Tories at war: Iain Duncan Smith accuses former Cabinet colleague of being two-faced over the EU as tensions escalate with a month to go before 

  • Duncan Smith claims Sajid Javid admits in private that he's backing Brexit
  • He suggested Javid was supporting EU membership to further his career
  • But Javid says Cameron's EU renegotiation had convinced him to support the Remain campaign 
  • Blue-on-blue attack came as infighting also broke out within Brexit Tories
  • Sarah Wollaston hits out at 'increasingly ugly tone of the Leave campaign
  • For more of the latest Brexit news visit www.dailymail.co.uk/brexit

The bitter civil war engulfing the Conservative party deepened further this morning after Iain Duncan Smith accused Business Secretary Sajid Javid of being two-faced over the EU. 

He claimed Mr Javid had admitted in private that he was backing Brexit, suggesting he is only supporting Britain staying in the EU to further his career.

The Business Secretary, who has voiced strong Eurosceptic views in the past, said he was 'reluctantly' backing Britain staying in the EU after David Cameron's renegotiation earlier this year and this morning he defended fresh Treasury analysis warning of dire consequences of Brexit.  

The extraordinary blue-on-blue attack came as infighting also broke out between the Tory Brexit camp, with leading Brexit supporter and Tory MP Sarah Wollaston criticising the tactics of Vote Leave, the official Out campaign.

The bitter civil war engulfing the Conservative party deepened further this morning after Iain Duncan Smith (pictured) accused Business Secretary Sajid Javid of being two-faced over the EU.
Iain Duncan Smith claimed Sajid Javid (pictured) had admitted in private that he was backing Brexit, suggesting he is only supporting Britain staying in the EU to further his career.

The bitter civil war engulfing the Conservative party deepened further this morning after Iain Duncan Smith (left) accused Business Secretary Sajid Javid (right) of being two-faced over the EU

She voiced concern over the 'increasingly ugly tone of the Leave campaign,' adding: 'The public deserve better'.

Ms Wollaston, a practicing GP and chair of the Commons health committee, stated in an article for The Times this morning: 'I will not hand out Vote Leave's deliberately misleading leaflets about the NHS.' 

Remarkably she said she could not support Vote Leave because of its 'cynical distortion' of the truth, which 'undermines the credibility of other arguments'.

Leading Brexit supporter and Tory MP Sarah Wollaston (pictured) criticised the tactics of Vote Leave, the official Out campaign 

Leading Brexit supporter and Tory MP Sarah Wollaston (pictured) criticised the tactics of Vote Leave, the official Out campaign 

And hinting that she could be tempted to take the dramatic step of switching sides, the independent-minded Tory MP said she remained 'very torn about this referendum'.  

Mr Javid took to the airwaves this morning to defend today's publication of a Treasury report that warns of major short-term risks of a Brexit vote. 

He told the Today programme the Treasury's 'serious, sober analysis' showed up to 500,000 jobs could be lost within two years and a Brexit vote could send the UK economy back into a recession. 

But speaking minutes later on the same programme, Mr Duncan Smith said he was 'deeply disappointed' in Mr Javid as 'having privately said how much he wanted the UK to leave the EU he is now on defending this terrible report'.

Pressed on whether Mr Javid had told him he wanted Britain to quit the EU, the straight-talking Mr Duncan Smith said: 'He has.'

And asked whether that meant the Business Secretary was 'lying in public,' Mr Duncan Smith replied:  'He has written it in an article.' 

But earlier Mr Javid defended his decision to back Britain's continued membership of the EU - despite his previously Eurosceptic views. 

He said the Prime Minister's renegotiation of Britain's membership of the deal in February had convinced him to stay in the EU.  

'At that time no one knew what the final deal would be,' Mr Javid said. 'Look what has been achieved in this renegotiation. Now that's being put to the British people.'

He added: 'Since the announcement of the referendum we have far more detail of the impact, such as this report, that is coming out.' 

Today's Treasury report comes exactly a month before the EU referendum. 

It warns that a vote to leave the EU could cause a recession on the scale of the credit crunch. 

Iain Duncan Smith (pictured on Sky News this morning) claimed Sajid Javid had admitted in private that he was backing Brexit, suggesting he is only supporting Britain staying in the EU to further his career

Iain Duncan Smith (pictured on Sky News this morning) claimed Sajid Javid had admitted in private that he was backing Brexit, suggesting he is only supporting Britain staying in the EU to further his career

David Cameron delivers the blood-curdling warning alongside George Osborne in Hampshire today

David Cameron delivers the blood-curdling warning alongside George Osborne in Hampshire today

Presenting the analysis in a grim joint appearance, David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne said there would be a 'profound' economic shock from leaving the EU.

Mr Cameron said the country would effectively be voting to 'self destruct' and insisted it would have a devastating impact on house prices, shopping costs and employment.

