As the Brexit disaster unfolds, pro-Europeans should be clearing up. Here's what they're doing wrongby Alex Dean / February 21, 2018 / Leave a comment
It can sometimes feel as though Brexit has sent Britain into meltdown. The economy is faltering, with Britain falling from the top of the G7 growth table to the bottom. The government is in a state of crisis, hopelessly divided over what future relationship it wants with the European Union. Worst of all, the Good Friday Agreement is under threat as Brexit hardliners seek to bulldoze all obstacles in their way.
So you might think “Remain” campaigners would be having a field day, yet still public opinion remains firmly stuck in the middle. The latest polling average gives “Remain” a lead of just 3 per cent.
What’s going on here? Why isn’t the Remain cause opening up a double digit gap? Why can’t it capitalise? The question is a pressing one; the answer is not immediately obvious. Still it is worth probing and asking just what’s going wrong.
There are as ever likely to be several factors at play. One potential explanation is that absent a general election or another referendum, voters simply aren’t paying attention to each new crisis. They have tuned out. Another is that the full costs of leaving are not yet clear, meaning many British voters are still happy to take a gamble on exit. There is likely to be some truth in each of these.
But I am increasingly wondering if one of the biggest problems doesn’t lie in the messaging coming from the Remain camp itself. It’s just a theory, but look back over its tactics since the referendum and some telling clues start to emerge.
Ever since the Brexit vote, Remain-supporting politicians and activists have pounced on every scrap of bad news. They have leapt on leaked government impact assessments showing the economic damage awaiting Britain outside the EU—just look at that bus pictured above. They have hammered home new reports that thousands could lose their jobs. They have pointed to weak British growth as proof that the Brexit vision is folly. I receive half a dozen emails a day from pro-European organisations making points like these.
The temptation of such an approach is obvious. But could it actually be doing more harm than good? Perhaps so much negative campaigning from the Remain camp is limiting its appeal.