BILL ON BREXIT: WHY I’M READY TO THROW IN THE TOWEL

BILL JAMIESON

Another six weeks to go in the great EU debate in Scotland that no-one’s having, and I’m scared witless already.

The good news for my sparring partner Peter Jones is that I’m close to throwing in the towel in my support for BREXIT.

I thought I’d heard all that Cameron-style Project Fear could fire into the Brexit trenches. But the latest fusillade has left us gasping for air.

It’s not that leaving the EU could put more than £1bn worth of Scotch whisky exports at risk, according to industry chiefs.

The warning from the Scotch Whisky Association came as industry figures met with pro Remain Environment Secretary Liz Truss at a distillery in East Lothian to discuss the importance of the EU market to the sector.

It’s not that Remain campaigners are blaming the economic slowdown on “referendum uncertainty” – and on latest figures showing jobs are being shed at the fastest rate since 2010.

Nor is it that leaving the EU would make the UK “less safe”, according to former MI6 boss Sir John Sawers. He says the UK would be shut out of decisions on the “crucial” issue of data sharing.

And it’s not even that the august Scottish Council for Development & Industry (SCDI) has thrown its full weight behind “Vote Remain” and says it will support the UK staying in Europe. Most of its members, says chief executive Ross Martin, support membership “but “a small number of members did not hold that view.”

I’m only surprised that the “small number” registered at all in the SCDI finding.

Scary through all of these are, what really had me reaching for the Diazepam was the warning from David Cameron that peace in Europe could be at risk if Britain votes to leave the EU.

European peace threatened? That’s not just a big gun blast from Project Fear. It’s the thermonuclear strike.

BREXIT a threat to European peace? If that’s the case, why ever did the Prime Minister risk a referendum and Europe being plunged into another continent-wide Armageddon just to pacify a few Tory back benchers and UKIP’s Nigel Farage?

And this, remember, comes on top of the dire warnings from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the UK Treasury, the Bank of England, Goldman Sachs and US President Barak Obama.

What’s left for Project Fear to fire with six weeks still to go? Might it be a dramatic intervention from Mongolia, warning that a new Genghis Khan was thundering on his way and would unleash a mighty slaughter if we voted to leave?

It now looks most unlikely that UK voters will dare risk voting BREXIT given all these apocalyptic warnings.

So my towel is almost ready to throw – but for one even scarier outcome – how the UK might look in the years ahead if we voted “Remain”.

I’m sure David Cameron has heard the earnest pleas to run a more upbeat and positive campaign. He needs to stress the benefits of EU integration instead of scaring us out of our wits.

It’s not enough, surely, that the UK remains a sullen, reluctant member of the EU. Negative foot-dragging just won’t cut it as a diplomatic strategy.

What will be urged upon us is not negative compliance but positive collaboration. Yes, collaboration, and all the benefits it would bring with that seat at the top table.

History is replete with examples of countries that have reconciled themselves to growing external stewardship, economic partnership and collaboration. It’s not all about France’s Marshall Petain and the collaboration with Germany, or Hungarian restiveness with the Soviet Union which gave rise to the unfortunate events of October 1956.

These regrettable examples have given positive collaboration a bad name. And the case for such collaboration is all the more compelling when you consider the wise counsel we have enjoyed from those who know better about economic stewardship and world affairs.

Is not the Euro zone a beacon of economic success, with high growth and modest unemployment?

And when it comes to listening to our betters among our friends overseas, were we not prudently advised by America on Afghanistan and Iraq? Did not the unfailing compass of the IMF and the OECD signal the approach of the financial crash and subsequent recession?

Has not the EU reached a unified approach to immigration policy and border control?

Yet these efforts are belittled and begrudged. Indeed, is there not altogether too much demagogic grumbling and back seat driving from voters – “a small number” as Ross Martin would put it – who know so little but are encouraged to believe that their opinions matter?

Once June 23 is behind us, sovereignty will be a spent concept. Positive collaboration is the wave of the future. You don’t have to love the EU. But we can put on a smile, forget our differences and rub along.

What a brave new future beckons for the UK if only we went along with Europe and eased up on voting, referendums and outworn notions of democratic accountability.

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