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It had to happen …

And so now Boris has declared his hand. Yippee! At last we’ve got a decent dollop of mayhem, charisma and ‘God knows what?’ added to this EU Referendum business which, for all the excitement it has generated within the Westminster and Fleet Street ‘bubbles’, had been in serious danger of going off at half-cock as far as the bulk of the British population was concerned.

As to the reasons as to why this had been the case, I think one need do little more than point to the widespread distrust of the political classes generally.

Put as simply as possible, the difficulty for those in the ‘Remain’ [in the EU] camp is that trying to present Mr Cameron’s tortuously-negotiated mini-package – with all its watered-down demands and uncertainties as to whether any of it will actually ever be delivered – as a triumph for the UK is preposterous. The idea that it will not only keep the UK safe and secure from all those faceless, unelected, unaccountable EU bureaucrats,  but also ensure that our democratic principles are preserved via an EU relationship in which the UK is still on the inside of ‘the Club’ [just] but ring-fenced away from anything to do with the Eurozone or further developments towards any ‘United States of Europe’ end-goal is laughable.

Well, at least as laughable as the attempts of those in the ‘Brexit’ camp – with no hard evidence whatsoever to support their contention – to brush aside the concerns being put to them about their greatest problem in the forthcoming EU Referendum campaign [i.e. nobody knows, or can speculate with any certainty, as to what the hell the UK’s place in the world, trade-wise or otherwise, will be following a vote to leave the EU]. Burbling on about how we’ll not only be able to carry on with a freshly-negotiated free-trade deal with the EU because that is what the most important countries in the EU will desperately want/need, but then also be able to forge our own very-favourable deals with India and China etc. without the dragging, nagging interference from the EU behemoth holding us back, doesn’t butter any parsnips for me.

The issue just isn’t going to go away – simply because there’s no ‘slam-dunk’ answer that anyone can give to make do so.

Yesterday my self-indulgent (three-hour-plus) bout of ‘catching up with what’s going on with the Referendum’ began at about two minutes to 9.00am, when I tuned in as the BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show was about to begin. Before that overnight I’d deliberately avoided all media news bulletins, having taken the view that the best way to get a summary of what’s been happening – rather than a perhaps confusing ‘drip-drip’ feed of developments as they occurred – was to tune into the Beeb’s flagship Sunday morning current affairs show.

As night follows day, it was inevitable that both sides of the argument would have been working nineteen to the dozen, probably for weeks, in order to get their biggest beasts and headline-grabbing ‘issues’ buffed up, polished and presented to the UK public on a plate (complete with accompanying garnishes and gift-wrap trappings) on the first Sunday morning opportunity after Mr Cameron’s EU deal was done.

By lunchtime, with the Andrew Marr Show and the Sunday Politics programme – excellently presented by Jo Coburn – under my belt, we’d had some knock-about stuff from the likes of Nigel Farage and George Galloway [who’d have ever thought they’d see those two sharing a political platform?] and Chris Grayling, David Cameron, George Osborne … plus a slew of Cameron-supporting cabinet ministers … all strutting their stuff.

With politicians, of course, the law of unintended consequences usually comes into it.

sturgeonI grew an instinctive inner smile the moment that SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon popped up to smooch Andrew Marr with her views on the major Referendum issues, not least her threat that if the UK were to vote for Brexit – in circumstances where the Scots had gone heavily for ‘Remain’ – a second Scottish Referendum on Independence would inevitably follow.

Her reminder of this possibility immediately removed any doubt as to my position on the Referendum: this cast-iron chance to get rid of the Scots is just too good an opportunity to miss (at the end of the day who cares whether we’re in or out of the EU, it’s only a matter of whether our faceless bureaucrats and ‘Establishment’ – or the EU’s – govern us anyway?).

That said, some things never change do they?

I awoke in the wee hours not long ago now to hear confirmation that Boris had finally come out for Brexit.

Immediately we had his fellow Brexit campaigners sprinting to the media studios to crow about his decision – and simultaneously the Government wheeling out all sorts, including a still-cogent-sounding Lord Heseltine, to denounce him for his choice, putting it down more to his own selfish political ambitions than to any principles or convictions.

It’s all part of the political game, isn’t it?

How so? Well – just suppose for a minute – that Boris had ended by coming out in favour of ‘Remain’.

Things wouldn’t have been much different, simply the other way around.

You’d have witnessed the spectacle of Government ministers queueing up in the broadcasting studios to say what an important figure and genius Boris was/is … and leading campaigners from the Brexit camps doing likewise to say how he’d got it fundamentally wrong and was a complete prat anyway.

Right now – with the EU ‘negotiating’ phase over, the Snakes And Ladders pieces all on the board and the dice ready to be rolled – it’s all simply now down to who can persuade the electorate of the righteousness and rational sense of their cause … and, of course, how many of us actually bother to visit the polling booths.

About Simon Campion-Brown

A former lecturer in politics at Keele University, Simon now lives in Oxfordshire. Married with two children, in 2007 he decided to monitor the Westminster village via newspaper and television and has never looked back. More Posts