Friday 4 March 2016

They want their country back, not yours

‘We want our country back!’ is the clarion cry of many who want Britain to leave the European Union.

But whose country do they want back exactly? Your country? My country? Or really, just their country? 

Before we leave the European Union and possibly change our country forever, we need to have an idea what sort of country we might be leaving behind, and what sort of country we’d get instead.

Look carefully at those who are now calling for Britain to change direction, especially those who are in government but are actively attacking the government – and in particular, criticising their leader and our Prime Minister, David Cameron. 

What could be their motive?

Those Tory government ministers – Michael Gove, Iain Duncan-Smith, Chris Grayling, John Whittingdale, Priti Patel, Theresa Villers, Dominic Raab and Andrea Leadsom – have broken government ranks. 

They have taken off their gloves and it seems are ready for a bare-fisted fight against their colleagues in government, whilst they themselves are still in government. It’s not a pretty or edifying sight. 

Those ‘Leavers’ are not mincing their words when it comes to rubbishing the pro-EU line that David Cameron is pursuing as the ‘official’ government position. Things are getting nasty and long friendships are now surely broken or will soon break. 

These government ministers must realise that if the referendum goes against them on 23 June and the electorate votes for Britain to remain in the EU, their careers in this government are over, maybe never to be resurrected. 


But these politicians are smart. They have calculated a different scenario. If Britain votes to leave the European Union, they could be the ones to take power. They could be the next government in waiting, and they may not have long to wait.

And in this, just look at the many other Conservatives who are also backing the call for Brexit. Leading Tory MP and London Mayor Boris Johnson – no doubt considered (at least by him) as the prime minister in waiting. 

Well-known Eurosceptic Tory MPs including David Davies; London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith; Dr Liam Fox; Owen Paterson; Bill Cash; Peter Bone; Bernard Jenkin; Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Indeed, so far 129 Tory MPs have declared that they are supporting Britain’s departure from the EU, against their government’s recommendation to the country. Some are claiming that most Tory MPs will back the Brexit vote.

In addition, some in the famous ‘old guard’ of the Tory Party have declared that they are backing the ‘Leave’ campaign. 

Former Conservative Chancellor, Nigel Lawson, is the Chairman of the ‘Vote Leave’ group. Another former Tory Chancellor, Norman Lamont, has just announced he’s also backing Britain to back-out of the EU.

Former Tory leader, Michael Howard, is also prominently supporting the Leave vote.

According to a poll by YouGov, most members of the Conservative Party – almost 60% - also want Britain to leave the European Union.

If the referendum results announced on 24 June spell Brexit, it will almost certainly be the end of David Cameron’s premiership and all those now in government who supported his plea for Britain to remain in the EU. 


Then what? There would be resignations and a new leader of the Conservative Party would be elected by the party’s membership for the first time under new rules. 

According to YouGov, “Boris Johnson now leads the pack of leadership contenders with 43% (of Conservative members) saying they will vote for him while 22% support George Osborne.”

On Brexit, we could have a new brand of Conservative government, with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. He might or might not call for a General Election. After all, under newish rules, another election would not need to be held for almost four years. 

Even if Boris decided on a snap General Election this summer, he might consider that the chances of victory were high. 

The Labour Party are in disarray and still not settled-in following the shock leadership victory of Jeremy Corbyn less than a year ago. At no point since 1945 has the Labour party's ratings been lower in opposition. 

The Lib-Dems are decimated. In last year’s General Election, they went from having 57 seats to just eight.

UKIP, with just one MP, turned out not to be the threat – or the ‘earthquake’ – that people, and especially David Cameron, feared.

The only strong party in opposition is the Scottish National Party, who on Brexit may well honour their promise to call for a referendum for Scotland to leave the United Kingdom and then apply to join the European Union. And Boris Johnson may well say good luck and goodbye.

So is all this a very clever and calculated move by Boris Johnson and other Tory ‘outers’ to seize their ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity? 

Could the strange kaleidoscope of events now presented before us be the golden, serendipitous moment in history that certain Tories hungry for power simply couldn’t pass up?


