I yield to no one in my respect and admiration for Christopher Booker. Almost single-handedly in the media, he has made the case for common sense on Europe, on climate, and on a range of other issues. I guess he must feel that he’s ploughing a lonely furrow – but let me tell you, Christopher, most of us in UKIP (and many beyond) are with you.
Today (as I write, on January 10th) he takes the Met Office to task in the Sunday Telegraph for its extravagant claims. These claims include “December was the wettest ever December on record”; and the “wettest ever calendar month”; July 1st (2015) had been “the hottest July day ever”. Booker picks these claims apart and shows that they are just plain wrong. Not only was December not the wettest month ever – it was only the 20th wettest December since 1766.
Clearly this Met Office bias arises because they want alarmist headlines to feed into their global warming narrative. They also want to suggest that extreme weather is becoming more common as a result of Global Warming. But as Booker points out, meticulous research by Paul Homewood of shows no such trend. It’s pure propaganda. Not a lot of consolation if you’ve just had your home flooded for the third time, but blame Environment Agency policies, not Global Warming.
However (and with great reluctance) I do have to take issue with Booker’s lead article this week “What they’re all missing in the EU debate”. He points out that the powers that be in Brussels are seriously debating a major re-structuring of the EU, with a central group of member-states- essentially the eurozone – and an outlying group of “associate members” who will be, in effect, second class citizens, subject to damaging EU regulation but less able to influence events. This would itself require a major new EU Treaty, triggering a new referendum in the UK, perhaps some years away. Booker claims that no one in the “Out” camp is aware of this (except, as he gnomically suggests, “perhaps just one”).
The truth is, of course, that we are all perfectly well aware of it. But it’s tough enough getting media attention for the issues we are facing this year and next, without trying to educate the public on things that may or may not happen next decade. I think that “Out” campaigners are right to focus on the issues we face directly in Cameron’s referendum. Few voters will want to spend the time studying “possible future scenarios” in the EU.
By the way Booker also criticises “Out” campaigners for failing to set out a vision of how Britain will prosper outside the EU – as though independence were a self-evident handicap, and we had a duty to explain how we would cope with it. We shall prosper, quite simply, by being independent. We shall prosper by being free of the EU’s Common External Tariff, and stultifying regulation. We shall prosper by our new ability to make the trade deals we want, not the ones that Brussels allows us to have. We shall prosper by freeing ourselves from the EU’s perverse energy policies (provided we have the sense and courage to do better ourselves). We shall save not only £50+ million a day in budget contributions, but tens of billions in regulatory costs. Faster growth, more jobs, more trade, lower energy prices and (in due course) lower taxes. Plus the re-establishment of genuine democratic governance. What’s not to like?
I have a much more sanguine view of the prospects for Brexit. First of all, I am becoming increasingly confident that we shall vote OUT in 2016 or 2017, in Cameron’s referendum. The tide is moving our way. Amongst ordinary voters, it’s difficult to find people who are enthusiastic for “IN”. Differential turnout will favour the OUT side.
If I’m right, and we vote “OUT”, then the internal machinations of the EU will cease to be of great interest. Indeed they may be thrown off course entirely. I believe that a number of other EU member-states will see how Britain is doing as an independent country, and will vote with their feet (so to speak).
But suppose I’m wrong, and the British people vote “IN” on 2016/17? Then indeed we will be involved in the proposed new order in Europe. But there will have to be a new Treaty. So there will be a new referendum. Even if we vote IN first time round, I cannot believe that British voters will back a permanent second-class status for our country in the EU. Of course I’m hoping that Independence Day will come in 2017. But if not, it will certainly come by the date of the new Treaty and the next referendum, a few years later.