Daniel Hannan is a writer and journalist, and has been Conservative MEP for South East England since 1999. He speaks French and Spanish and loves Europe, but believes that the European Union is making its constituent nations poorer, less democratic and less free.
Daily Express becomes the first national newspaper to campaign for withdrawal from the EU
Not before time…
Since 2001, opinion polls have registered a majority against EU membership. Yet, until yesterday, not a single national newspaper, nor any of the parties represented in the House of Commons, took this view: ultimate proof of this blog’s obsessive contention that people are wiser than their leaders.
It depends on precisely how you ask the question but, excluding the don’t knows, some 55 per cent of Britons would vote to leave the EU tomorrow . But their opinion is shared by just 2 per cent of their MPs – less than one per cent if we exclude the Ulster parties.
Today, the first national newspaper added its voice to the chorus. And what a melodic voice. In a front-page editorial, The Daily Express makes the case in largely economic terms, and in internationalist language:
Taking Britain out of the EU should not be seen as a move to “Little Englandism”. On the contrary, ours is a great trading nation with markets all over the world. The time has come to develop our neglected trading links with the new global powerhouses such as China and India.
Quite. We Eurosceptics love Europe: we know its cultures, speak its languages, admire its nations, cheer their patriotisms. We simply recognise that there is a wider world out there: a world that is growing while the EU is shrinking.
I contributed a short article to the Express, pointing out the economic disadvantages of membership. For me, the clinching statistics are those produced by the European Commission itself. Benefits of the single market: €120 billion a year. Cost of EU regulation: €600 billion a year. Go figure.