EU referendum
This British flag flying alongside the EU flagReuters

Praise be, an end is in sight. At last. The longest, nastiest, most dismally dishonest campaign in living memory limps towards its inglorious finale. And whatever the result next week, it's already clear that this has been a rotten advertisement for our supposedly mature democracy.

Rational argument? Facts? Informed debate? Forget it. In or out, politicians resort instead to scare stories, slithery elisions and venomous insults. As the polls turn against him, a panicky and petulant David Cameron claims his opponents are "quitters" who don't love their country. He threatens pensioners with the loss of their bus passes if they don't do as they are told. Downing Street orchestrates ferocious personal attacks on Boris Johnson. Ministers openly accuse each other of black-hearted lies.

How small-minded and mean spirited our 'leaders' are proving to be. We deserve better. What's at stake after all is not only our economic future, but our idea of ourselves as a nation. And somewhere, all but drowned out by bluster and bombast, real arguments are struggling to be heard. So never mind the politicians. If we want proper, grown-up debate, we must rely on ourselves.

Here then is one contribution: 10 reasons for leaving the EU, without the snarling, name-calling, accusations of dishonesty, made up figures and hysterically apocalyptic predictions. A bit of a novelty, eh? Let's see how it goes.

1. We know now that EU reform is almost impossible. David Cameron asked for very little in his search for a new deal, yet – humiliatingly - even those modest demands were too much for Europe to contemplate.

So what happens if we vote Remain? We'll be seen as pitiful pushovers, all talk and no trousers, forever complaining about Europe but too timid to do anything about it. The British bulldog will have become a whimpering poodle. What little influence we have at the moment - and it's very little – will diminish further.

2. The Eurozone is a deepening disaster, with youth unemployment in Greece at 50%, another banking crisis looming in debt-ridden Italy, constitutional turmoil in Spain and endless miseries in Portugal. Even France is struggling. So here's a question for the Remainers: if the EU is so wonderful, how come it is the world's slowest-growing continent, apart from Antarctica? Why stay tied to such a dangerously unstable system when – sadly – it could all too easily implode?

3. Ah, say the Remainers, we need to trade with our partners. And of course they're right. But we have a deficit of over £60bn in trade with the EU. Our exports to Europe have been declining for years, meanwhile we have a trade surplus of nearly £30bn with the rest of the world, a figure steadily increasing. Moreover, the 28-member EU is useless at trade negotiations, as everybody has to agree. So there are no deals with India, China or the US, while a settlement with Australia is held up because of a row over Italian tomatoes. An independent Britain could hardly do worse.

4. According to the European Anti-fraud Office, the EU lost €670m in corruption last year - and that's actually an improvement on 2014, when €900m went missing. Meanwhile, for more than 20 years running, the European Court of Auditors has refused to give Commission accounts a clean bill of health. Abysmal.

5. Remaining means giving up all hope of control over our own borders, no matter how pressure mounts on housing, schools and the NHS. Don't imagine the net increase of 330,000 immigrants last year was an aberration. That figure will rise and keep on rising as Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia join the EU. And that's not to mention Turkey.

6. The arrogance and incompetence of Brussels promotes extremism everywhere. From Italy to Sweden, unsavoury parties prosper. A gun-toting right-winger has just come within a whisker of winning the Austrian presidency. Marine Le Pen of the National Front rides high in France. What happens if she wins power next year? Or if other countries succumb to ugly populism?

7. Brussels believes the basket-case euro can only be saved by a heavy dose of more Europe. The Five Presidents' Report (yes, the EU has no fewer than five presidents) lays out a plan for deeper integration that must have huge implication for Britain, even though we're outside the eurozone.

8. The EU is not only profoundly undemocratic, but increasingly guilty of dictatorial bullying. In 2011, it got rid of elected prime ministers in Greece and Italy, installing unelected apparatchiks in their place. Ireland was made to hold a second referendum after it rejected the Treaty of Nice. And remember when France and Holland held referendums on the proposed European constitution? In both countries, voters said no, so eurocrats simply gave the constitution a new name – the Treaty of Lisbon – and shoehorned it through anyway.

9. The European Court, which gained sweeping new powers under that same Lisbon Treaty now impudently claims the right to override British law on just about everything, from immigration to military matters. It even prevents us from deporting terrorists and violent criminals. And though our own Supreme Court tries to resist this judicial imperialism, it has so far been unable to protect British interests against perverse decisions made by judges in Strasbourg.

10. Finally, the uncertainty factor. So far, Mr Cameron's Project Fear has harped on the risks of leaving, while conspicuously failing to mention the risks in remaining. But Europe is changing, and not for the better. With the euro ruining millions of lives, extremism growing, a possibility of civil unrest, a migration crisis, a rogue European Court and a sorry lack of accountability what will the EU look like in 20 or 30 years? Will it survive at all?

Nobody knows. Nobody can know. But I rather suspect that future generations will find it absolutely astonishing that so many of our politicians could seriously argue that Britain would be a better place if it threw away the freedom to decide its own destiny.