It’s gone quiet, hasn’t it?
I mean David Cameron’s warnings of Brexit doom have been so relentless that they have become little more than white noise, the unnoticed hum in the background, like an air conditioner or distant traffic.
And I mean as well the official Leave campaign and their £350m fantasy and repeated (despite all evidence to the contrary) insistence that Mercedes Benz and other German manufacturers and French wine makers will keep open Single Market conditions with the UK.
Hum, hum, hum, repeat, repeat, repeat, we’ve been hearing the same noise so long now we just don’t hear it any more.
Which may be why a single voice has struck such a brilliant tone today. The Daily Telegraph had a comment piece by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, one of the best brains in the business. Evans Pritchard is always excellent. Today he moves into a new degree of brilliance.
He begins: ‘With sadness and tortured by doubts, I will cast my vote as an ordinary citizen for withdrawal from the European Union.’
‘Let there be no illusion about the trauma of Brexit. Anybody who claims that Britain can lightly disengage after 43 years enmeshed in EU affairs is a charlatan, or a dreamer, or has little contact with the realities of global finance and geopolitics.’
‘Stripped of distractions, it comes down to an elemental choice: whether to restore the full self-government of this nation, or to continue living under a higher supranational regime, ruled by a European Council that we do not elect in any meaningful sense, and that the British people can never remove, even when it persists in error.’
‘For some of us - and we do not take our cue from the Leave campaign - it has nothing to do with payments into the EU budget. Whatever the sum, it is economically trivial, worth unfettered access to a giant market.’
‘We are deciding whether to be guided by a Commission with quasi-executive powers that operates more like the priesthood of the 13th Century papacy than a modern civil service; and whether to submit to a European Court (ECJ) that claims sweeping supremacy, with no right of appeal.’
‘It is whether you think the nation states of Europe are the only authentic fora of democracy, be it in this country, or Sweden, or the Netherlands, or France - where Nicholas Sarkozy has launched his presidential bid with an invocation of King Clovis and 1,500 years of Frankish unity.’
Later he continues: ‘It is a quarter century since I co-wrote the leader for this newspaper on the Maastricht summit. We warned that Europe's elites were embarking on a reckless experiment, piling Mount Pelion upon Mount Ossa with a vandal's disregard for the cohesion of their ancient polities. We reluctantly supported John Major's strategy of compromise, hoping that later events would "check the extremists and put the EC on a sane and realistic path."’
‘This did not happen, as Europe's Donald Tusk confessed two weeks ago, rebuking the elites for seeking a “utopia without nation states" and over-reaching on every front. “Obsessed with the idea of instant and total integration, we failed to notice that the citizens of Europe do not share our Euro-enthusiasm,” he said.’
‘If there were more Tusks at the helm, one might still give the EU Project the benefit of the doubt. Hard experience - and five years at the coal face in Brussels - tells me others would seize triumphantly on a British decision to remain, deeming it submission from fear. They would pocket the vote. Besides, too much has happened that cannot be forgiven.’
Among the things which cannot be forgiven is the euro project: ‘Nobody has ever been held to account for the design faults and hubris of the euro, or for the monetary and fiscal contraction that turned recession into depression, and led to levels of youth unemployment across a large arc of Europe that nobody would have thought possible or tolerable in a modern civilized society. The only people ever blamed are the victims.’
Evans-Pritchard identifies this as ‘the greatest economic crime of modern times.’
As for those who want to lull us into believing a single euro-state will not now evolve: ‘You can equally argue that the high watermark of EU integration has passed: the Project is in irreversible decay. We are a long way from the triumphalism of the millennium, when the EU was replicating the structures of the US federal government, with an EU intelligence cell and military staff in Brussels led by nine generals, and plans for a Euro-army of 100,000 troops, 400 aircraft and 100 ships to project global power.’
‘You can argue too that the accession of thirteen new countries since 2004 - mostly from Eastern Europe - has changed the chemistry of the EU beyond recognition, making it ever less plausible to think of a centralized, close-knit, political union. Yet retreat is not the declared position of the Five Presidents' Report, the chief blueprint for where they want the EU Project to go. Far from it.’
‘In any case, even if we do not go forward, we may not go backwards either. By design is almost impossible by to repeal the 170,000 pages of the Acquis. Jean Monnet constructed the EU in such way that conquered ground can never be ceded back, as if were the battleground of Verdun.’
Being brilliant, Evans-Pritchard sees the wisdom of Flexit: ‘The Leave campaign has offered no convincing plan for our future trading ties or the viability of the City. It has ruled out a fall-back to the European Economic Area, the "Norwegian" model that would preserve - if secured - access to the EU customs union and preserve the "passporting" rights of the City.’
‘The EEA would be a temporary haven while we sorted out our global trading ties, the first step of a gradual extraction. The Leavers have not embraced this safe exit - or rather, less dangerous exit - because it would mean abandoning all else that they have pledged so promiscuously, chiefly the instant control of EU migrant flows.’
And on Evans-Pritchard goes, saying more in some hundreds of words than the entire official Leave campaign has ever said, and destroying any moral case for Remain. He is scarily good.
Which means I have to pay him the highest compliment any journalist can pay another: Damn, I wish I’d written that.