Tomorrow is Referendum Day! Tomorrow we can make it Independence Day. But this is probably our last chance for many years. Let’s make it happen.
It’s “too close to call”
Many of the papers say, rightly, that the referendum result is “too close to call”. The Indy headlines “24 hours to go and it’s too close to call”. The Metro. Certainly the polls are well within the margin of error, and there’s all to play for.
Latest YouGov poll shows 51/49 for Leave
Good news that the latest poll shows Leave ahead – but the margin is so small that it’s a statistical dead heat. I still believe that a dead heat in the opinion polling will translate into a Leave victory tomorrow, based on differential turnout. In trend terms this seems to represent a swing back to Leave from the last YouGov poll. Perhaps the initial shock of the Jo Cox tragedy is being seen in more perspective.
BBC’s Great Debate
Last night Boris Johnson, Gisela Stuart and Andrea Leadsom lined up against Scottish Tory Leader Ruth Davidson, London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the TUC’s Frances O’Grady. There was an especial piquancy in pitting the former and the current London Mayors against each other. All the panellists gave a good account of themselves. Khan was articulate, but seemed to rely too heavily on massively pre-scripted and repetitive statements (“You can’t take control of A, and B,and C etc, over and over again ad nauseam). Ruth Davidson was unduly rude and aggressive.
Leave repeated their “Take Control” mantra almost too often, until it elicited groans from the Remain half of the audience. But Boris’s closing statement was a cracker.
Two of the Remain side were from Scotland and Ireland. Two of the Leave side claimed immigrant lineage (Boris & Gisela). So who won? The Indy calls it for Remain. I thought Leave had it – but perhaps I’m biased. The Telegraph’s poll showed a strong rating for all the Leave side, and especially Boris, with negative ratings for Khan and O’Grady, about evens for Richardson. But I guess that reflects their readership.
The Times: 1200 business leaders support Remain
The Guardian publishes a letter from 1200 business leaders supporting the Remain Campaign. Of course we knew that a majority of business leaders (and especially large businesses) support Remain, so it is scarcely surprising that the Remain Campaign should have mobilised a group of them for the letter.
I was amused that last night on the BBC’s “Great Debate” the TUC’s Frances O’Grady repeatedly attacked “the big banks who trashed the economy”. I wonder, Frances, are these the same big banks, like Goldman Sachs, who are currently backing and bankrolling the very Remain Campaign that you are supporting?
It’s worth asking why so many large companies back Remain. Of course we know that business leaders like stability and instinctively oppose major changes. It also seems to be the case that they assume that Britain after Brexit would face barriers to trade in the EU, and haven’t thought through the economic imperative which will force Brussels to agree a trade deal with the UK. But also let’s not underestimate the power of patronage. These large companies lobby the European Commission and negotiate with it. They’ll get a pretty dusty reception in Brussels in future if they support Leave in the referendum campaign now.
Sweet news:Tate & Lyle backs Brexit: Tate & Lyle have written to their 800 employees in favour of Brexit. The company has suffered very badly from the EU’s policy on sugar (as have low-income countries growing the sugar cane on which we relied before EU membership). Gerald Mason of Tate & Lyle writes “We pay as much as €3.5m of import tariffs to the European Union on some of the boats of cane sugar that unload at our refinery, only for the European Union to then send that money to subsidise our beet sugar producing competitors in Europe.”
“If you believe in Britain, vote Leave”
The Mail devotes most of its front page to this headline, adding “Lies. Greedy elites. Or a great future outside a broken, dying Europe”.
Cameron says “Think of the grandchildren”
“Cameron appeals to older voters” reads the newspaper headline in the Herald Scotland (he doesn’t appeal to this older voter, I have to tell you) “to think of your grandchildren”. Yes Dave. I do indeed think about my three grandsons, their future and their opportunities, and that’s why I’m campaigning for Leave.
Cameron “Investment surge if we vote to Remain”. Cameron is claiming there’ll be a surge of inward investment if we vote to Remain. I predict that there’ll be long-term growth in inward investment after Independence, as companies see that the UK is still a good base to service European markets, that we have a free trade deal, and we have a much more business-friendly environment.
