Euroskeptics in the United Kingdom turned on each other on Wednesday when the group Vote Leave was designated the official campaign for an exit from the European Union.
The Electoral Commission’s decision allows Vote Leave to spend up to £7 million to make the case for leaving the EU and gives it free media and £600,000 in public funds.
Leave.EU, a group affiliated with the United Kingdom Independence Party, said the decision “smells of political corruption.” Vote Leave’s application, the group’s Arron Banks alleged, was “full of lies and misrepresentations.”
The now-official exit campaign is backed by prominent Conservative Party figures, including Boris Johnson, the outgoing mayor of London, and Michael Gove, the justice secretary.
Britons are due to vote on whether or not to stay in the European Union in June. Polls suggest they are evenly split. The right-wing government of Prime Minister David Cameron is campaigning for membership, as is the opposition Labour Party.
To some of the most ardent Euroskeptics, this has all the trappings of a plot to keep Britain in the bloc against its will.
Outside the government, the head of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, and a plurality of businesses, big and small, have cautioned against leaving the EU.
So have other countries, including Canada and India, and international organizations, like the International Monetary Fund and NATO.
Even American president Barack Obama has weighed in, advising Britons to vote to stay.
Outers who see a global role for Britain outside the EU, anchored in a now-irrelevant Commonwealth and Britain’s less-and-less special relationship with the United States, now deride American “interference” in the referendum campaign. Some have even likened the effort to leave the EU to America’s Revolutionary War.
It seems those firmly in the leave column will dismiss the opinions of just about everyone who has considered the consequences of exit as the desperate convulsions of a global elite that is determined to keep Britain down.
Everything that doesn’t go their way, whether it is designating Vote Leave as the official out campaign or the government distributing leaflets arguing why Britain is better off staying in, is proof to the fanatics of Europhile intrigue.
Everyone who raises their voice against exit must be a metropolitan liberal elitist who is willing to sacrifice Britain’s heritage and independence in favor of a European superstate that is — depending on whom you ask — either a neoliberal conspiracy or an attempt to resurrect the Soviet Empire.
“Trying to negotiate with the Eurosceptics is like trying to negotiate with IS,” one government insider told The Daily Mail, referring to the Islamic State terror group.
You ask them, “OK, what do you want?” and their response is, “We want you dead.”
Good luck compromising with that.