If the now established EU Referendum communication pattern of competing claims and counterclaims continues, then Vote Leave will lose the referendum on 23 June.
In an environment of chaos and uncertainty, undecided voters are likely to lack the courage to vote for fundamental change – and it appears that the Remain campaign is well aware of this. The latest HM Treasury report this week that simply omitted the best case scenario for a Brexit is yet another example of the Remain campaign’s basic approach – tell the electorate loudly enough and often enough that a vote to leave will hit their wallets and they will accept it as true. The fact that the Treasury’s assumptions in its modelling are highly questionable simply gets lost in the noise and the confusion.
To win this referendum, Vote Leave has to make the economic case for Brexit. Its economic message so far has been fragmented, unfocussed and delivered by the wrong people at the wrong time. The proposition that there will be an economic shock following a vote to leave is becoming an established truth, even though there is scant evidence to support the proposition.
Vote Leave’s slogan, “If you want to save the NHS – Vote Leave” is weak. It is weak because it is not true, it doesn’t address the economic case that Remain has made and public services are not the main issue of concern for voters. In producing this slogan, Vote Leave seems to have forgotten that the Labour Party has just lost a General Election after focusing on the NHS in the face of a Conservative Party onslaught on economic competence and issues of governance.
Vote Leave has about a week to sort its economic message out. If it applies its mind to the problem, it will discover that the Remain campaign is vulnerable on the economic question because its message has already been partially discounted – though not rejected – by voters. Rather than ramping up the rhetoric about the NHS, Vote Leave needs to challenge the basic assumptions that staying in the EU with its malfunctioning Eurozone and uncompetitive single market is the risk free option.
It is long past time for Vote Leave to get its economic heavy-weights into the ring to challenge this basic assumption.