Cameron says the Leave Campaign is “stoking intolerance”: It used to be the Left that shouted “racist” at any legitimate attempt to debate public concerns over immigration. Now David Cameron is joining in. This is a bit rich, when (A) The current immigration policy under this government clearly discriminates in favour of white Europeans and against often non-white immigrants from elsewhere; and (B) The immigration policy urged by Leave is a points-based system which will be completely colour-blind. How do you justify your ethnic discrimination, Dave?
BBC says EU will give UK a tough time
The BBC reports a great deal of sabre rattling by EU leaders threatening the UK with a tough deal after Brexit. But the they would say that, wouldn’t they – until economic reality bites their ankles. French Minister Emmanuel Macron says Brexit would make Britain “a little country”. OK, Emmanuel – but still bigger than France. Quite difficult to see how the world’s fifth largest economy can be “a little country”. Soon they’ll be saying that the USA will continue to be a bit trivial until it applies to join the EU. Macron seems to have a limited knowledge of geography. A couple of days ago he said that the UK would be “like Guernsey”. Guernsey is a great place for a holiday, but as an economy, it’s a little smaller than the UK.
Economic experts “like Nazi propagandists” – Gove
The Telegraph reports that Michael Gove has compared economic “experts” who dismiss the UK’s chances of success outside the EU as “Like Nazi propagandists”. Whoa, Michael old boy. The lesson of the campaign is that David Cameron can refer to Hitler, but anyone on the Leave side who mentions Hitler or the Nazis morally bankrupt. Go carefully.
So far as I can see, Gove never even used the word “Nazi”. He compared the orchestrated support for Remain with the German scientists in the pay of the German government who attacked Einstein at the behest of the German authorities. But a mischievous sub-editor couldn’t miss the opportunity to put “Nazi” in a headline.
Weather votes Leave? The same page that carries the story above also says that the weather could favour Leave. Forecasters predict rain on Thursday – which could accentuate the differential turnout that I have been predicting for some time.
Express suggests “Her Majesty’s sympathy with Leave”
I am deeply uncomfortable with political arguments based on the alleged views of members of the Royal Family, but I report the story in the Express for what it is worth. They say that her Majesty invited dinner guests to suggest three good reasons why the UK should remain in the EU. Maybe the story is false. Maybe Her Majesty was merely seeking to start an informative conversation. Personally I have always felt deeply uncomfortable with the idea that our Sovereign Queen should be a mere citizen in someone else’s polity. Today the Sun features the story on its front page.
Why Europe is to blame for the UK’s energy failures
By an enormous effort of self-restraint, I have (mostly) avoided writing about my pet subject – energy – in these debriefs so far. So it’s nice to be able to point readers to another source making the same points I usually make. Tony Lodge at the Centre for Policy Studies knows his way around energy issues better than most.
His main points: the EU has mandated the closure of reliable and economical generating capacity which had previously given us secure and affordable electricity. It has overturned the economic logic of the market-place, so that investors are frightened away from the sector. And the only way to solve the problem is to Vote Leave, because we cannot solve these problems under EU rules.
I would add that EU policy is closing down energy-intensive businesses across many industries. It’s not just steel (think Port Talbot). It’s aluminium, chemicals, petroleum refining, fertilisers, ceramics, glass, concrete and others. And these industries are going to places like China and India where they emit more CO2 than they would have in Europe. It damages our economy but does nothing for the environment. Like so much that the EU does, good intentions lead to disastrous outcomes.
Tony Lodge makes the case that energy policy would be enough by itself to justify voting to leave. But then so would the EU Army. Or immigration. Or the Financial Transaction tax.
Notts TV debate
Yesterday I debated the Brexit issue with two MPs, Mark Spencer (Con) and Lillian Greenwood (Lab), plus Nottingham Businessman Ewan Lamont. It was broadcast last night at nine, and will be repeated tonight at eight. Available on Freeview Channel 7.