The Remain camp are beginning to realise that the battle is being read as elites vs the people, politicians vs electors, big business vs small employers. And they’re worried.
The initial strategy involved lining up influential groups and spokesmen day after day to argue for remaining, and to ramp up fear at the prospect of leaving. Osborne even managed to hijack the G20 communique from Shanghai to include a reference to “the shock of a potential UK exit from the European Union”. But it isn’t working. Politico reports that Cameron’s adviser Daniel Korski has said that Number 10 now wants to discourage banks and big business from speaking up too loudly in support of EU membership.
Claim and counter-claim will be thrown around relentlessly over the next four months. Most of it, especially forecasts of future impacts on domestic GDP, will be beside the point: the future is by definition unknowable. But what will clearly be to the point is whom to trust. An increasingly rattled and desperate Cameron, driven on by multinational businesses, insolvent banks and self-serving politicians, is not scoring highly in the trust stakes.
The British people don’t like to be told what to do by those who presume to be their betters. Our reaction, cussed or stubborn, is to resist. The referendum will give the people a chance to say: No. We don’t believe you. We don’t trust you. We want to run our own country again. We can have a brighter future than your miserable and defeatist scare-mongering suggests.