been unimaginative and negative. That largely reflects the quality of our politicians and comes as no surprise at all to any of us. Neither side is really pitching a positive vision of what their favoured outcome would look like. There are no sunlit uplands to behold, only scorched earth if we don't vote their way.... apparently.
There is however, a genuine thirst for knowledge out there, certainly among people to whom I have spoken, and a frustration that there is no balance sheet of facts on which to base a fair and measured decision. That is, voters seem to me to be treating the referendum with much more earnest reverence than are either the campaign leaders or the media.
It has long been my view that on the day most voters will disregard the hyperbole, walk into the voting booth and go with their gut instinct. Like it or not, immigration will be a big factor in nudging that instinct. Many of our citizens see their life chances and opportunities being impacted by unrestricted immigration and the flavour and character of their homeland changing in years when before it would have happened imperceptibly over decades or centuries. Many Remain campaigners simply will not accept this but then many of them are those least affected by immigration or benefit directly from cheaper labour. I am well versed in the advantages of selective immigration just as I am of the unintended consequences of the current situation in which we find ourselves. No one is suggesting we slam the door shut forever but the current policy is simply unsustainable. Here then, are some of the facts from Migration Watch UK that will be weighing on voters minds,
- The current scale of migration to the UK, 330,000 a year, of which roughly half is from the EU, is completely unsustainable.
- As a result of this mass immigration our population is projected to rise by half a million every year – the equivalent of a city the size of Liverpool – for as long as immigration is permitted on the present scale.
- England is already twice as crowded as Germany and 3.5 times as crowded as France.
- The additional population growth makes congestion worse and adds to the pressures on public services. This comes at a time when public spending is being reduced.
- One in four children born in England and Wales is to a foreign born mother. The rise in the number of births has put pressure on NHS maternity services.
- It has also led to a shortage of school places. 60% of local authorities will have a shortage of primary school places by 2018.
- The UK has a serious housing crisis. Mass immigration is the main reason for the additional demand. We must build a new home every six minutes for the next 20 years to accommodate the additional demand for housing from new migrants.
- Population growth on this scale renders integration of newcomers virtually impossible.
- Three quarters of the public want to see immigration reduced and half of them want it cut by a lot.
- To stop the rapid rise in the UK’s population size, net migration would have to be reduced to well below 100,000 a year. It is currently at over 300,000.
The Remain campaign also makes the galloping assumption that all is well within the EU. It most certainly is not. The EU is rotten to the core and is unravelling from within as events in Greece over the weekend demonstrate. 66% of Germans are now against Merkel and there are many across Europe who see Brexit as the potential catalyst to shake down the EU and force it to get it's house in good order. Yes, we might actually be a force for good in effecting change for the wider European community.
British citizens have not had the opportunity to express an opinion on the EU with referendums on treaties as the citizens of other nations have. This democratic deficit has created an under current of unease about Europe and the obvious implication in the here and now that a vote to Remain will be forever. I want out but then I always have and am therefore not typical. My one real concern, and this is a biggie, is that while I have no qualms about the ability of British industry to compete, I have severe doubts about the quality of our civil administrators and politicians to execute Brexit efficiently. Just as we have cocked up our participation in Europe by not sending our best people to European institutions, we could easily underplay the execution risk of getting the mechanics of leaving right. We will need to muster our very best people who will have to be at the very top of their game to get it right.