How interesting it is to see all these foreign governments queuing up to tell William Hague that for Britain to leave the EU would be a disaster. The US, Japan, Italy and Australia have been falling over each other to warn us that if we were to leave, this would cut us off from trade, investment and influence, because we would be excluded from the single market. But much of this explosion of international concern, we are told, is being instigated behind the scenes by a nexus including Lord Mandelson, Tony Blair, former ambassadors to Washington and the EU, and co-ordinated by a City PR firm behind the shadowy lobby group Business for New Europe.
The one issue, above all, these people are desperate not to see discussed is that which is gradually creeping up the agenda: namely that the only way we could get what most British voters say they want would be to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and join countries such as Norway and Switzerland that are outside the EU, but enjoy full access to the single market without having to be carried along by the rest of that integrationist political baggage the EU seems set on.
Just as keen not to see this discussed, of course, is David Cameron, whose insistence that we cannot leave the EU sees him stumbling around asking for pie in the sky, such as a new relationship for Britain with a “reformed” EU, which is just not on the EU’s agenda. He should study the European Commission’s latest Eurobarometer poll, which shows that, while EU-wide “distrust” of the EU has doubled in six years to a record high of 60 per cent (with only 20 per cent of Britons now saying that they “trust” it), the one European country whose people appear to be “satisfied” with their lot more than any other – no fewer than 98 per cent of them – is Norway. Outside the EU.
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