When these Conservative ‘leavers’ say they want Britain ‘out of the EU’, are they really ‘out for themselves’? When they say they want power brought back from Brussels, do they really mean that they want that power? 

When they say they want their country back, is it the country of old – the true-blue Tory Britain of the past – that these Tories have sorely missed and desperately want back?

And if this comes to pass, might these events be regarded by future historians as a remarkable albeit peaceful coup? 

Achieved not by a bullet, but by an ill-advised ballot that David Cameron really didn’t have to call, and which allowed his enemies (‘bastards’ as former Tory PM John Major called some of them) to snatch power just over a year after he won a General Election? 

If these old-style Tories do ‘get their country back’ our country will change. 

The country we’d be ‘getting back’ would be run by possibly the most right-wing Tory government anyone of us can remember. We could be back to ‘Rule Britannia’ with orthodox Tory Eurosceptics as our new political masters.

And not necessarily only Tory Eurosceptics either. 

To secure a referendum win, strange alliances may be formed. 

Nigel Farage announced last week that he puts victory in the referendum way above loyalty to his party, UKIP. Might he be offered a position-designate in the new Cabinet, that quite possibly Boris Johnson is now plotting in advance of a possible vote for Brexit by Britain?

If these Tory hopefuls get ‘their’ country back, what might be different? What will Britain be like post-Brexit and with Brexiters in charge?

For a possible answer, take a look at what the prominent ‘Leavers’ stand for – this you can easily do yourself, but here are some brief examples:
  • Long-term Eurosceptic and former Tory leader, Iain Duncan-Smith, is the Secretary of State for Works and Pensions. Social policies he proposed were described by the European Court of Justice as ‘unfit for a modern democracy’ and ‘verging on frighteningly authoritarian.’
  • Michael Gove was last year appointed as Secretary of State for Justice, with a mandate to scrap the Human Rights Act – which might only be possible if Britain leaves the European Union. As Education Secretary, Mr Gove was widely criticised for his heavy-handed education reforms and described as having a “blinkered, almost messianic, self-belief."
  • Chris Grayling is Leader of the House of Commons and was previously Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice. He provoked the first strike by barristers and solicitors for his cuts to legal aid. He backed reforms to curb the power of the European Court of Human Rights. He caused outrage with his comments that Christian owners of bed and breakfasts should have the right to turn away gay couples (he later apologised).
  • London Mayor, MP and Prime-Minister-hopeful, Boris Johnson, has emerged as the likely leader of the Tories who plan to ‘get their country back' upon Brexit. 
His buffoonery and gaffes delight some, but horrify others. He once joked that women only go to university to find a husband. He has often dithered on big issues, wavering last year on whether to return to the House of Commons whilst still London Mayor, and hesitating on whether to join the ‘Leave’ or ‘Remain’ campaigns in the referendum. Some have criticised him for allegedly joining ‘Leave’ only because of the possible opportunity to become Prime Minister.


We currently have the first undiluted true-blue Tory government of the millennium.

But imagine our current fully-fledged Tory government morphing into a new government consisting only of right-wing Eurosceptic Tories - with the softer liberal pro-EU Conservatives disbanded because they lost the referendum. 

A new Conservative government that wouldn't be subject to the progressive rules and safeguards of the European Union – such on workers’ rights, free movement and protection of the environment

Then imagine that we might not have an opportunity to vote-out such a new government until 2020.

If you’re one of those who say ‘we want our country back’ – have a think about what country you’d be getting back if we left the EU, and who’d then be in charge. 

Is the EU so bad, and the alternatives so good, that we’d want to risk exchanging what we've got, for what we’d get?

  • An updated and shorter version of this article is now available on my EU ROPE blog.

Other articles by Jon Danzig:


 Readers comments are very welcome, including opinions that oppose mine. Comments need to be on-topic and personal attacks will not be allowed. To read more about the style of debating that I encourage on all my blogs, please read my article: 'Debate, don't hate'

• Join and share the discussions about this article on Facebook and Twitter:

→ Britain after 23 June – please share THEY WANT THEIR COUNTRY BACK, NOT YOURS ‘We want our country back!’ is the...
Posted by Jon Danzig on Friday, 4 March 2016

• LBC Radio phone-in: If Britain leaves the EU, I will start a new campaign: 'I want my continent back'.  (4 minutes)

• Jon Danzig's post referendum video: 'Can Britain stop Brexit?'


