EU Referendum

Why the Brexit referendum will be swung by the horrific events in Cologne

The Prime Minister with Angela Merkel at an EU Summit in Brussels earlier this month

The Prime Minister with Angela Merkel at an EU Summit in Brussels earlier this month  Photo: EPA

 So, about this EU referendum business. Until quite recently, the predictions were as follows: a third of Britons would vote to stay in even if Silvio Berlusconi and Sepp Blatter did a job share as President of Europe with compulsory pole-dancing classes for all females from the age of 15.

A third would vote to leave no matter how many concessions David Cameron manages to wrest, with sneaky Chinese burns, out of our aggrieved European partners.

The rest of us would not have the foggiest – but would probably do whatever some terribly knowledgeable person had recommended in the most recent article we’d read on the subject.

File photo: David Cameron has accepted there will be no deal before February – and the prospect of Brexit appears closer than ever

David Cameron believes Brexit is ‘not the right answer’ for Britain.  Photo: AP

I’m speaking for myself there, obviously, but I imagine that I’m not alone in being Euroclueless. It’s not for lack of trying, believe me. Over the past few months, I’ve forced myself to read those sections of the papers I normally hurl straight into the recycling pile. I’ve gathered that economists overwhelmingly feel that Brexit would damage UK growth.

But, hang on a mo, here is the brilliant economist Ruth Lea saying that the EU’s share of the global economy is shrinking inexorably and we need to be free to negotiate our own deals with favoured partner countries, which membership of the EU’s Customs Union prohibits.

Ever heard of the EU Customs Union? No need to pretend, madam, we’re all in the dark here. Apart from the highly partial statistics bandied about by the In and the Out campaigns, many of us know precisely rien, nada, nicht about the EU. Hell, I knew more going into my Physics O-level than I know going into the EU referendum, and the result of my Physics O-level was not going to shape the fate of our country for the next century.

A referendum on British membership of the European Union will take place by the end of 2017

A referendum on British membership of the EU will take place by the end of 2017  Photo: Reuters

It turns out that being Euroclueless matters quite a lot, because research by the British Future thinktank revealed last week that women could well determine the outcome of the referendum. Women are twice as likely to be undecided as men, with up to 25 per cent of us saying we don’t know how we’ll vote, compared to between 10 and 15 per cent of men.

The report says that female voters are instinctively more Eurosceptic than men, but we are also more risk averse, so could well end up voting to keep the status quo and stay in the EU.

“Essentially, Mrs Merkel has embarked on a vast social experiment while displaying reckless disregard for the difficulty of integration”

Then came Cologne. The cloud of official obfuscation over the appalling events of New Year’s Eve has lifted to reveal 516 offences, 40 per cent of them sexual assaults. German police now believe that the attacks were planned predominantly by “migrants and asylum seekers”, with young men summoned specifically to Cologne to participate in taharrush gamea, a sort of mob sexual harassment previously only seen in Egypt.

 Almost as horrifying as the attacks on women was the institutional denial. A country that is seeing the arrival of 3,200 asylum seekers every day was clearly anxious not to alarm the natives. Apologising for its decision not to report the story for three unconscionable days, TV channel ZDF (Germany’s BBC) explained: “We don’t want to spread a bad mood.” Cologne police admitted they were under specific instruction from on high not to report if a crime was committed by new arrivals.

Angela Merkel, meanwhile, has just rejected a proposal to cap admissions (which topped one million in 2015) at 200,000 in 2016, even though the German Chancellor admitted on Monday that Europe had lost control of the refugee crisis. “All of a sudden, we are facing the challenge that refugees are coming to Europe and we are vulnerable, as we see, because we do not yet have the control that we would like to have,” she told business leaders.

“A European Union which loses control of immigration, which jeopardises its own precious, civilised values, then lies about it because it doesn’t want to “spread a bad mood”, doesn’t deserve my support”

A huge proportion are teenage and twentysomething men, which has serious implications for the social order. As Valerie Hudson points out in a recent essay for Politico, societies with skewed sex ratios tend to be unstable, and many of these youths from Afghanistan and Syria don’t understand that sticking your hand up a woman’s skirt is unacceptable behaviour.

How on earth do you begin to instruct several hundred thousand young Muslim males in liberal Western mores? Well, you don’t – not immediately, at any rate. Instead, you issue a code of conduct for German women which advises against looking “cheerful” in the street, lest this be mistaken for “sexual openness”.

police arrest men around the main train station in Cologne

Police arrest men around the main train station in Cologne  Photo: Warren Allott/The Telegraph

I promise you I am not making this up. No smiling, girls, if you don’t want to get groped. Keep your heads down and scowl.

Even writing that makes me angry. And scared. Scared for my niece who has a gap year planned in Germany. Scared that, within three years, that misogynist man-mob in Cologne will be entitled to a German passport and, thereafter, to travel freely across the EU and come to the UK. As one reader put it: “After Cologne, I would like to know who is going to be on my side if I go to a festival in the evening dressed as a western woman.”

Precisely. Who is on the side of western women? Angela Merkel’s naïve policy of Willkommenskultur has been pursued in defiance of the wishes of ordinary Europeans who like their way of life as it is – and we may soon be picking up the tab for her generosity.

So, I’m no longer weighing up the economic arguments for staying in or leaving the EU. A European Union which loses control of immigration, which jeopardises its own precious, civilised values, then lies about it because it doesn’t want to “spread a bad mood”, doesn’t deserve my support.

Labour’s Alan Johnson warns that quitting the EU could damage London’s global status – but what if staying in means taharrush gamea for female commuters at Waterloo or St Pancras? We want to offer sanctuary to the desperate while having the power to keep out those who despise our way of life.

After Cologne, the EU referendum is about nothing less than the safety and security of British women. We, the Euroclueless, need to woman up and vote for the right of our daughters and granddaughters to live as they choose and to smile in the street. No more Mrs Don’t Know – let’s get the hell out.

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