Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: KEITH HANN

DURING the last referendum campaign in the UK, in which we in England were denied a vote, did you ever hear the advocates of Scottish independence derided as "little Scotlanders"? No, me neither. Yet we will surely hear a lot in the months ahead about how "little Englanders" threaten our future prosperity and security by advocating British withdrawal from the European Union.

How did Scottish independence come to be marketed and widely accepted as a progressive aspiration, and British independence as an entirely reactionary one? It clearly represents a failure of leadership and communication by those tending towards the "no" camp before the referendum starting gun is fired. And I fear that this failure is all too likely to continue if the loudest voice in the "no" campaign is that of Nigel Farage.

UKIP is brilliantly typecast to play the role of Labour's "loony left" in the referendum of 1975, convincing moderate voters that if they are on one side it would be better to be on the other.

How easy it will be to characterise the advocates of independence as backward-looking, fearful xenophobes, and the EU's supporters as optimistic representatives of the future.

Which is ironic, given that little could be further from the truth. The EU is a sclerotic 20th-century creation, fixated on building a single nation called Europe.

They didn't invent the euro to make our continent richer, but to drive it towards their obsessive political goal of "ever closer union". The current shenanigans with Greece are duly demonstrating that you cannot have a single currency without a single treasury and tax system, just as they were designed to do.

Fear will be the "yes" campaign's weapon of choice in this referendum, just as it was the main asset of the "no" camp in Scotland. Prepare to hear much about the four million jobs at risk, regional development funding that will be lost, new trade barriers erected, a fatal loss of influence and dangerous isolation in the world.

All of which is cobblers, since the rest of the EU sells more to us than we do to them, and the funding they so generously dish out is but a fraction of the money we pay to them in the first place for the privilege of membership. …

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