Read more: Twelve things you need to know about Brexit
“I don’t know which ass—and ass is the most moderate word that I can think of—thought of the name ‘Project Fear’ but there is no such thing… [The term] was probably invented by some little twerp in a think tank.”
In an exclusive interview with Prospect Nicholas Soames, the Conservative MP for Mid Sussex, former Defence Secretary under John Major and grandson of Winston Churchill, argued that it is the campaign to leave the European Union (EU) that is too insular, not the campaign to remain in it. When I asked what he thinks the result of the referendum on 23rd June will be, he said, “I hope that ‘Remain’ will carry the day, just on the grounds of common sense.”
He continued: “People from all over the world look to Britain as a leader, and to see Britain opting out of the world—which is effectively what [a ‘Leave’ vote] would be—I think is anathema to everything that we stand for, so I am passionate about it.” Soames, who has been an MP for 33 years, is highly respected among the Conservative Party faithful. His comments come at a time when the party is deeply divided over Europe. Over 130 Conservative MPs have declared that they will vote to leave the EU, in opposition to the Prime Minister, who is campaigning for Britain to stay in. Those in favour of Brexit often accuse the “Remain” campaign of scaremongering, alleging that it whips up hysteria about the economic consequences of leaving the EU.
“This is a campaign in which both sides are trying to persuade people of the importance and validity of their arguments. I believe very strongly that we live in an era of consequences… Tony Blair said it brilliantly once—brilliantly! He said, if I remember it rightly, the thing has been shuffled, ‘the pieces are in flux.’ And the world is in flux—this is an era of great uncertainty. I don’t think it’s ‘Project Fear’ to say there will be consequences…