How 1997 book forecast Brexit is inevitable – if not this time, then next.

It’s almost 20 years since William Rees-Mogg and James Dale Davidson produced their seminal work, The Sovereign Individual. Mega-shifts so clearly articulated in the book continue to gather momentum. Like many “big ideas” – think the Internet, theory of Disruption, spread of modern day Democracy – they tend to catch on more slowly than expected, but longer-term changes are often more dramatic than even protagonists anticipated. The UK vote on membership of the European Union is an important milestone in the process. Polls have the vote too close to call. The “Remain” camp is being driven by economics ridiculing their opponents; “Leave” protagonists want a return of absolute British sovereignty and greater control over immigration. The result will tell us much about how far the thesis raised by Rees-Mogg and Davidson has progressed. They argued technology began a process of global downsizing including the deconstruction of the massive overheads of government and business, as they put it, “melting in the spring sunshine of individual empowerment.” They likened this to what happened to the once all powerful Roman Catholic Church from the late 1400s as Europe’s famed Renaissance caught hold. Not for the first time, the impact of the Internet is being likened to the invention of Gutenberg’s Press. Those calling for Brexit might not win this time as the emotional pull of retaining the status quo (and jobs) is powerful. But given the trend so brilliantly articulated by Rees-Mogg and Davidson it shouldn’t surprise anyone where government and big business stands. Or, that no matter what happens this time around, as with Scottish Independence, in the long-term Brexit is inevitable. – Alec Hogg    

By Alex Morales and Emma Charlton

(Bloomberg) — Campaigners to get Britain out of the European Union have moved into the lead, according to a YouGov poll that increases the pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron with less than three weeks until the referendum.

The poll for ITV’s Good Morning Britain program on Monday puts ‘Leave’ voters at 45 percent, and ‘Remain’ at 41 percent, with 11 percent undecided, according to an e-mailed statement. Similar surveys in May and April showed the ‘Remain’ camp leading. The poll comes on the back of others showing Brexit campaigners narrowing the gap or even leapfrogging ‘Remain’ in the debate to sway voters ahead of the June 23 vote.

Former mayor of London Boris Johnson is seen speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show in this photograph received via the BBC in London, Britain June 5, 2016. Jeff Overs/BBC/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Former mayor of London Boris Johnson is seen speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show in this photograph received via the BBC in London, Britain June 5, 2016. Jeff Overs/BBC

Cameron hit back Monday with a joint letter signed by senior figures from other political parties accusing the Leave campaign of perpetrating an “economic con-trick” on the public. That warning came a day after former Prime Minister John Major took to the airwaves to condemn the “squalid” Brexit campaign and dismissed its most prominent supporter, former London Mayor Boris Johnson, as a “court jester.”

Major Interview

Those advocating an exit have begun “to feed out to the British people a whole galaxy of inaccurate and frankly untrue information,” Major said in an interview on BBC television’s “Andrew Marr Show,” “On the subject that they’ve veered towards, having lost the economic argument, of immigration, I think their campaign is verging on the squalid.”

Read also: Gideon Rachman: Elites wrong. Brexit is real. UK fast heading for EU exit.

In other developments in the referendum debate:

Labour’s Hilary Benn and Angela Eagle warned a vote to leave would put workers’ rights at risk Conservative Defense Minister Julian Brazier said the EU undermines national security and the ability to keep U.K. citizens safe Seven senior former police chiefs united to say Britain will be safer in the EU and leaving would “put us at a disadvantage in tackling terrorism and organised crime”With just under three weeks to go until Britons vote, both sides are intensifying their rhetoric, with the ‘Remain’ campaign focusing on the economic dangers of a Brexit, and the ‘Leave’ campaign stoking fears of uncontrolled immigration.

Net Immigration

“If we control the number of people who come here, that means that we can get popular consent and support for migration,” Justice Secretary Michael Gove, who is pro-Brexit, said in an interview on ITV television’s “Peston on Sunday.” He said the plan would be to bring net immigration down to tens of thousands “in due course.”

Gove and Johnson have spent the past two weeks laying out policies they’d pursue after a vote to leave the EU, including scrapping taxes on gas and electricity and introducing a points-based immigration system, while denying they’re setting out an alternative program for government.

The ever-tighter polls raise the prospect of a leadership election for the Tories after the referendum, with more than 100 lawmakers opposing the prime minister’s advocacy of EU membership. ITV’s poll on Monday was based on a June 1-3 survey of 3,405 people.

“I think that David Cameron is the right person to be our prime minister and I want him to carry on being our prime minister,” Gove said. Speaking on the “Andrew Marr Show,” Johnson echoed that sentiment and described Cameron as “the best man for the job.”

The former London mayor also said the U.K. wouldn’t be part of the single market if it voted to leave, and that the nation could take back control of its laws and borders. He said the central claim by the ‘Leave’ campaign that Britain sends 350 million pounds ($508 million) a week to Brussels is credible, even though it’s been widely criticized.

Read also: Boris Johnson hits Pound, joins Brexit so Britons can “take back control”

“Most people would say, and they would be absolutely right, that we had lost control of that 350 million,” Johnson said. “There is something worryingly undemocratic about the EU as it is currently set up.”

Treasury Figures

Johnson, Gove and pro-Brexit Labour party lawmaker Gisela Stuart on Sunday wrote to Cameron about the dangers of continued EU membership, slamming “bogus” Treasury figures on the impacts of a Brexit, and saying the public cannot trust the government.

Leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) Nigel Farage speaks at pro Brexit event in London, Britain June 3, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) Nigel Farage speaks at pro Brexit event in London, Britain June 3, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall

The letter, and Major’s attack, amplify the perception of division among Cameron’s Conservatives, and both Gove and Johnson are now touted as favorites to succeed him as leader and prime minister.

Johnson is “a very engaging and charming court jester,” Major said. “I would offer him this piece of advice: if the ‘Leave’ campaign led by Boris continue to divide the Conservative Party as they are doing at the present time, and if Boris has the laudable ambition, for it is a laudable ambition, to become Prime Minister, he will find if he achieves that that he will not have the loyalty of the party he divided.”

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