Charles Moore Charles Moore

The Spectator’s Notes | 16 June 2016

Also in The Spectator’s Notes: Sir Mike Rake, Brexit’s best weapon; the crisis for the left; Polly Toynbee, the Marie-Antoinette of our day

The Remain campaign takes as its model the ‘No’ one in the 2014 Scottish referendum. First and last — hence the Osborne/Darling fantasy horror Budget on Wednesday — inspire fear. Second, late in the day, leave it all to Labour and get Gordon Brown to make a passionate speech (Mr Brown took this too literally and made almost exactly the same passionate speech). Finally, shortly before polling, get leaders of all stripes to make a solemn ‘vow’ to win over the doubters. I am trying to work out what that vow could be. All 27 other member states promising some guarantee of Britain’s independence within the EU? This device has already been tried — David Cameron called it his ‘deal’ for a ‘Britain in a reformed Europe’ — and no one was impressed. There isn’t really any leading Remain supporter left standing whose vow could be believed. So unless Mr Cameron can force the Queen to make a Diana’s-funeral-style broadcast ‘as your Queen and as a grandmother’ in favour of Remain, it is hard to imagine what shots are left in his locker.

I keep telling myself that the polls showing Leave ahead are too good to be true. But then I see Remain’s latest efforts and feel reassured. One of its earliest campaigners was the self-important businessman Sir Mike Rake who, I wrote at the time, is pure gold for Leave. This week he pops up again, ordering his Rolls-Royce workers to vote to preserve his seat at the top table. Keep talking, Sir Mike: until 23 June, we need to see much more of these hard-faced men who have done well out of Brussels.

The real crisis, though, is not for capitalism, or even for the Conservative party, which seems, perversely, to be doing quite well by leading the debate on both sides.

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