For a long time I have been a reluctant “inner".
It is patently obvious that the EU is a highly dysfunctional organisation. Yet as somebody who passionately believes in free trade and the wealth this creates, I felt that it was, just about, worth it to remain. It has always seemed to me that, for example, the Nissan investment in Sunderland would never have happened had we not been a gateway to Europe.
The question for me has always been whether the billions we pay to remain a member equate to the benefit we receive. On balance I felt the trade argument won the day, although I fully accept that we buy more from the EU than we sell to it.
I also recognise that there has always been a democratic deficit in our relationship and I fully agreed with the Prime Minister’s decision to offer a referendum.
I also support his re-negotioation attempt but was very disappointed with the results. Given that our gross contribution is around £20 billion gross each year (Equivalent to £70 million for a town the size of Warrington) the reluctance of our EU partners to offer anything substantial was peculiar. One of my colleagues described it as “thin gruel” and he was right.
However, to me it would be very odd if the results of this negotiation made a real difference to voting intent.
Then there is the Boris Johnson argument – that, only by voting to leave, can we “make them pay attention” and, as a consequence, negotiate issues of substance, such as our rebate and free movement. There is some merit in this argument, however I think that, in practice, an “out” vote would mean “out” – not a re-negotiation.
Which brings us back to trade and jobs.
So, on balance, I remain a reluctant inner. But, quite frankly, the issues are very close. In the end I shall have one vote - just like everybody else. On June 23 there will be 30 million votes to count, not just the votes of 650 MPs.