Nick Cohen Nick Cohen

Brexit lies are opening up a terrifying new opportunity for the far-right in Britain

The Tory leaders of Vote Leave, those supposedly civilised and intelligent men, are creating the conditions for a mass far-right movement in England. They have lined up the ingredients like a poisoner mixing a potion, and I can almost feel the convulsion that will follow.

They have treated the electorate like children. They pretended that they could cut or even stop immigration from the EU and have a growing economy too. No hard choices, they said. No costs or trade-offs.

Now the Tory wing of the Brexit campaign, the friends of the City and big business, insists that we should remain part of the single market. So should you, if your job depends on Britain continuing to have access to EU markets, or you do not want your taxes to rise and services cut. Britain has fantastic levels of public and private debt, low productivity and a trade deficit. Few apart from the wealthy can view the loss of European markets with nonchalance.

There is no such thing as a free lunch – as hard-headed conservatives used to tell us. (Incidentally, I think we can stop believing Margaret Thatcher’s line that ‘the facts of life are conservative,’  or those self-serving boasts that Tories are realists after this campaign. They have taken one hell of a beating.)

If you want full access to the single market, you have to pay the EU. Norway, the example everyone quotes, makes a per capita net contribution of €107, we currently pay €139 per capita.  I could never see why it was worth leaving for €32 a head. We would have to abide by most EU rules, including those that harm our interests without having the power to alter them.  That €32 is just about enough to give everyone one small weekly shop, as long as they confine themselves to stocking up on white bread and turnips.

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