Bill Carmichael: Our chance to make the EU elite take notice

Chancellor George Osborne's handling of the EU referendum has come under fire.
Chancellor George Osborne's handling of the EU referendum has come under fire.
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AMID bizarre scenes on the River Thames last week, which saw clashes between rival flotillas led by fading 80s pop star Sir Bob Geldof and Ukip leader Nigel Farage, one image perfectly encapsulated the tone of this entire referendum campaign.

There was multi-millionaire Geldof, aboard a luxury Thames pleasure cruiser, his face distorted in unhinged fury, screaming abuse and giving the two fingers (quite literally) to a group of fishermen aboard working trawlers who are worried about their livelihoods.

If you want to know what this campaign is all about, then you need look no further. Because with each passing day one thing is becoming clearer – this is a battle between the Establishment elite versus ordinary working people.

Hatred and contempt for the concerns of the public – their worries over jobs, schools, the NHS and housing – has run through the Remain campaign like the word Blackpool through a stick of rock.

They just can’t help themselves, can they? Take the equally bizarre intervention from Chancellor George Osborne, who threatened to impose a “revenge Budget” on the public, featuring swingeing tax rises and spending cuts, if voters dared to exercise their democratic right to back Leave.

This is the sort of behaviour you would expect from a foot-stamping adolescent who has not been able to get his own way for once, not the actions of the holder of one of the high offices of state.

Luckily, Osborne’s threat is an empty one. He would need to push his punishment Budget through the Commons and more than 60 Conservative MPs immediately let it be known that they would block it. Game over, George.

So Osborne has revealed himself to be arrogant, vindictive – and entirely impotent. Not a good combination.

If there is any justice in the world, Osborne’s utterly despicable behaviour during this referendum campaign should mark the end of his political career, regardless of the result next Thursday.

Osborne is one of the architects behind the Remain camp’s Project Fear tactics that have proved an unmitigated disaster.

We’ve been variously told that if we vote Leave the NHS will be abolished, the Premier League will collapse, house prices will plummet and our exports will be reduced to “absolutely zero”. Just how stupid do they think we are?

You knew Project Fear was in big trouble when members of the public openly mocked the Prime Minister’s demented suggestion that voting Leave would lead to genocide and the outbreak of World War Three.

That happened five weeks ago and I did wonder at the time that having cranked up the hysteria to gas mark 11 it was difficult to see where the Remain camp could go from there.

I needn’t have worried – last week European Council President Donald Tusk said the UK leaving the EU would lead to the “destruction of Western political civilisation in its entirety”.

Well, if he really thinks that, then perhaps he should have offered the UK a reasonable deal to keep us in. Too late now chum.

Meanwhile in the Labour Party (remember them?) something remarkable is happening. After decades of open-border fanaticism, senior figures such as Tom Watson, Yvette Cooper, Ed Balls and Andy Burnham have suddenly decided we need to curb the EU’s free movement rules.

No doubt the furious reaction they 
are getting on the doorsteps from
their core voters in the North has something to do with this Damascene conversion.

The trouble is they have no idea how to persuade the EU to abandon one of its fundamental tenets. David Cameron failed miserably to get any compromise on the free movement rules. Is Ed Balls going to do any better?

For what it is worth, I still think Remain will win on Thursday. The opinion polls are often wrong, but the bookies rarely are, and they are calling it for Remain. Besides poll experts tell us there that in any referendum there is usually a late swing towards the status quo.

But I am frequently wrong on these things – and I hope I am this time. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to give the Establishment elite a thoroughly deserved bloody nose, and make them sit up and take notice of the concerns of ordinary people

For a freer, more democratic and more prosperous country there is only one choice – Vote Leave.