SUPPORT FOR EU AMONG BUSINESS LEADERS IS FALLING, POLL FINDS 

John Longworth (pictured), who was forced to resign as director general of the British Chambers of Commerce after he declared his support for Brexit earlier this year, said the ICSA survey proved that David Cameron had failed to win over business leaders in his campaign to keep Britain in the EU

John Longworth (pictured), who was forced to resign as director general of the British Chambers of Commerce after he declared his support for Brexit earlier this year, said the ICSA survey proved that David Cameron had failed to win over business leaders in his campaign to keep Britain in the EU

Support for the European Union among Britain's business leaders is falling, according to fresh research published this morning.

The Governance Institute's (ICSA) survey found barely a third of FTSE 350 companies back the Brussels union, down by a quarter since David Cameron secured his EU renegotiation in February.

Just over four in ten top firms believe a Brexit vote would be damaging, with a majority (57 per cent) saying it would not harm their business. 

Only a third of companies view EU membership as having a positive effect on their business - down from 61 per cent in December. 

The Vote Leave campaign jumped on the findings as proof that Mr Cameron's EU deal had failed and that Britain would thrive outside the EU. 

John Longworth, who was forced to resign as director general of the British Chambers of Commerce after he declared his support for Brexit earlier this year, said: 'The remain camp's concerted campaign to do down the economy has failed. 

'In fact it has had the opposite effect as the EU supporters have failed to make a positive case for continuing to hand Brussels more control of our economy, our democracy and our borders.'

'Business recognises it is possible for Britain to continue trading across Europe, part of the free trade zone that exists from Iceland to turkey, without handing Brussels £350 million a week and EU judges ultimate power over our laws. On 23 June the safe option is to take back control.'  

The claims came as the Treasury published analysis showing the economy would shrink by 1 per cent in a single quarter if there is a leave vote on June 23.

But Mr Duncan Smith has already dismissed the document as dishonest and 'deeply biased'. He said it had failed to note any of the potential 'upsides' of leaving the EU.  

'Every Treasury report has a central presumption from which there are downsides and then there are upsides,' he said. 

'They have today chosen only to produce the downside. That makes this report categorically unfair and biased as a Treasury report.'

The document suggests the economy will be tipped into a recession by Brexit, with Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a key measure of economic strength, as much as 6 per cent lower than it would have been by 2018.

The slump could cost as many as 500,000 jobs, the assessment says. 

Today's analysis goes further than comments from Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, who sparked anger this month by saying Brexit could cause a recession.

Treasury sources said all scenarios modelled by officials pointed to a 'technical recession' – defined as four consecutive quarters of falling GDP.

Figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) predict that Britain's GDP is currently set to grow by 4.2 per cent over the next two years. 

In the Treasury's 'cautious' scenario, Britain would negotiate a new EU trade deal, but Brexit would still cause an economic 'shock' resulting in GDP being 3.6 per cent lower than it would have been – equal to a modest 0.6 per cent rise over two years. 

In a second 'plausible' scenario, there would be no EU trade deal and Brexit would spark a 'severe shock', leaving GDP 6 per cent lower than it would have been – equal to a 1.8 per cent fall by 2018.

Mr Osborne - who will outline the said: 'It's only been eight years since Britain entered the deepest recession our country has seen since the Second World War. 

'The British people have worked so hard to get our country back on track. Do we want to throw it all away?

'With exactly one month to go to the referendum, the British people must ask themselves this question – can we knowingly vote for a recession?

'Does Britain really want this DIY recession? Because that's what the evidence shows we'll get if we vote to leave the EU.'

Mr Osborne will launch the document at an event today with David Cameron, just 72 hours before the start of the 'purdah' period, during which ministers are banned from making announcements that could influence the vote. The first postal ballots will be sent out on Friday.

The Chancellor and the PM have also rejected claims they are scaremongering. 

They wrote in the Daily Telegraph: 'When this is being backed up by the International Monetary Fund, the OECD, the London School of Economics, eight former US Treasury secretaries, the President of the United States of America, businesses big and small, every one of our allies and trading partners and the Governor of the Bank of England, it isn't a conspiracy but a consensus. 

'We are clear, as is the vast majority of the Conservative Cabinet: this is simply a price that is not worth paying.'

Private polling for both camps suggests previous Treasury warnings had a marked, short-term impact on support for Remain.

But Mr Duncan Smith has hit back, pointing out the Treasury was stripped of its role in economic forecasting six years ago because its record was so poor.

The former work and pensions secretary, who quit the Cabinet in March, said: 'This Treasury document is not an honest assessment but a deeply biased view of the future and it should not be believed by anyone. 

'It is a fact that we hand over £350million a week to the EU. 

'If we vote to leave we can take back control of that money and use it to help people here in Britain.'

'They have today chosen only to produce the downside. That makes this report categorically unfair and biased as a Treasury report.'

