As the markets try to second-guess the outcome of the EU referendum tomorrow, swinging one way and then the other, what is plain is that it is so tight that no-one really knows who will win.
But I continue to be confident the British people will vote to leave the EU. So to all you doubters, I say get over it, leaving will be good for us. Here are 11 reasons why I think Britain will opt for Brexit.
1. Reform? What reform?
Remember how this referendum was meant to be about a reform package negotiated by the Prime Minister? The reason no-one discusses it now is because it was worthless. He promised us “full-on treaty change”. Instead he gave us flowery words with no force of law. With so much at stake, his failure should convince people with open minds that reform of the EU from the inside is just not possible. So why hang around dreaming about the unachievable?
2. The Eurozone remains unstable
The Eurozone is not out of the woods yet. It has been a demonstrable failure, consigning millions of people – especially the young – to unemployment and never-ending austerity. All eyes are now turning to Italy as the next crisis-in-waiting. Given the country’s size, there is no guarantee that we won’t have to fork out billions for a bailout. The euro remains a huge risk to the UK, and we need to distance ourselves completely by having no ties to the EU’s chief political project.
3. Labour voters are turning to Leave
We often hear about “quiet Conservatives” who are reluctant to tell pollsters their true views. This referendum has discovered “quiet Labour voters”, as canvassers report the working class base has silently deserted Jeremy Corbyn’s half-hearted campaign. Labour voters want accountable politicians again and know the only way to achieve this is to make Westminster responsible for all of our laws.
4. Migration can be made to work for us
Despite the best attempts of some to demonise the issue, the British people are not concerned about race or religion – we are all human beings. But they are concerned about the pressures unmanaged open migration from the EU puts on schools, housing and healthcare. Businesses are also concerned about the limits placed on the number of skilled non-EU migrants. By taking control, we can benefit communities and businesses.
5. The economic opportunities trump the risks
All economic activity involves risk. The question is whether new opportunities trump the potential downsides. Even reports that are meant to rubbish Brexit show that we can grow faster after leaving the EU regulatory straitjacket. No longer held back by our often jealous EU peers, we can push forward financial services to the benefit of the City and our talented international workforce.
6. Trade deals are the future
Six of the world’s top 10 economies are not in the EU, yet Brussels has failed to secure free trade deals with any of them. As of 2014, Switzerland had trade agreements with countries with an aggregate GDP of $39.8 trillion. The EU has managed a mere $7.7 trillion – and its deals are less likely to include financial services. After Brexit, we can and will run a more liberal trade policy that will benefit the City and Britain’s vital services sector, bringing all of us more business.
7. German car sales account for 45 per cent of the UK market
There are two obvious reasons it is in no-one’s interest to initiate an EU-UK trade war. Some 45 per cent of all new UK car registrations in 2015 were German-owned brands, next was France with 17 per cent, and there are 6.5m EU workers whose jobs are linked to exports to Britain. With German and French elections next year, expect sanity not self-harm from Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande.
8. There is lots of good news to celebrate
It’s easy in the fog of war to forget the good news when fearmongering and biblical plagues are so attractive to some. Let’s remember that Avon is relocating from New York to London, Boeing has chosen the UK for its European base and, after looking around 20 global sites, Aston Martin selected Wales for its new car plant. There are so many reasons why Britain is an attractive location for international companies, and Brexit made no difference to these decisions.
9. Our economic case is a winner
Some like to think doom-laden predictions have won the day. But that would be forgetting the arguments coming from leading economists like Gerard Lyons, Roger Bootle, Andrew Lilico, Ruth Lea, Patrick Minford, and Tim Congdon. The truth is that what comes out of your model depends on your assumptions and these liberal free-traders see the upside.
10. We can be more influential than ever
The UK is once more the leading global soft power and we have competitive advantages in language, media, science, culture, and sport. Not only that, but once we leave the EU, we can regain our own seat and influence in the countless global bodies that are increasingly the source of new rules and regulations. We can do more good in the world advocating peace and tolerance than focusing on EU expansionism.
11. The British people want control
What has become clearer as the debate has developed is how the British people – across so many issues – simply want to have democratic control of their country again. We need to be able to hold our legislators and regulators to account. Government needs to be closer and restrained – only by leaving the EU can this happen. Which is why I believe it will.
And once we are out, we all need to pull together and make it work, with a negotiating team that includes business people.