Forget the hysteria. Leaving the European Union would not put a bomb under the British economy or end Western political civilization as we know it. But nor would it mean another £350 million a week being spent on the NHS, and staying does not mean eighty million Turks will be arriving at Dover. For voters struggling to make sense of the referendum campaign, this sort of thing has hardly helped.
It was probably a mistake for the Remain campaign to go nuclear so early. Their claims that leaving the EU would be a catastrophe for Britain’s economy and security, and the lurid terms in which they were made, probably weakened their case rather than strengthened it. The approach undermined the campaign’s believability; as wavering voters in my final round of focus groups said last week, the warnings became “white noise”. A less frantic tone, arguing that the EU had plenty of faults but on balance we were better off in – rather than that calamity would ensue were we to leave – might have sounded more credible and, particularly from David Cameron, more convincing.Read more