This matters in a debate which, perhaps more than any other, is about imagined motive rather than policy. While there are of course Euro-enthusiasts who believe that closer integration is in Britain's economic interest, a surprising number approach the question by asking, not "What are the benefits to the UK?" but "What kind of person do I think I am?" Europhilia is flaunted as a sign of internationalism and broad-mindedness, like speaking a foreign language (which, in my experience, Europhiles rarely do). In a narrative which casts Eurosceptics as Blimps, football hooligans or crashing bores, Heathcoat-Amory was a presentational problem.
The loss of his seat at the last general election was disastrous. It left Tory Eurosceptics without an obvious leader. To be sure, there is plenty of patriotic talent in the new intake. But no one has quite been able to fill the gap which Heathcoat-Amory has left, partly because of his seniority, partly because of his integrity, but mainly because of his indifference to publicity.
Heathcoat-Amory has used the past couple of years to produce his memoirs, Confessions of a Eurosceptic (Pen & Sword, £19.99). As you'd expect, it is brief, unstuffy and to the point.
Its tone is maintained even when the author comes to the suicide of his younger son, Matthew. The chapter is harrowing, precisely because it is written in such an unselfpitying way. Heathcoat-Amory quotes a reading from the funeral service, some lines from Romeo and Juliet ("When he shall die,/Take him and cut him out in little stars . . ."). The contrast with the no-nonsense tone of the rest of the book was so jarring that I found myself blinking back tears.
Here, in short, is a brisk and unpompous memoir which incidentally makes a brisk and unpompous case against the EU.