Mr Duncan Smith also laid into Mr Javid for welcoming the analysis as 'sober and serious'. He said he was 'deeply disappointed' in the Business Secretary as in the past he had 'privately said how much he wanted the UK to leave the EU'.

Treasury sources last night said the forecast was based on three factors that could suppress economic growth: a 'transition effect' as Britain becomes 'less open to trade and investment'; an 'uncertainty effect', with businesses and families putting spending on hold until the dust settles; and a 'financial conditions effect', meaning turmoil in the financial markets.  

Mr Osborne has previously been criticised for claims that Brexit would lead to families being £4,300 worse off than they would have been by 2030 and that house prices would be at least 10 per cent lower than they would have been by 2018.

Meanwhile Boris Johnson and employment minister Priti Patel are among more than 20 Leave-supporting MPs who have written an open letter claiming the EU is preventing stronger ties with Commonwealth countries.

THE APOCALYPSE IS COMING! IF YOU BELIEVE BOTH SIDES WHATEVER THE RESULT ON JUNE 23 WE'RE ALL DOOMED 

David Cameron has warned of war and recession during the referendum campaign 

David Cameron has warned of war and recession during the referendum campaign 

David Cameron and George Osborne today warned Brexit would be the 'self-destruct' option for Britain as they unveiled forecasts the nation's economy would be plunged into a recession immediately by a vote to quit. 

IMF Chief Christine Lagarde said the consequences of an 'out' vote ranged from 'bad to very bad', with nearly 10 per cent potentially being wiped off the economy. 

Labour's former deputy leader Harriet Harman suggested leaving the union could boost sexism.

She said Brussels had been a 'strong friend' to women and a vote to quit the union would be a 'major step back' in the fight for gender equality, she argued. 

David Cameron suggested that leaving could trigger another war in Europe in remarks that provoked a major backlash.

Highlighting the sacrifice of UK forces in the Second World War, the Prime Minister said the 'risk' of another conflict should not be ignored.

'Can we be so sure that peace and stability on our continent are assured beyond any shadow of doubt?' he said

'The Bank of England governor also raised the prospect that Brexit could push the economy into recession.

Mark Carney took the unusual step of saying it was 'possible' that UK growth could shrink after a vote to leave on June 23 as he warned of years of market turmoil. 

Boris Johnson enraged the Remain campaign to claim the EU had the same goal as Hitler 

Boris Johnson enraged the Remain campaign to claim the EU had the same goal as Hitler 

Vote Leave have repeatedly claimed quitting the EU would save Britain £350million every week that it could instead spend on other priorities - such as the NHS.

But the claim has been repeatedly dismissed as untrue by the Remain campaign and Sir Andrew Dilnot, of the UK Statistics Authority, said it was 'potentially misleading' because it ignored the rebate.

The official Out campaign claimed polling in Turkey found 12 million of them would want to move to the UK if they were handed free movement.

The campaign suggested the migration would also lead to far higher numbers of criminals travelling to Britain while Tory MP David Davis said an influx of Turkish workers would drive down wages.

Boris Johnson claimed the European Union wanted the same goal as Adolf Hitler - but was pursuing it via 'different methods'.

The ex-London Mayor said the dream of a European superstate was a flawed attempt to reclaim the golden age of the Roman empire in Europe. 

Out campaigners have insisted remaining in the European Union - and particularly the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice - makes it impossible for Britain to secure its borders against terrorists.

They claim free movement rules mean suspects can walktz into Britain unopposed. 

 

Why we MUST quit the EU, by Cameron's guru: Friend and strategist Steve Hilton breaks ranks on Brexit to say Britain will be 'literally ungovernable' unless we take back power from the self-serving elite

David Cameron’s closest friend in politics today, Steve Hilton (pictured) breaks ranks to say Britain must leave the ‘arrogant and unaccountable’ EU

David Cameron’s closest friend in politics today, Steve Hilton (pictured) breaks ranks to say Britain must leave the ‘arrogant and unaccountable’ EU

David Cameron’s closest friend in politics today breaks ranks to say Britain must leave the ‘arrogant and unaccountable’ EU.

In a shattering blow to the Prime Minister, Steve Hilton claims the UK is ‘literally ungovernable’ as a democracy while it remains in a club that has been ‘corruptly captured’ by a self-serving elite.

And in an attack on Project Fear, the former No 10 adviser dismisses claims by Mr Cameron, the IMF and the Bank of England that being in the EU makes us more secure.

In an exclusive Daily Mail article, Mr Hilton – who persuaded Mr Cameron to stand for Tory leader – also delivers a devastating assessment of the PM’s referendum deal.

He says Mr Cameron made only ‘modest’ demands of Brussels – and that even these were swatted contemptuously aside. He also warns that Brussels will take revenge on Britain for the referendum if it votes to stay, by imposing fresh diktats.

