The American media strategist Bill Knapp, who helped Obama into office in 2008, flies over to start preparing David for TV interviews. At the end of a long day, Bill takes me aside.
‘I gotta be honest with you,’ he says. ‘You’re never going to win this one unless you have an emotional argument for Remain. And you’ve gotta have a better answer on immigration.’
Of course, Bill has zoomed in straight away on our two core problems — problems we never resolve.
It’s true our message isn’t a very emotive one. No one is pretending the EU is a perfect institution. Quite the opposite. We’ve spent years arguing for reform. Securing our special status.
Essentially, we’re stuck arguing for a marriage we’ve just taken to mediation. Saying: ‘It’s about more than just the relationship; it’s about the kids — and their kids. The house, the car, the holidays, our social life. About our lifestyle.’
But still, at the core, we’re having to mount an argument for what appears to be a soured relationship – and this is hard.
All the emotional energy is with the other side, the side that chants for liberty, freedom, a fresh start.
Immigration is a losing issue everywhere, except in the United States. But soon, it will be here too. Because the immigration = economic growth = societal wealth argument is now as observably and objectively false as the free trade = economic growth = societal prosperity argument.