It has been a consistent theme of this website that Britain’s role in Europe is declining because of a lack of leadership. Yes, public opinion is drifting against the EU, but that’s hardly surprising when nobody is willing to put the opposite case. And yesterday we had empirical proof of this.
The Centre for British Influence through Europe (CBIE) issued an open letter to the prime minister signed by Conservative MPs (read it here). They claimed to have “dozens” of signatories, but count the names carefully and you will find only 15. Where are the others?
Elizabeth Rigby who wrote a story for the FT on the subject remarked that “Most stark thing? 10 MPs are anonymous such is level of anti-EU feeling in party”. Here is our lack of leadership laid bare.
MPs are elected to public office on the basis of their political opinions and actions. They are paid somewhat more than twice the average annual salary in this country in order to do so. And a whole bunch of Tory backbenchers are in hiding. If they were living in some kind of dictatorship, in fear or their liberty or their lives, then secrecy would make sense. But there is no comparison between the people who struggle in danger against tyranny and people who are elected members of the House of Commons.
It would have been better for the CBIE to have said they had 15 signatories who were willing to put their name to their view of Europe, rather than to claim “dozens” who actually include people who will do nothing of the sort.