THE exaggerations, distortions and downright lies continue to mount in the EU referendum campaign – but I am increasingly beginning to wonder if it matters.
Because it appears the EU is doomed regardless of whether we decide to stay in or get out.
According to all the economic signals, hopes of a prosperous future for the EU are looking increasing unrealistic, and the two most likely scenarios are either a long period of inexorable decline or a short, cataclysmic collapse, sparked by the toxic debts of the Italian banks or the final implosion of Greece.
My preference is to leave the EU on the grounds that it is better to be out on the street watching a burning building from the outside, than be trapped inside with no means of escape.
But even if we decide to reclaim our independence and restore our democracy next month, the unresolved crises within the EU will continue to inflict huge damage on our economy.
Don’t take my word for it. Here’s Larry Elliott, the left-leaning economics editor of the Guardian: “The Eurozone is economically moribund, persists with policies that have demonstrably failed, is indifferent to democracy, is run by and for a small, self-perpetuating elite, and is slowly dying.”
According to Elliott the EU is faced with two unpalatable choices – either admit the euro has been a terrible mistake, or to integrate further by establishing a single Europe-wide treasury with taxation powers that will take money from the rich north and spend it in the impoverished south and east.
The problem is the Eurocrats will not accept the failure of their pet project and German taxpayers won’t accept further transfers of their hard earned cash to the bottomless pit of bankrupt countries.
So the EU is stuck – it can’t move forwards and it can’t go back.
Elliott argues that Brexit might actually be good for the EU as our departure would set off a crisis that could finally spark the kinds of radical reform that are so desperately needed.
This week Greece received another bail out – a further £7.8bn, which means the country owes it creditors an eye-watering £227bn or 180 per cent of its GDP.
The last dose of medicine just made the patient worse, so the EU has decided to force-feed Greece some more.
This will avert the crisis for a few months – crucially until after the Brexit vote – but it is just kicking the can down the road. The fundamental problems remain. Greece needs either massive debt relief or to leave the euro and devalue its currency.
For political reasons neither will happen in the short term. So Greece staggers on from crisis to crisis and from bailout to bailout – simply putting off the day of reckoning and the inevitable collapse.
Meanwhile the increasingly toxic debate here in the UK is poisoning the political discourse
Part of me admires the utter ruthlessness of the Remain campaign as it bludgeons the public into submission with scare story after scare story. The rationale behind the tactic is that if you terrify people often enough they will eventually bend to your will.
It very well might work – but what happens in a few months time when these lies and distortions are exposed? Trust in our political class, already at a lamentable low, will fall even further.
As the EU’s economic and immigration crises start to spiral out of control in the coming months and begin hitting home here in the UK, won’t people feel cheated and betrayed. I suspect they will.
And I fear the damage on the Conservative Party in particular could well prove terminal.
I’ve spoken to several lifelong Tories over recent weeks who say they will never support the party again, regardless of the result of next month’s vote.
One Conservative Party stalwart told me in all seriousness that he would rather see Jeremy Corbyn in Number 10 Downing Street than George Osborne.
I don’t think the Conservative establishment quite understands the scale of what is going to hit them come June 24.
Could Cameron go down as the Prime Minister who not only sold his country down the river but who also destroyed his own party?