Mr Hilton concludes: ‘A decision to leave the EU is not without risk. But I believe it is the ideal and idealistic choice for our times: taking back power from arrogant, unaccountable, hubristic elites and putting it where it belongs – in people’s hands.’

His declaration for Brexit with exactly a month to go until polling day will send tremors through No 10.

Along with Michael Gove, he provided the intellectual heft behind Mr Cameron’s rise to power.

Both men now argue that the PM is wrong to urge voters to remain in what Mr Hilton condemns as the ‘grotesquely unaccountable’ Brussels club. The former policy guru’s intervention came as:

■ George Osborne sparked fresh accusations of scaremongering by claiming Britain would be tipped into a year-long ‘DIY recession’ if it leaves the EU;

■ Mr Cameron clashed with one of his senior ministers over his support for Turkish EU membership;

■ Rival camps in the referendum traded blows over the impact on the health service, with NHS boss Simon Stevens saying the organisation’s financial woes could be made even worse by Brexit.

Mr Hilton, who remains close to the Prime Minister, had previously declined to be drawn into what is already a bitter ‘blue on blue’ row. But today he claims the key issue for him is that Britain cannot make its own laws and control its own destiny from inside the EU.

Mr Hilton says Brussels directives have crept into every corner of Whitehall and that less than a third of the Government’s workload is the result of trying to fulfil its own promises and policies.

The rest is generated either by the ‘anti-market, innovation-stifling’ EU or a civil service dancing to the tune of Brussels, he says. Mr Hilton continues: ‘It’s become so complicated, so secretive, so impenetrable that it’s way beyond the ability of any British government to make it work to our advantage.

In a shattering blow to the Prime Minister, Steve Hilton (pictured together in a Cabinet Room at Number 10) claims the UK is ‘literally ungovernable’ as a democracy while it remains in a club that has been ‘corruptly captured’ by a self-serving elite

In a shattering blow to the Prime Minister, Steve Hilton (pictured together in a Cabinet Room at Number 10) claims the UK is ‘literally ungovernable’ as a democracy while it remains in a club that has been ‘corruptly captured’ by a self-serving elite

In an attack on Project Fear, Hilton (pictured with Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne, left) dismisses claims by Mr Cameron, the IMF and the Bank of England that being in the EU makes us more secure.

In an attack on Project Fear, Hilton (pictured with Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne, left) dismisses claims by Mr Cameron, the IMF and the Bank of England that being in the EU makes us more secure.

‘Membership of the EU makes Britain literally ungovernable, in the sense that no administration elected by the people can govern the country.’

Mr Hilton warns that the tentacles of the EU have placed constraints on everything from employment law to family policy, ‘all determined through distant, centralised processes we hardly understand, let alone control’.

Mr Cameron has spent recent weeks insisting that Brussels is working in the best interests of British families, and that leaving would clobber incomes and house prices. But Mr Hilton dismisses this as nonsense, describing the EU as being ‘anti-trade’ and ‘anti-enterprise’.

The former director of strategy, who left No 10 in 2012 to work in the US, is scathing about our supposed ‘special status’ with Brussels which was negotiated by the PM in February. And he warns that an emboldened EU will punish the UK if it votes to remain.

THE SCRUFFY GURU WHO PUT DAVE ON THE PATH TO NUMBER 10

The shaven-headed Mr Hilton is the Prime Minister’s oldest friend in politics, and for years was his closest adviser

The shaven-headed Mr Hilton is the Prime Minister’s oldest friend in politics, and for years was his closest adviser

By JAMES SLACK FOR THE DAILY MAIL 

David Cameron has spoken publicly of his ‘disappointment’ that family friend Michael Gove decided to campaign for Brexit.

But to lose Steve Hilton to the Out camp – and at such a crucial stage in a bitter referendum battle that has already split the Tory Party in two – is arguably just as big a blow.

The shaven-headed Mr Hilton is the Prime Minister’s oldest friend in politics, and for years was his closest adviser. It was the Oxford-educated guru who first encouraged Mr Cameron to run for party leader in 2005.

The PM trusted him completely – Mr Hilton sat at the heart of the Cameron-led party and its Notting Hill set, and was godfather to Mr Cameron’s son, Ivan.

Yet, on the issue which will inevitably define the PM’s premiership, he has been unable to carry the support of the man who put him on the path to No 10.

The most common description of Mr Hilton is as a pint-sized Rasputin.

He is perhaps best known for his scruffy appearance – he used to pad around No 10 wearing just his socks, does not wear a suit and is usually pictured wearing cycling gear.

But Mr Hilton has been described by political commentators as being just as important to Mr Cameron as Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson were to Tony Blair. In opposition, he was credited with changing Mr Cameron from an Old Etonian ‘Tory boy’ into the modern, cycling, green politician able to speak to Britain.

