It was not long after the Conservative general election victory that the campaign for the UK to stay in the European Union was launched – no matter how disappointing the results of David Cameron’s renegotiation might be.
Even before the Referendum Bill was published and the wording of the question set, the creation of “Yes to Europe” betrayed an insider relationship with Downing Street.
Bookies and a number of pundits were quick to state that the “Out” campaign was being left behind and staying in was hot favourite – but this is a marathon not a sprint. Already, the Brexit campaign can claim that the momentum is going its way as it looks to convince the British public that life will be better outside the EU. Here are 12 reasons why:
1. Labour for Britain established. Led by Kate Hoey with other MPs and Labour’s biggest private donor John Mills, the Labour campaign for Brexit will split the left-of-centre vote – showing it’s not all about the Tories or Ukip.
2. Airbus to stay. Having previously suggested Brexit could mean an Airbus exodus from the UK, chief executive Fabrice Bregier has now retracted that statement, saying the aircraft manufacturer has “no intention of doing so” – it will not be the last business to commit to the UK.
3. JCB states EU membership not vital for trade. Lord Bamford, chairman of one of Britain’s biggest names in manufacturing and exports, stated recently that UK trade would be unaffected by Brexit – others are coming to the same conclusion.
4. Martin Schulz denies that Treaty change is likely. David Cameron may want “full-on Treaty change”, but a week does not pass without another EU leader stating it will not happen. Without it, any promised EU reforms cannot stick. Last week, it was the president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz.
5. The official Out campaign launching in September. Informed reports suggest that business supporters of the UK being in Europe but outside the EU will launch in the autumn. An advertising agency has already been hired and experienced personnel lined-up.
6. Formation of Scottish campaign group, Sexit. Nicola Sturgeon does not speak for all of Scotland, and campaigners will soon announce a non-party campaign for Scotland to be outside the EU, whether in the UK or not.
7. The Australia-China trade deal shows how our global trade can continue. Signed-off last week, the latest Chinese trade deal shows what the UK could arrange for itself with China and India (while the EU prevaricates) – and how trade access to the EU Single Market, enjoyed by Australia, the US and Mexico, would continue.
8. Conservatives for Britain growing in size. Established only a fortnight ago with 50 members, the group has already grown in number and now holds more than 110 MPs, showing the party’s mood is swinging behind Brexit.
9. Dropping “Purdah” for this referendum shows Cameron is worried about losing. Purdah – a pre-election period designed to ensure civil service neutrality – was introduced by Labour in 2000 to make campaigning fairer, and it has been applied to all referenda since (AV, Scottish and Welsh). But the UK government wants to use its publicity machine right up until the polls close – showing it knows it could lose.
10. Possible move of HSBC HQ to Asia shows why Brexit is not the problem. Due to the bank levy and excessive regulation, HSBC might move to the Far East, not Frankfurt or Paris. Brexit could create better conditions to make staying more attractive.
11. Union leaders now express doubts about supporting the “In” campaign. The TUC and Unison general secretaries, Frances O’Grady and Dave Prentis, have both told journalists that the trade union movement may not campaign in favour of the EU. We can expect more statements from union figures about how the EU has damaged their members’ pay and job prospects.
12. UK financial regulator plays down the impact of Brexit. The chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, Martin Wheatley, has stated there will be little immediate effect on the UK’s finance sector, dealing another blow to the scaremongers.
The referendum over staying a member of the ever-centralising EU, which will increasingly be dominated by the Eurozone nations, or leaving to become a democratically accountable global-trading nation has a long way to go – and both sides will experience ups and downs.
Supporters of Brexit have every reason to be optimistic and believe that, by challenging the repeated scaremongering while offering a positive vision of a more prosperous UK outside the EU, they can win the backing of the British people. These were just 12 reasons. By next month there will be another 12.