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EU Referendum

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 e

  • Former key adviser to David Cameron defies him a month before the vote 
  • Says Britain is ‘ungovernable’ after being ‘corruptly captured’ by the EU
  • Believes EU will take revenge on Britain for vote and impose new diktats
  • Said their refusal to grant ‘modest’ demands shows no will for reform

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.

David Cameron says Turkey joining EU not remotely on the cards


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.

‘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 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

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.’

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

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

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

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

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)

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 Coulsdon 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) Mr Hilton 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) Mr Hilton 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 Coulsdon) 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 

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.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3603793/Why-quit-EU-Cameron-s-guru-Friend-strategist-Steve-Hilton-breaks-ranks-Brexit-say-Britain-literally-ungovernable-unless-power-self-serving-elite.html

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