I never expected to be in this position. Six months ago, I would have put myself in the 100% Remain camp. It simply wouldn’t have crossed my mind to vote the other way. But this morning, as I set off for the polling station, I was still having a little conversation with myself about whether I was doing the right thing. Even now, I’m still not absolutely sure. To listen to most of the pro-EU campaigners on Twitter and Facebook (yes, I know I shouldn’t pay so much attention to social media, but I can’t help it) you would think that the only arguments against voting to remain either come from xenophobes or tired old farts who want to go back to the 1940s. What has nagged away at me over the past few months is the lack of democratic accountability, the Eurozone fiasco and the Eurocrats’ failure to get to grips with the migration crisis. A lot of people seem to assume that support for the EU is the only way to head off the wave of right-wing populism we’re seeing across Europe. But what if it’s the high-handedness and opaque structure of the EU that’s causing the unrest in the first place? When even a committed Europhile such as the FT’s Gideon Rachman admits that the EU is “dysfunctional”, can I really put my trust in it? I’m still not sure of the answer to that one. A couple of things swayed me in the end. One was the short-term economic damage that Brexit might cause. Another was the lack of appealing personalities on the Leave team. And then there was the thought of David Cameron, a politician I’ve never liked, being replaced by Boris Johnson, a politician I really loathe. I suppose there’s one last reason reason too: a blind hope that the people who run the EU will finally acknowledge the need to acknowledge the concerns of people who feel they’re ignored by the elites.
(PS I ought to add a defence of Johnson here. He took an awful lot of criticism for his reference to Hitler and Barack Obama’s Kenyan ancestry. Seems to me people were way to quick to take offence to what struck me as uncontroversial debating points. But I know I’m in a tiny minority on that.)