Ian Birrell, who worked alongside Mr Hilton in No 10 as a speech writer, describes ‘his restless determination to transform Britain’. In 2012, he wrote: ‘He is... an iconoclast and an idealist, prepared to confront the cosy consensus of the civil service and fight those politicians who prize pragmatism over principles.’

It is that cosy consensus – from the pro-EU views of those same big firms, the Bank of England and the rest – that Mr Hilton is challenging again now. Mr Hilton is the son of Hungarian refugees who fled their home during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

Ferociously bright, he went on a scholarship to Christ’s Hospital School in Sussex, before reading Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Oxford – the same subject as the PM.

The pair became friends when they worked together at Conservative Central Office during the 1992 General Election, alongside George Osborne. Mr Cameron went on to work as a special adviser to Norman Lamont and Michael Howard. Mr Hilton departed to the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, before setting up his own consultancy, Good Business, which advised companies including McDonald’s on how they could do good by being socially responsible.

The Remain camp has tried to characterise those who want to quit the EU as being the old-fashioned Tory Right or having Ukip tendencies. It is, however, impossible to slide Mr Hilton neatly into this box (nor, dispelling this particular myth, is it possible to view Michael Gove in this way). Indeed, in 2001 he is said to have been so disenchanted with the Tories’ drift to the Right under William Hague that he supported the Green Party.

It was the Oxford-educated guru who first encouraged Mr Cameron (pictured together in 2015) to run for party leader in 2005

It was the Oxford-educated guru who first encouraged Mr Cameron (pictured together in 2015) to run for party leader in 2005

It was following the Tory Party’s third drubbing at the hands of Tony Blair, in 2005, that he returned full-time to the fold, and told Mr Cameron to run for party leader.

Mr Hilton is a firm believer in marriage and families – he has publicly urged the PM to do more to support them.

He is married to Rachel Whetstone, a former spokesman to Michael Howard and senior executive at Google. She now holds the post of Vice President of Policy and Communications at taxi app firm Uber.

It was in large part a desire to keep his family in the same place that he took up the offer of a post at Stanford University in 2012, after his wife’s work led her to the US.

Another reason, of course, was his exasperation with the EU and the way directives from Brussels had crept into every corner of Whitehall, stopping the elected government from implementing its wishes.

But there is a big difference between being frustrated with the EU and going over the top and declaring it is in Britain’s best interests to leave.

Only last month, Mr Hilton told the BBC he was not ‘going to get into the argument’ on the EU referendum. At the time, this must have come as a huge relief to the PM, following the loss of Mr Gove and his old sparring partner Boris Johnson to Leave.

Today, as he digests Mr Hilton’s devastating critique of a Brussels club which Mr Cameron is determined to keep the UK a part of, the mood inside No 10 will be very much darker.

The PM trusted him completely – Mr Hilton sat at the heart of the Cameron-led party and its Notting Hill set, and was godfather to Mr Cameron’s son, Ivan

The PM trusted him completely – Mr Hilton sat at the heart of the Cameron-led party and its Notting Hill set, and was godfather to Mr Cameron’s son, Ivan

In comments that will be leapt upon by the Leave campaign, he says: ‘The arrogant and dismissive treatment of Britain’s relatively modest demands in the 2015/2016 negotiations shows that the EU is just not interested in anything other than superficial change.

‘You might as well hope for Vladimir Putin to embrace liberal democracy.’

He adds: ‘One way of thinking about this referendum is that the choice is actually not between staying and leaving; but between leaving, and joining a new EU.

‘It would be the EU unleashed, freed from the constraints of having to placate the pesky British ... Once they know we will never leave, all our leverage will be gone.’

Mr Hilton also reveals he was ‘amazed’ to hear Mr Cameron say that Brussels, rather than Nato, makes Britain safer from terrorists and rogue states.

‘The idea that a British Prime Minister can’t protect Britain properly without the EU is frankly astonishing and, if true, rather alarming,’ he writes. ‘But of course it’s not true.’

BRUSSELS 'WILL NOT FORGET' HITLER JIBE 

Brussels will take revenge on Britain if we leave the EU over Boris Johnson’s remarks comparing EU goals to Hitler’s, the UK’s European Commissioner has warned.

Jonathan Hill, the EU’s commissioner for financial services, said other member states would seek to give the UK a poor deal in Brexit negotiations as they would feel a ‘deep sense of rejection’.

The European Commission has repeatedly pledged not to campaign ahead of the referendum, but Lord Hill last night launched a scathing attack on supporters of Leave. In a speech at the London School of Economics, the Tory peer referred specifically to remarks by the former London mayor a fortnight ago comparing EU efforts towards building a federal superstate with Hitler’s plans to dominate the continent.

Lord Hill said: ‘There would be a deep sense of rejection felt by Britain’s European partners – particularly given some Leave campaigners have spent years accusing them of incompetence, corruption and comparing them recently to the darkest figures in European history.’ 

