The Evil EU

There’s something peculiar happening to the EU referendum debate: those who advocate remaining seem to hate the EU more than those who want to leave.

Many who are calling for ‘Brexit’ have an amiable enough approach to the EU – they don’t hate or fear it, they just don’t think it’s a good fit for the UK– and many would be happy to remain in some sort of ‘Common Market’ arrangement with Europe. Essentially, they say “It’s okay, just not for us.”

Those in the remain camp, however, frequently describe it in negative terms, anywhere from corrupt to an outright danger to the UK, before demanding that we stay because either leaving would be worse than staying in a corrupt, threatening edifice or the only way to combat the threat is from within.

I suspect the reason for this seemingly-counterintuitive negativity is an attempt to capture a perceived majority ‘europhobic’ element by playing up to their prejudices and, then, countering them with an even-worse alternative. (“Yes, it’s bad, but the alternative is worse.”) However, this approach may backfire as, firstly, there isn’t the rabid EU-hating  bloc some people seem to imagine (yes, there are a few people who really loathe or mistrust the EU, but they don’t appear to be that common); secondly, it seems unlikely many would be tempted from the leave camp, while the negativity is likely to push some undecideds that way, offsetting any gain; and thirdly, the arguments may even put off some supporters of staying in the EU. Ironically, linked to this, is a repudiation (in words, if not in hope) of further integration and a federal Europe, which would be the saving grace of the EU given its current troubles largely stem from a lack of cooperation and integration. Which means that a vote to stay is being presented as a vote for the same flawed system, rather than one that would seek to resolve its flaws.

So, unless there’s another shift, it looks like the people of Britain will be asked to choose between voting to leave in amicable circumstances and remain part of a hated nightmare. Interesting times, indeed!

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