Earlier this week, I took part in a BBC Radio Wales EU referendum phone-in, hosted by the genial Jason Mohammad.
As I drove over to the Bangor studio, I listened the the first half of the programme, which featured Geraint Talfan Davies, who chairs the Welsh section of Britain Stronger in Europe, the pro-Remain campaign.
Mr Talfan Davies is a prominent member of the Welsh media establishment. He is a a former controller of BBC Wales, and past chair of both the Welsh National Opera and the Arts Council of Wales. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Cardiff-based think tank, the Institute of Welsh Affairs. He is part of the nearest Wales has to contemporary aristocracy.The phone-in covered the usual campaign themes of the economy, immigration and security, which Mr Talfan Davies dealt with briskly. Then a caller called Neil from Cardiff came on the line. How much British sovereignty, he wondered, was the Remain campaign prepared to sacrifice in pursuit of the goal of a European superstate?
Mr Talfan Davies sounded pained and not a little perplexed. British sovereignty, he declared, was “a bit of a mirage”. We needed, he said (and I paraphrase) to focus less on the “abstract notion” of sovereignty and much more on “deep, deep collaboration” with our partners in the great European project, because that is how we would achieve the greatest influence in such important matters as the climate change talks.
That, I suggest, sums up the pro-Remain attitude to what Neil had rightly identified as the fundamental issue of this long campaign. Sovereignty no longer exists; and that, actually, is a pretty good thing. It’s nothing to worry about. It was only ever a mirage.
However, that is not the way that Neil and millions of other people across this country see it. It is the main reason, perhaps the only reason, that huge numbers of them will spend the next three weeks running street stalls, knocking on doors and stuffing leaflets through letterboxes. For them this referendum is the last chance they have to recover the sovereignty that is fast slipping away and will be snuffed out if Remain wins on 23 June. For without our sovereignty, we have no country.
All this will remain deeply perplexing to the metropolitan elites of London and Cardiff that have become used to the easy conventions of post-Lisbon Europe; but it makes perfect sense to those of us who simply want our country back.
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