BBC WON'T PIT GOVE AGAINST PM ON TV

The BBC has caved in to No10’s demands that David Cameron will not go head to head in a TV clash with Michael Gove.

Instead, Mr Gove, the Justice Secretary and Vote Leave champion, will answer questions on the case for leaving the EU in a special edition of Question Time in Nottingham on June 15.

On June 19, the Prime Minister appears on the programme in Milton Keynes to make the case for staying in the EU. Both shows will be screened at 6.45pm.

Although Eurosceptics will be disappointed that Mr Cameron is not pitted against quick-witted Mr Gove, they are likely to be relieved that he is not debating with Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who is deemed too divisive to appeal to undecided voters.

On Thursday at 8pm, the BBC will screen How Should I Vote, a debate for young people. The panel includes Scottish nationalist Alex Salmond and Labour’s former home secretary Alan Johnson for Remain, with former defence secretary Liam Fox and Ukip MEP Diane James for Leave. 

 

How the EU makes Britain IMPOSSIBLE to govern: With devastating logic, based on his years at the heart of power, the PM's former policy guru makes an explosive intervention in the Brexit debate - and argues we simply HAVE to leave

The most common description of Mr Hilton is as a pint-sized Rasputin

The most common description of Mr Hilton is as a pint-sized Rasputin

By STEVE HILTON FOR THE DAILY MAIL 

Not long after starting work in Downing Street, I found myself on a Eurostar train heading for Brussels. It was an eye-opening trip. But its origin lay in a truly shocking discovery some weeks earlier.

Before the 2010 general election, Francis Maude and Oliver Letwin, two of the Conservative Party’s key policymakers, and I had worked with each Tory shadow minister on detailed plans for the implementation of our policies — including work to understand how the EU would affect what we wanted to do.

We thought we had a pretty good idea of how to handle — or, ideally, circumnavigate — the constraints imposed by European rules, regulations and bureaucracy. However, we were little prepared for the sheer scale of it all.

After just a few weeks in government, I was struck by how many things the Government was doing that the Prime Minister and his team didn’t just not know about but actively disagreed with.

I investigated. It turned out that every few days, a pile of paperwork about a foot high was circulated in Whitehall. The paperwork gave the go-ahead for Government action and was supposedly based on written approval from the relevant ministers.

But here’s the catch: ministers were given two days to respond to any proposal. If no response came, then this was taken as a ‘yes’.

There was no way any minister could possibly read all the proposals by the deadline. Furthermore, there was an unspoken rule that one department wouldn’t interfere in proposals coming from another. In fact, as I recall, there was only one minister who regularly did so (much to the consternation of the others), and that was Michael Gove.

From my vantage point at No 10, though, I wanted to know where it all came from. What were these ‘requests for policy clearance’, as they were known? How many were really necessary for the delivery of our promises?

I asked for a detailed audit.

It turned out that some 30 per cent of government action was relevant to what we were supposed to be doing. The rest — you’ve guessed it — was generated from within the civil service machine, the majority coming from the EU.

Steve Hilton and BBC political editor Nick Robinson at the Spectator Magazine Summer Party at Their offices in Old Queen Street, Westminster

Steve Hilton and BBC political editor Nick Robinson at the Spectator Magazine Summer Party at Their offices in Old Queen Street, Westminster

That’s why I found myself on that Eurostar to Brussels. I wanted to know: how exactly do we end up with all these policies we don’t want, which no one in Britain voted for, and which waste so much time, energy and money?

With us on the journey was Sir Kim Darroch, then Britain’s Permanent Representative to the European Union — our top EU diplomat.

He briefed us on Brussels procedures, and how we might stop — or at least reduce — the flow of unwanted bureaucracy. It was a fascinating and enlightening conversation. The only problem was: almost everything he told us turned out to be completely wrong.

We spent the following day meeting various players in the Brussels set-up, in the European Commission, Parliament and Council, who explained how things really got done. And it slowly dawned on us that the man tasked with representing Britain in the EU literally didn’t understand how it worked.

Now, before anyone jumps down my throat, saying ‘there he goes again, attacking the civil service’, I want to make it clear that I have the highest respect for Sir Kim, who is a model public servant and now our Ambassador in Washington.

It’s not his fault: it’s the system that’s to blame.

It’s become so complicated, so secretive, so impenetrable that it’s way beyond the ability of any British government to make it work to our advantage — even though I have no doubt that things have improved since the Coalition Government’s early days.

Hilton is perhaps best known for his scruffy appearance – he used to pad around No 10 wearing just his socks, does not wear a suit and is usually pictured wearing cycling gear

Hilton is perhaps best known for his scruffy appearance – he used to pad around No 10 wearing just his socks, does not wear a suit and is usually pictured wearing cycling gear

In this debate on the EU referendum, it’s easy to throw around terms like ‘sovereignty’ and ‘democracy’; ‘freedom’ and ‘bureaucracy’. But in the end, we’re debating not some abstract concept, but a very specific question about how our country should be run.

