Only a day or two before Barak Obama’s visit to the UK, I remarked to my wife what I saw was the general difference between the two sides in the EU referendum debate. Whatever I may think about the likes of Cameron and Osborne, the main statements made by the Remain camp seem to be based upon some form of rational argument. The Leave lot, on the other hand, generally resort to personal abuse.
Then along comes Obama, who makes an impassioned speech about why he believes that the UK should remain in the EU. He also strongly debunks the Leavers’ fantasy that Britain will be able to negotiate, easily and quickly, a bilateral trade deal with the USA. And what do we get in return? A load of bollocks from Boris Johnson about a bust of Churchill in the White House (not realising there are two different busts) and some abuse of Obama. Johnson asserts, absurdly, that Obama just made his speech as a favour to Cameron. Can anyone really believe the President of the world’s superpower would actually do that?
There is a dark side to all this nonsense. Public opinion of politicians is already extremely low. This state of affairs was helped in no small way by the Daily Telegraph, who pay Johnson £600,000 a year for his newspaper column. I refer, of course to the paper’s exposure of the MPs’ expenses scandal. This was an important, but highly spun, piece of investigative journalism which tried, and broadly succeeded, in creating the impression that all politicians are as bad as one another. The continuing personal attacks, mainly from the Leave campaigners, can only serve to undermine our whole faith in politicians even further.
It would be a tragedy of enormous proportions if the decision on Britain’s future in Europe were made on a tide of the most despicable cynicism. For goodness’ sake, let’s raise the tone of the debate before it’s too late.