I fear we may miss Brexit opportunity - despite, not because of, Stronger In

PRWeek EU Referendum Panel: Project Fear has eroded trust in elites and made Brexit a real possibility, thinks Brexit-supporting Andrew Hayes.

Politics has always been about the battle between elites and the people - and this is precisely what is being played out in the referendum debate.

After the horrors of the first half of the 20th century, Stronger in Europe believe we are safer and more prosperous with technocrats in control who are not easily influenced by the mob.

Brexiters argue we need to reconnect government with the people by restoring the sovereignty of Parliament.

Through this prism, the debate has followed entirely predictable paths.

Stronger In Europe has focused on creating anxiety so voters acquiesce to the erosion of democracy. Vote Leave drives populist campaigns on issues where elites have failed. Each side marshals often sham data to support its deep-seated standpoint.

Project Fear has been overplayed and further eroded trust in elites, while a measured approach would have been more effective. Stronger in Europe didn’t need to stoke fears of armageddon to create anxiety for floating voters to go for what is argues is the safe option.

Vote Leave has also played populist cards. Impromptu speeches by Boris Johnson on street corners evoke John Major’s famous soap-box tour in 1992. Farage’s instincts have been sure-footed over many years in targeting those who feel left behind, so Vote Leave has taken his counsel to focus unremittingly on taking back control of immigration and our money.

Vote Leave’s narrative has been much more sure-footed in recent weeks. Stronger In Europe has stumbled and lost credibility and momentum.

Hilaire Belloc said "keep ahold of nurse, for fear of finding something worse". My hunch is that this is still what will happen next Thursday. This would be to miss a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reinvigorate our country, including its politics, particularly as Britain has always been truly global in its outlook and values. But Stronger In Europe has succeeded in making leaving a real possibility.

Andrew Hayes is CEO of Hudson Sandler and is pro-Brexit

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