And my view, based on a pragmatic, non-ideological assessment of how the EU operates, is that as long as we are members, our country cannot be ‘run’. Membership of the EU makes Britain literally un-governable, in the sense that no administration elected by the people can govern the country.

A democracy is based on the notion that the people — or their directly-elected representatives — are able to decide issues for themselves. And yet membership of the EU brings with it constraints on everything from employment law to family policy, all determined through distant, centralised processes we hardly understand, let alone control.

Mr Hilton (pictured with Samantha Cameron) has been described as being just as important to Mr Cameron as Alastair Campbell was to Tony Blair

Mr Hilton (pictured with Samantha Cameron) has been described as being just as important to Mr Cameron as Alastair Campbell was to Tony Blair

You may say: Well, that’s government for you — it always involves compromise. Indeed it does, but at least in a democracy, the compromises are clear and transparent and can be argued over and influenced by the people who are affected by them. Yet no such possibility exists in the grotesquely unaccountable EU.

As I say to my American friends who don’t really get what the EU is: ‘All you need to know is that it has three presidents, none of whom is elected.’

The European Union was born out of lofty ideals. And for many years, it served a valuable purpose. As an expression of the liberal values of democracy and freedom, it was a beacon to the subjugated peoples of Europe — including in Communist Hungary, from where my own parents fled.

But, today, the EU has become the institutional manifestation of almost everything I argue against in my book, More Human.

There, I set out my view that the systems and structures we have designed to run the modern world have become too big, bureaucratic and distant from the human scale. And I make the case for what is in many ways a classical liberal reform agenda: I am pro-market, pro-enterprise, pro-trade, pro-putting power in people’s hands.

The EU does the opposite. It is anti-market, stifling innovation and competition with its statism, corporatism and bureaucracy.

It is anti-enterprise, acting in the interests of the big businesses that have corruptly captured the levers of power in Brussels through their shameless lobbying and insider deal-making, enabling a gradual corporate takeover of our country.

The European Union is anti-trade, locking developing countries out of world markets with its evil Common Agricultural Policy that feather-beds French farmers while keeping African farmers trapped in poverty — and despair.

And I don’t think even the EU’s most fervent supporters would ever claim that it ‘puts power in people’s hands’. The whole point of the EU is to take power out of people’s hands in pursuit of a greater good. The trouble is, it’s not good enough.

In opposition, Hilton (pictured with Cameron in Mumbai) was credited with changing Mr Cameron from an Old Etonian ‘Tory boy’ into the modern, cycling, green politician able to speak to Britain

In opposition, Hilton (pictured with Cameron in Mumbai) was credited with changing Mr Cameron from an Old Etonian ‘Tory boy’ into the modern, cycling, green politician able to speak to Britain

These are issues that a reformed EU might address. I could certainly live with an imperfect EU that nevertheless showed some willingness towards dispersing, rather than centralising, power.

But it is perfectly obvious to everyone, including Mr Cameron, that no such reorientation will ever be countenanced.

The arrogant and dismissive treatment of Britain’s relatively modest demands in the 2015/2016 negotiations shows that the EU is just not interested in anything other than superficial change. You might as well hope for Vladimir Putin to embrace liberal democracy. Of course, the EU is perfectly entitled to such a disposition. But it’s as well to be clear about it.

And so one way of thinking about this referendum is that the choice is actually not between staying and leaving — but between leaving, and joining a new EU.

Because the EU after a British vote to stay would be a very different creature from the one we have today. It would be the EU unleashed, freed from the constraints of having to placate the pesky British with their endless complaining and threats to leave.

Once they know we will never leave, all our leverage will be gone. Look how they treated a British Prime Minister armed with the threat of Brexit. Can you imagine how they would treat a future PM without such a powerful card to play?

And remember that this is for the long term. Even if you think Cameron’s deal will protect us from the worst excesses of the EU, the fact is that he will be in office for only another four years at most.

The pair became friends when they worked together at Conservative Central Office during the 1992 General Election, alongside George Osborne. Mr Cameron went on to work as a special adviser to Norman Lamont and Michael Howard (pictured with Hilton at Folkestone Football Club)

The pair became friends when they worked together at Conservative Central Office during the 1992 General Election, alongside George Osborne. Mr Cameron went on to work as a special adviser to Norman Lamont and Michael Howard (pictured with Hilton at Folkestone Football Club)

What will happen in 14 years’ time? Or 24? Who knows what kind of Prime Minister we will have, and whether he or she will give up everything David Cameron negotiated — just like Tony Blair gave up the opt-out from the Social Chapter negotiated by John Major (a capitulation which meant that, under the system of qualified majority voting, Britain could subsequently be overruled by other European countries on issues such as working conditions and health and safety).

