The campaign for Britain to remain in the EU, now titled ‘Britain Stronger in Europe’, is launching today with a swish video and scary speech. Sir Stuart Rose, the former CEO of Marks and Spencer, will claim say that every Briton is £450 better off thanks to our EU membership — a claim the Leave camps will undoubtedly counter with their own figures. And just in case you weren’t sure, Rose says ‘the choice facing us in this referendum is the biggest in a generation’. But what is most notable is Rose’s patriotic language. He will say:
‘To claim that the patriotic course for Britain is to retreat, withdraw and become inward looking is to misunderstand who we are as a nation.’
Rose will also attack those the Leave campaigners as the ‘quitters’ who are ‘running away’ from the chance of real reform in the EU. The patriotic/running scared message is interesting because it’s one usually weaponised by the Leave campaigns and it’s therefore significant that Rose is choosing these as the main themes for the In campaign. As Rob Oxley of Vote Leave counters on Twitter, no one on his side is doubting their patriotism, just the arguments.
The Britain Stronger in Europe launch video (watch above) features a variety of characters with a message that have easily come out of Conservative HQ: strength, stability and working together. Some of the notable celebrities used by Stronger In include Richard Reed, founder of Innocent Drinks, Karen Brady, vice chairman of West Ham and Apprentice star, Carolyn McCall, CEO EasyJet (who says ‘everything is easy because of Europe’), Sir Hugh Orde, the former president of ACPO, Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow, president of Universities UK and Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. As you might expect, it is slick with an upbeat, positive message.
Based on what we’ve seen so far, there are two dividing lines between how the Remain and Leave camps are running their campaigns. The Stronger In video is about celebrities and ordinary people, while Vote Leave’s first video was about economic arguments. The Stronger In campaign decided not to use their heavyweight politicians on film yet — as well as Stuart Rose, the campaign is backed up by all three living former Prime Ministers John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, as well as Sir Peter Wall, former head of the army. Privately, senior figures in the Leave camp acknowledge it will be hard to match the political heft of Major, Blair and Brown but will easily match Stronger In ‘like for like’ when it comes to other figures. And by being the underdogs in this race, they hope to rally support for taking on the establishment in London and Brussels.
The other dividing line is that there appears to only be one In campaign. While the mudslinging between Leave.EU and Vote Leave continues, Stronger In is the only operation that has launched campaigning for the Electoral Commission’s official designation of the Remain campaign. Although they haven’t used it yet, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Stronger In pointed out that their tribe is united, while Brexiters are struggling to come together.
The Spectator is hosting an evening discussion ‘Is the EU bad for business?’ at 7pm on Tuesday 20 October at The Royal College of Surgeons, WC2. Speakers include: Dominic Cummings, director of the ‘No’ campaign and Will Straw, executive director of the ‘Yes to Europe’ campaign and is chaired by Andrew Neil. For tickets and further information, click here.