By Tom Slater
he Leave campaign is negative. It is anti-immigration, anti-modernity, anti-Europe. Throughout the EU referendum debate, this has been the deadening refrain of the Remain campaign. Despite the fearmongering on both sides, despite the fact that post-Brexit economic catastrophe has been talked up at least as much as EU migrants clogging up NHS waiting lists, Brexiteers are still seen as having the premium on pessimism.
The official Leave campaign has done little to help matters. The dodgy figures emblazoned on battle buses, the appeals to the image of a besieged, overridden island – trampled on by Brussels and bled dry by European peoples on the move – have all too often given ammunition to the critics of leaving. But, more profoundly, the Leave campaign has failed to move beyond being simply anti-EU. It has failed to articulate what it is for.
Neither Remain nor Leave is required to offer a roadmap for the future, a manifesto for life after we vote In or Out. Talk of Australian-style points systems, Tory leadership battles or the future of workers’ rights after 23 June are, to borrow a favourite phrase from this campaign, for the birds. This is not an election; it’s far more important than that. This is a referendum on that most fundamental principle: democracy. And it is for the sake of democracy that spiked wants British voters to reject the EU.