The one thing we can be certain of — because it’s based not on speculation or scaremongering but on what has happened in the past — is that the EU will only ever move in one direction: more centralisation, more bureaucracy, more power shifting further from people’s hands.

From that clarity should come an informed decision to leave. To regain control over our country’s destiny, so that a democratically elected government in Britain is free to carry out its mandate, whether that’s Left, Right or Centre.

For me, it would mean economic and employment policy that makes Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business; family policy that makes Britain the best place in the world to bring up children; competition, planning and government reform that finally allows us to prioritise the small, the local, the ‘inefficient’, the beautiful, the human.

Others would have a different agenda. But don’t you see, if a political party wins the votes, then that party should be allowed to make it happen.

That’s what it’s all about. That’s why I think we should leave.

People ask: what about the economy, and access to Europe’s Single Market? Would we end up like Norway? Or Switzerland?

Ian Birrell, who worked alongside Mr Hilton in No 10 as a speech writer, describes ‘his restless determination to transform Britain’. Pictured is Mr Hilton alongside former communications director Andy Coulson listening to Cameron's speech in 2007

Ian Birrell, who worked alongside Mr Hilton in No 10 as a speech writer, describes ‘his restless determination to transform Britain’. Pictured is Mr Hilton alongside former communications director Andy Coulson listening to Cameron's speech in 2007

No. We’re bigger than that; better than that. Our independent relationship with the EU would be like that of our peers — the U.S. is not a member of the EU, but the last time I checked, General Motors had no problem selling cars there. Or Heinz, ketchup. Or Starbucks, coffee.

It’s a particular vanity of politicians to believe that all good things in the world come from their actions. The economic reality is that our success in trade depends far more on fundamental factors such as comparative advantage — whether we are designing and making things others want to buy — than on politicians’ bureaucratic schemes.

Mr Hilton (pictured with wife Rachel Whetstone) is a firm believer in marriage and families – he has publicly urged the PM to do more to support them

Mr Hilton (pictured with wife Rachel Whetstone) is a firm believer in marriage and families – he has publicly urged the PM to do more to support them

But the bottom line on the economic argument is that no one really knows. It’s clearly ridiculous to claim that it’s settled in either direction; there are risks whatever we do.

The real choice is not economic security or economic risk, but what kind of government will equip us best to cope with a risky, fast-changing world?

I think, on balance, that the answer to that question is a government that we control, that can move at a pace we set, rather than the inevitably sclerotic speed of a committee of 28 countries, with vastly different circumstances.

Then we’re told that the EU is vital for our security. Really? I was pretty amazed when I first heard this point being made. The idea that a British Prime Minister can’t protect Britain properly without the EU is frankly astonishing and, if true, rather alarming.

But, of course, it’s not true. Yes, in a complex world of global threats, we need security co-operation with other countries — like what happens in NATO. Forgive me if I’ve missed something, but I wasn’t aware that this referendum is about leaving NATO.

And our closest security partner is the U.S. We manage to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in fighting terrorism and other threats without being locked in a supra-national institutional embrace. We co-operate as two countries. That’s what we would do if we left the EU.

But perhaps the most powerful argument for leaving the EU is to look at the people who are wheeled out to persuade us to stay: figures like the International Monetary Fund boss Christine Lagarde, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, advertising giant Sir Martin Sorrell, as well as the Confederation of British Industry and all the other Establishment stooges.

They want us to stay in the EU because their whole world depends upon it. Their lifestyle of summit meetings and first-class flights and five-star hotels; their flitting and floating from New York to Brussels to Beijing, serving the interests of the technocratic elite — the bankers, bureaucrats and accountants who run the modern world and who, regardless of which government is in power in which country, push the same old dogma of global-isation, privatisation and centralisation.

Despite Mr Hilton's (pictured with Andy Coulson) extensive history with the party, he has still decided to speak out about Brexit, believing the Prime Minister is wrong to urge voters to remain 

Despite Mr Hilton's (pictured with Andy Coulson) extensive history with the party, he has still decided to speak out about Brexit, believing the Prime Minister is wrong to urge voters to remain 

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a fan of global trade and a champion of the private sector.

But when those good things are accompanied by centralisation, the result is an unhealthy concentration of economic and political power that is fundamentally hostile to my belief in individual freedom and social responsibility, and my confidence in human nature and the good that will come when individuals, families and neighbourhoods work together without a far-away administrator’s master-plan.

A decision to leave the EU is not without risk, but I believe it is the ideal and idealistic choice for our times. Taking back power from arrogant, unaccountable, hubristic elites and putting it where it belongs. In people’s hands.

  • This is an adapted extract from a new revised paperback edition of More Human — Designing A World Where People Come First, by Steve Hilton, to be published on Thursday by WH Allen, £8.99. © Steve Hilton 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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