Barack Obama’s recent comments that it could take 10 years for the UK to sign a trade deal with the USA should they leave the EU, has resigned me to something I’ve been trying to deny for a while. Regardless of the merit of the arguments on either side, it is ultimately the fear factor and the image of the leave campaign that will mean we remain in the EU. Regardless of how (very) dubious Obama’s claim is, it nonetheless is the decisive cherry on the cake for the Remain campaign, and while some may feel it has backfired, for most people the opposite is true.
While I think there is a good case to be made against Obama unfairly intervening, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage both pounced on the president’s remarks in the worst way possible. Speculation over an “ancestral dislike” of the UK and him being the most “anti-British president in history” (George Washington, anyone?) further fuels the perception that Brexiters are inward looking little Englanders, with undertones of xenophobia. If this perception persists, then the likelihood of winning and leaving on the 23rd of June becomes nil.
The Leave campaign also seems to be attracting controversial figures from across the political spectrum, and in this instance I don’t think it’s a good thing. From George Galloway (often accused of antisemitism) to Marine Le Pen (who compared Muslims blocking streets to the Nazi occupation), there is far too much disjointedness in the Brexit camp for them to really win. Gisela Stuart, co-chair of the Vote Leave movement has already voiced her strong opposition against Le Pen visiting the country, in what can only be seen as bit farcical from those outside looking in to the Leave campaign. While campaigning to stay in the EU certainly seems far less glamorous, there is no such division on their camp.
It has always been an uphill battle for the eurosceptics; the Government, most businesses and now the President of the United States are all roadblocks in the way of leaving the EU and barring a massive scandal of some sort, it seems unlikely that the Leave campaign can clinch victory. A multitude of polls seem to have the Brexit camp trailing by around 10 percentage points in light of recent events.
While the Remain campaign has been accused of being a bit dull, it hasn’t put a foot wrong. With studies coming from the IMF, the Treasury and Cambridge that all point to an exit from the EU being detrimental, the Remain campaign has no shortage of ammunition when it comes to arguing to stay in the EU. David Cameron’s repeated soundbite that the UK now has “special status” has been used an example of the UK’s ability to have magnified influence in the EU. How true this is won’t matter as long as they continue to do what they are, while their opponents get mired into media criticism and more public figures calling for us to remain.
So unless the Leave campaign fights back with a heavyweight endorsement of its own, or with even more aggressive and well-argued campaigning, their prognosis looks bleak.
Do you think that the UK will leave the EU? Drop a comment below!