In a speech to Policy Exchange today, Steve Hilton—David Cameron’s former senior adviser—will make the case that ‘any intellectual rigorous examination makes it impossible for a Tory moderniser to support staying in the EU’. He argues that Tory modernisation was about trusting people, and that the EU does not; that modernisation was about localism, and that the EU is inherently centralising; and that the EU helps the rich and not the rest.
I think there’s much to be said for Hilton’s analysis. (Though, of course, it should be recognised that there are Tory modernisers on both sides of the argument.) But where Hilton is surely right is that the EU is not the future, it is an idea of its time—the late 20th century. Too much of the political support for staying In is simply backing for the status quo.
That Hilton is giving the speech at Policy Exchange, the spiritual home of Tory modernisation, is a reminder that this think tank is still the crucible for debate on the centre-right.