It seems from latest polls that David Cameron's attempts to discourage the electorate from voting to leave the European Union may, after all, be successful. If correct, this is regrettable on three counts:
Firstly, that the population in the United Kingdom should be susceptible to a campaign of demoralisation;
Secondly, that Britain would, like all the other European states, almost certainly be much more prosperous outside the constricting and neurotic framework of the European Union; and
Thirdly that this would mean that the window of opportunity for a peaceful unravelling of the European Union will have been missed.
Of all these it is the last that is most troubling because the alternative path that it indicates is not so much unknown as rather too familiar.
Drawing our inferences from history, the EU as an administration is all but certain to fail in delivering prosperous lives to the individuals in its populations, and will become, like the government of all such multi-national aggregations before it, an agent collecting rent from the many on behalf of a distant few.
At present this Europe-wide government is only the partial realisation of an ideology, and not yet, to use Burke's pregnant term, an 'armed doctrine'. It could even now be dissolved peacefully by a simple refusal from the unsubjected populations, and a British vote to Leave would catalyse this resistance, giving courage to others in Europe and so precipitate a collapse of the European Union as an expansionist project, returning it to its roots as a region of free trade. Thus the royal blue flag with its binding ring of gold stars would fall to earth not with a bang but a whimper, the best of all possible political conclusions. A vote to Remain, on the other hand, will mean that this moment will pass, and that any resistance in the future, and there is very likely to be intense dissatisfaction within a matter of decades, will of necessity tend towards violence, for by then it will be rebellion not civil disagreement.