As referendum day draws rapidly nearer, the claims and counter claims of the two sides and their hangers-on defy political gravity. Every new ‘fact’ is claimed as evidence to simultaneously support remaining in the prosperous country of Future-Europe yet also flies the flag for farting in its face. The EU brings prosperity, the same EU hampers prosperity. Open borders are controlled by being in yet also remain gaping wide open. The level of cognitive dissonance displayed by some in the debate must surely warrant investigation or at least an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.
At times it veers into the comical with each side trying to outdo the other like some Eurovision Four Yorkshiremen sketch. In the latest televised debate, passions are running high as David Cameron finally takes to the stage to debate against Nigel Farage. He does so with trepidation, having resisted the call thus far and - wary of appearing weak - he launches into his time with a re-hashing of the Remainian mantras.
“We are stronger in Europe,” he repeats, for the thousandth occasion.” The EU lets us trade with the rest of the world and strengthens our home security. By cooperating with our European allies in a reformed European Union we can secure a more prosperous future for our children and our children’s children.” The crowd duly applauds.
Nigel Farage stands at the microphone and sighs. “You see, what we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a man who has nothing to lose. All the big names backing the Remain camp are wealthy individuals and businesses or political opportunists who see the EU as a means of feathering their own nests and keeping the little man down. We need to leave the EU, take control of our borders and be a free, independent confident nation again.”
Cameron rebuffs: “There we are again with the little Englander line. Mr Farage wants us to pull up the drawbridge and retreat from the world. I say again, leaving the EU would be a leap in the dark when the alternative – staying in the Union and driving meaningful reform – means we can have the best of all possible worlds. Britain alone would be powerless to alter the tides of history and defenceless against global movements of antipathy. The treasury report we commissioned last month shows that every household will be £4300 a year worse off if we leave the EU. Is this what his side wants?”
Farage “Outside the EU we will be free to make our own trade deals with the rest of the world. Free of the stifling red tape of Brussels, free of the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies, free to make this nation great once more. What Mr Cameron is proposing would make Britain just another subservient region of the super state called Europe.”
Cameron: “Again, what he says is simply untrue. We have obtained special status in the EU whereby we can control our borders, we will never adopt the single currency and we are exempt from deeper integration into a European Federation if – and here I find Nigel’s conspiracy theories quite alarmist – if, indeed, there even is further and closer political union. The facts are on our side. History is on our side and remaining in the EU is the right thing to do, the right thing for Britain and the right thing for the stability of the free world.”
Nigel steps back to the microphone and takes a deep breath: “Right. Britain has always been a strong, independent, trading nation. We can become so again. Outside of the EU we can rebuild our society, regain control, restructure our economy and compete against the best in the world. Everybody who needs work will be able to have a job, no child will leave school insufficiently educated, nobody will need to beg for food and we will protect our sick and helpless. A mighty new Britain will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes of our European misadventure and we will once more become a mighty, world-bestriding force to be reckoned with.”
Cameron stands up and interrupts: “Nigel, you are talking bollocks.” The audience gasps to hear such intemperate language from the PM. Nigel turns to look him in the eye, glances back at the audience to make sure they are with him and smiles. Cameron has walked straight into his oratorical trap. He replies, coolly, “Maybe I am, Prime Minister... but you started it.”
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