  1. If they achieve Brexit I see London turning into the world's largest tax haven - it's the dodgier hedge funds etc who are backing the out campaign.

    In addition the bonfire of EU regulations will move us towards a system, similar to the poorer states in the US, with no workers rights, no benefits etc. Boris, Liam Fox etc have good friends in the far right of the Republican Party.

    So we will end up with something like the 1930s UK waiting for a financial crash and the majority unable to make ens meet.

  2. This is probably one of the most badly written blogs I've read so far on the subject. But carry on blogging Mr Danzig because you and people like you are us a great favour.

    1. Your comment doesn't really add much to the discussion, but fair enough if that's how you feel.

      In the space of just 24 hours my article has reached around 40,000 readers with multiple likes and shares (via Facebook), so clearly, my blog has resonated so far with large numbers... and that's just in the first day. :)

  3. The whole point about the EU disaster is that it has constantly caused huge issues for Tories in the past. The never welcomed the disunity it produced. For years we were sold the Euro as the right currency, no fool would touch that! The EU is deeply undemocratic and largely unelected. This article fails to recognise the historic divisions left or right and sees it as some right wing coup.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I don't agree that the EU is 'deeply undemocratic and largely unelected'. Most of the laws are democratically decided by the European Parliament, to whom the European Commission is responsible. Indeed, the Parliament has the democratic power to dismiss the entire Commission of the EU. I have visited both Parliaments of the European Union and witnessed for myself democracy at work. Unfortunately, this is rarely reported in the UK press.

      I do not see the EU as a right wing coup. My article here just discusses one possible scenario following a referendum win for 'Leave'.

      My other articles discuss the history of the EU and why it was established after the Second World War.

    2. Mr Jon Danzig, most mainstream media are pro-EU like you so they must be reporting every positive including "looking positive" things about the EU and close to zero negatives. All you have witnessed and thought of are purely your opinion and I do understand as this is your own blog. I have been watching almost every debate available in YouTube in the EU parliament and I have noticed how Nigel Farage rebuked the top people the likes of Juncker, Tusk, Schultz, Van Rompuy, even Merkel and Hollande about totalitarian system of the union. It also seems you forget that UK is at the top 10 of almost everything in the world e.g. economy, power, permanent member of security council, country with largest commonwealth, strong allies, I can go on and on and on. There are lots of sovereign and independent countries in the world who are enjoying freedom and high standard way of life like New Zealand, or even the satellite Taiwan, do you really believe that we are incapable to stand in our own feet???

    3. Most mainstream British newspapers are against the EU.

      Of course I believe that Britain can 'stand on its own feet'. I am sure Britain can survive outside the EU. But I believe that Britain will be safer, more prosperous and with greater global influence by continuing our membership of the EU.

      We have been a member of the EEC/EU for 43 years; we know what it's like good or bad. In that time I feel this country has made good progress (our economy was in bad shape when we first joined and we were then called 'the sick man of Europe'.)

      But nobody can be sure what Brexit might involve, and the Leave campaigners have not been able to adequately explain and assure on this issue.

      Personally, I don't believe that our membership of the EU is bad enough, or the Brexit alternatives good enough, to vote for Leave.

      We now await the decision of the British electorate.

      PS Please note that on this blog commentators are requested to post under their real names.

  4. It is true that at various times both the socialists and the conservatives have been pro and anti Europe. Mostly for very short term reasoning and internal power struggles within their own ranks. I have to agree with Jon that the EU is a fully democratic organisation. I read this complaint often and I would love to know where this stems from. Consider the EU Commission as the civil service of the EU and only has the power to propose legislation. The council and the European Parliament decide on the legislation. Both institutions fully democratic and its UK members in one way or another voted for by us. Perhaps we see too much of the commission president as a spokesperson.