From this day forth our energies will be directed to furthering the cause of those who believe Britain is Better Off Out.
The famous and symbolic Crusader who adorns our masthead will become the figurehead of the struggle to repatriate British sovereignty from a political project that has comprehensively failed.
After far too many years as the victims of Brussels larceny, bullying, over-regulation and all-round interference, the time has come for the British people to win back their country and restore legitimacy and accountability to their political process.
Following the debacle of the Lisbon Treaty – disgracefully imposed upon the public without the referendum they were promised by the three main political parties – many had expected matters European to take a lower profile in British politics.
It is time for Britain to leave the European Union.
But the opposite has been true as those on board the European gravy train have mounted one power grab after another.
At a time of austerity throughout Europe they have expanded their bloated budgets, pushing Britain’s disproportionate contributions even higher.
And despite not being part of the failing eurozone, British taxpayers have learned that under Brussels rules agreed to by Labour after it had lost the election they are liable to help bail out economies wrecked by the single currency.
A payment of up to £10billion for Ireland is apparently just the start, with speculators now starting to target the embattled economy of Portugal.
Despite unemployment across Europe averaging more than 10 per cent, Brussels continues to propose new job-destroying regulations and conspire to turn the whole EU into a zone of high taxation.
It is also seeking to take an ever more dominant role in border control issues, leaving its member states powerless to control migrant flows not only from other EU countries but from Asia and Africa too.
The European Court of Human Rights has continued to trample on British justice, preventing the deportation of terror suspects and demanding that convicted prisoners are given the vote.
Withdrawal from the EU should be accompanied by a withdrawal from the jurisdiction of this alien, pan-European tribunal so that matters of British justice are decided once again in British courts.
Ever since the British people were bounced into ratifying membership of the Common Market in 1975, after the political class had taken us in with no direct mandate, that institution has been stealing our rights to self-determination, remodelling itself in turn as the European Economic Community, the European Community and lately as the European Union.
Upon a wafer-thin permission for economic cooperation has been built a blueprint for the United States of Europe.
Almost nothing the EU has proposed or enacted has benefited Britain – our trawler fleet has been devastated by the Common Fisheries Policy while our taxpayers have found themselves massively subsidising inefficient French and Polish farmers under the Common Agricultural Policy.
The European Exchange Rate Mechanism – the forerunner to the single currency – caused a deep recession in Britain that was only ended by the removal of Sterling from its deadening grip.
This newspaper has always been hostile to the dilution of national sovereignty that EU membership entailed, but it has also always acknowledged that economic arguments were key. So long as there was a case to be made that leaving the EU would risk jobs and investment in Britain there was a powerful brake on thoughts of leaving altogether.
But since the ERM disaster 20 years ago that economic case has utterly collapsed.
We were told that staying out of the eurozone would be a financial disaster yet it is now clear beyond doubt that the opposite was true.Joining it would have been catastrophic, removing Britain’s ability to vary its interest and exchange rates to suit economic circumstances and plunging us into a depression. The past two decades of European integration have turned mainland Europe’s economies from some of the world’s industrial powerhouses into also-rans, stuck in the global slow lane.
Only Germany has prospered in the euro – thanks to the single currency locking its neighbours into exchange rates at which they are unable to compete.
And now the price of belonging to the EU, in terms of surrendered sovereignty, is to be further raised with countries like Ireland effectively having their public spending and borrowing decisions made by the European Central Bank in Frankfurt rather than by their electorates.
While the EU has spread economic sclerosis through its member states the two richest countries in Europe have remained outside: Norway and Switzerland have stayed as the lynch-pins of the European Free Trade Area – able to import from and export to the EU freely without being subjected to its federalist ambitions.
Were Britain to break free of Brussels there is no doubt that such a happy status would be open to us.
A s a heavy net importer from the EU we are simply too important a market for the EU nations to risk cutting their ties with us.
Taking Britain out of the EU should not be seen as a move to “Little Englandism”. On the contrary, ours is a great trading nation with markets all over the world.
The time has come to develop our neglected trading links with the new global powerhouses such as China and India.
The creation of the EU is explained by the perfectly understandable desire to avoid further conflict on a continent that had been the scene of two world wars.
But Britain is a land apart: A precious stone set in the silver sea, as Shakespeare so evocatively put it; a realm with a glorious island story stretching back a thousand years, with links to every continent and a language taken up throughout the world.
Our political class bought into the European experiment after losing confidence in our nation and accepting the inevitability of decline.
They viewed Europe as a life raft and clambered on board. The British people never took that view.
Now it is Europe that is in decline and Britain that is being held back. It is time to break free.