Rory Broomfield is the director of Better Off Out, a cross-party campaign group that works to take Britain out of the European Union. He was was appointed director of the campaign in 2013, and is also Director of The Freedom Association. He is the author of Membership of the EU: There Are Alternatives, The EU’s Effect on the UK’s Place in the World and The Future’s Bright – The Future’s Global.
For over 40 years, Britain has a part of the European Union. In that time Britain’s status as an independent nation state has been ebbing away piece by piece. Now, after decades of deeper integration, the EU dominates this country.
Advocates of British independence have been caricatured by europhiles as xenophobes, cranks and above all, cynics. For those of us with a positive outlook who support secession from the EU based on a sense of optimism, this really sticks in the craw.
It’s the europhiles that assert that Britain is too small and insignificant to survive outside of the continental empire. So, a thousand years of independence – that facilitated the nurturing of a distinct culture, a special kind of liberty and a prosperous nation – is consigned to the past, apparently pined after only by those of us lost in nostalgia.
This attitude denies our great country’s many strengths and ignores how it is weakened by the constraints and indignities of being a province. It is imperative that the positive case for independence is made, and for the last nine years – through times when being subsumed into the EU was a given, and sceptics were totally sidelined – the Better Off Out campaign has been making that positive case.
I first met Rory Broomfield at the 2014 Ukip conference, which I was writing about for Libertarian Home. What struck me about him was his bright and cheerful manner, and upbeat attitude. He is not how europhiles like to define sceptics, and exactly the kind of man we need as a prominent spokesman for secession.
As a long-time campaigner for Brexit, the upcoming EU referendum is something his personal and professional life has been leading up to for quite some time. Now that it is finally happening, I had to ask him how it felt!
‘Excited! Though there is still a lot to do. There are a number of challenges still ahead, mainly concerning engagement. We need to ensure that as many people as possible are informed and actively supporting the UK leaving the EU when it comes to the vote.’
With the referendum within the next two years, Brexit has become a tangible possibility. This has led some advocates of independence to propose a “Brexit strategy”. The Bruges Group endorses joining the European Free Trade Association, as do I, in addition to joining the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement. The Better Off Out campaign however, focuses on the specific reasons why we should secede.
‘The Better Off Out campaign concentrates on explaining why the British people are better off out. There are plenty of plans and arrangements that people could look into but the core fact is that outside the European Union the people of this country would be free be decide their future for themselves. That’s a pretty good plan in itself.’
Ukip have focussed on immigration as a means of raising awareness, and resentment, of the European Union, and this has been very effective to an extent. Though this has the downside of becoming a preoccupation that mires the argument for secession in negativity, and alienates much of the population.
That’s why the Better Off Out campaign concentrates on the positive reasons for a different future. Every one of the campaign’s ‘top 10 reasons we are BETTER OFF OUT’ contains the word “freedom”. Free trade, a free legal system, a free economy and freedom to conserve what makes our culture distinct!
Sometimes it comes down to a simple principle. ‘I’ve always been a fan of the idea that the British people would be free to make their own decisions’, Rory told me, in an opinion that really shouldn’t have been as politically unfashionable as it was for so long. The official “no” campaign has a lot to learn from Better Off Out, it needs to be ‘positive, informative and engaging’ if it is to be successful according to Rory.
Europhiles are already rubbing their hands together at the prospect of a ‘yes’ vote, imagining and hoping that sceptics will be cowed, defeated and muted. They hope the Tory right will be silenced for good, Ukip will cease to exist and the campaigns will die off. In the event of a vote to stay in, what of the Better Off Out campaign?
‘In that scenario, I think the positive case for the UK leaving the EU would still need to be made. If the UK stays in the EU there will be a whole range of powers that future governments will surrender and there needs to be a credible campaign group that is able to show the British people what this will mean and that there is a better alternative.’
Rory himself is dedicated to the cause and has his eyes on the prize, as for life after the vote, that doesn’t factor into his thinking right now. ‘I’m focused on winning the referendum. Life after that can wait’, he tells me. As determined he and his fellow campaigners are, they need all the support they can get.
We at Conservatives For Liberty support British independence, and urge our members and supporters to actively do the same. To conclude our interview, I ask him what our readers can do if they want to get involved in their campaign:
‘They would be welcome! We know that a referendum is coming and that it is one of the most important decisions that voters will make in their lifetimes. We have recruited a brilliant Campaign Manager, Rupert Matthews, and are looking to take on more short-term and part time staff. These will assist us in engaging people across the UK and explaining why they will benefit from being outside the EU.
If your supporters think that the UK can make its own laws, and that its citizens should make decisions for themselves, they can sign up to the campaign through our website, http://www.betteroffout.net/get-involved/sign-up/. We are launching a range of regional networks in early September but, if they can’t wait to get involved, Better Off Out campaign leaflets are being distributed throughout the country this month in order to increase awareness and keep the issue of the EU in people’s minds. If people want to get involved with that, please do ask! You can send an email to either myself or Rupert Matthews at email@example.com‘
Find Rory on Twitter: @rorybroomfield
This article is part of a series discussing the European Union. Read more: