England expects…

I started intending to Remain and nothing has changed my mind. But that does not mean a condemnation of all canvassing. The best advocates have been from that side of the debate. Michael Gove, Andrea Leadson and Gisela Stuart have been outstanding, with charismatic contributions from Boris Johnson. David Cameron has worked his socks off, but I have been less than impressed by the support he has received across the board. Sadiq Khan and Ruth Davidson this evening were honourable exceptions

But will advocacy carry the day? It would be in the teeth of the overwhelming economic evidence in support of Remain. I have absolutely no doubt that there would be real financial hardship in the short term and a run on the pound if we leave. The weak Brexit response that experts should not be believed is hard to credit. They have been defeated comprehensively in this field and that probably will be decisive.

That leaves sovereignty, security and immigration, where the evidence and assertions are far more difficult to assess. The great majority of voters accept the premise that our sovereignty has been compromised and there is precious little we can do about it without decisive action. Similarly with immigration. Forget the covert or even overt racists. There is widespread frustration outside London at the scale of immigration. It takes calm careful argument to seek to highlight its positive benefits, particularly in the NHS. Remain simply have not addressed the issue and fears over a long period and it remains the joker in the pack, which of course could upset all calculations and polls.

For me, security is the decisive issue. We are safer trying to keep the peace inside Europe rather than pontificating outside. We can be the decisive voice round the table. I also favour maximum European cooperation to combat terrorism. Secondly our children have better prospects if we remain. Thirdly and personally, the French medical system supports one of my children admirably and nothing would persuade me to compromise that. And cooperation in medical research is vital.

Personal and political reasons, like most electors. What I worry about now is the sense of disillusion when Remain win. That is where leadership will be critical.

Nigel Pascoe QC


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