Many members of the audience sounded as though they took exception to Helmer's presumptuous tone. Tone matters. If the eventual Eurosceptic campaign is defined by strident, hectoring voices rehashing old certainties and accusing all those who disagree with them of treason, then many voters will turn away.
A referendum will not be won easily. Forget what the polls say now. Many voters may say they dislike the EU, as they tend to distrust institutions run by politicians and bureaucrats. That does not mean they can be counted automatically in the "Out" column, especially once the Europhile media, led by the BBC, starts pumping out over-cooked propaganda about the risk to trade, jobs and much else besides. In a referendum campaign there will be millions of undecided Britons who will need careful persuading that an act which sounds risky and transgressive — leaving the EU and negotiating a trading relationship with our neighbours — is safe even to consider.
Clearly Britain's future lies in reconnecting with the burgeoning markets beyond Europe: in Asia, Africa, North and South America and especially the Commonwealth, which, as Hannan shows, now has a larger GDP and is growing much faster than the eurozone. Meanwhile we must maintain good relations, economic and political, with those who will always be our continental neighbours. The UK can leave the EU, but it cannot leave the neighbourhood. Nor do we wish to pull up the drawbridge to keep Europeans out. Instead, as David Cameron told French refugees from President Hollande's penal tax regime, we prefer to roll out the red carpet.
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