The EU debate: principles not included

JK Rowling is right to call the Referendum debate ‘ugly’

by Sir Thomas Crapper

What does Baroness Warsi’s last minute switch to the Remain side tell us about the EU Referendum? It tells us, This is the EU debate: principles not included.

It tells you the same thing as the hypocrite Facebook posters who daily lambast the Daily Mail and its readers. They are now crowing because their dread nemesis is backing ‘Remain’.

Tens of millions are out of work across southern Europe. The Euro has been catastrophic for the less well off and the young. If the Left cannot bring itself to vote ‘Out’ on that basis alone, then principles be hanged.

When Tory MP Sarah Wollaston defected to Remain, it seemed like a pre-planned stunt. The ‘lie’ over the EU costing the UK £350m a week was a deal-breaker. Surely it would have been better to say so, out loud, convince her colleagues, apologise and move on?

There are many, many more important issues at stake here than how much the EU costs the UK (answer: not very much).

But no, Dr Wollaston ‘did not feel comfortable’. So all the other myriad reasons for being on the Leave side went out of the window.

At least Lord Guthrie, former Chief Of Defence Staff, had his mind changed by revelations that the EU might be planning its own army. Given that we already have NATO to co-ordinate any European military actions, he is obviously right to see the prospect of an EU army as a political rather than military ambition.

At the heart of the politics of an EU army is detestation of America. America has picked up the bill for the lion’s share of Europe’s defence bill since WW2. It is this, rather than the EU itself, that has kept the peace for seven decades.

JK Rowling is surely right to say, “The tales we have been told during this referendum have been uglier than any I can remember in my lifetime.” She is also right to call out those in the Leave campaign who have leaned heavily on a racist message.

It is perfectly proper that we should debate immigration. There is an underclass in the UK whose lack of literacy and numeracy skills shames our education system. They are condemned to a life of hopeless unemployment, which rings down the generations. Immigration has not been kind to them.

To fan racism among these people is a low blow, and makes it seem ok for others further up the food chain to join in. That is perfectly improper. Racism on any level is not ok.

But just because there is racism on the Leave side does not make voting ‘Leave’ a wrong choice. Rational, sane, decent, intelligent British people can have rational, sane, decent and intelligent reasons for voting ‘No’ on Thursday June 23.

So this is the EU debate: principles not included. Except your own. Stick to them. Don’t worry about who might vote with you, or what their reasons are. Your reasons are your reasons, and they matter.

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