Bar room wags have long posed the question ‘How do you know if someone is from Yorkshire or a vegetarian? Don’t worry they’ll soon tell you.’
It now seems that one could easily change the question to ‘How do you know if someone will vote to leave the European Union?’ The punchline would be exactly the same because the ‘outers’ are making the most noise during the early stages of the referendum campaign.
Europe is one of the few issues which prompts Brits to break free from the stereotype which depicts us as reserved folk who never let on what they intend to do at the ballot box, particularly if you believe Prime Minister Cameron’s deal isn’t worth the paper it is written on.
There is the best part of four months to go before the biggest vote in living memory and it seems that whether or not we should decide to say adios or auf wiedersehen to the 27 other fellow members is the only thing many want to talk about right now. Of course, while it will be inconceivable to the chattering classes, there are a significant number who couldn’t give a stuffed pepper about what happens, and will go to great lengths to avoid the debate.
There is still an awful long way to go and John Humphrys, the daddy of grown up radio, cheerily informed us last week, we will encounter some 200 hours of Euro media debate in between now and then. It is surely enough to make even Robert Peston consider locking himself in the ITN broom cupboard with the Viz annual and boxset of The Sopranos for company until it all blows over.
Despite being a sufferer of terminal current affairs-itis, I have consistently predicted that I, along with the rest of those who have kissed a fellow human being and therefore have a life, will get fed up with the whole affair long before the big day.It all got exciting when Boris Johnson, the most ruthlessly ambitious blond since Marylin Monroe, shambled into the limelight, but it soon became tedious again once the likes of Diane Abbott and Michael Howard insisted on having their say. There is no doubt there is an awful lot at stake but long drawn out campaigns can be counter productive and while it is inconceivable the turnout on polling day will be nothing short of impressive, it is important the public feels properly informed.
While I have heard nothing which will convince me that leaving the security of the EU is the right thing to do, I have been left scratching my head by some of the daft arguments that fellow ‘innies’ have used, such as suggesting it won’t be as easy as it is now to visit continental destinations or eat anything other than egg and chips should we extend the middle finger to the rest of the gang.
The standard of debate isn’t going to get much better as the boffins and spin doctors explore the minutiae of every single argument and there are only so many times a reasonable person can stand being subjected to the wheezing Farage sneer or yet another visit to a factory by a jacketless Cameron. But we’d better get used to that and the endless drone of other people’s opinions.