Not the economy, stupid!

One development seems to have been overlooked in the current avalanche of claim and argument.

It is an article of faith in some sections of the Leave community that the economic argument is fundamental. We will not win unless we convince voters that their economic prospects will not be damaged by Brexit. Hence we must advance an exit plan which preserves Britain’s access to the EU Single Market: the obvious route is via membership of EEA/EFTA. Hence we must accept, at least temporarily, continued payment for such access. Hence also we must accept, again at least temporarily, free movement of goods, services, capital and people.

This logic may rest on a false premise. The Daily Telegraph is carrying a poll which asks, “Would you back Brexit even if it left you worse off?”


The current response rate is 78% in favour.

This should be a major pause for thought. Of course, such a poll is unrepresentative, unscientific, self-selecting, and many other disparaging terms which can be applied. But if it’s even half right, a number of conclusions may follow. First, Britons may be less personally mercenary and more generously-minded than previously thought. More significant, the official Leave campaign may have judged the electorate’s mood correctly, both in emphasizing non-economic arguments about sovereignty and immigration, and in rejecting continued membership of the Single Market in favour of a WTO/free trade settlement.

The EEA/EFTA purists may disagree. But would they prefer to lose? Or to win for the ‘wrong’ reasons? If we do win, it looks as if it may be because of the Leave campaign, not despite it.

It’s too soon to expect victory. But not too early to hope.


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