By rights, this should have been the time when those who spent the past few years campaigning against the European Union's economic follies were enjoying the bittersweet smell of political vindication.
Greek and Spanish youth unemployment has reached an almost criminal 57pc, capital is pouring out of socialist France and nobody believes Europe to be the future anymore.
Instead, the past few weeks have been the worst for mainstream Eurosceptics in years. Their inability to launch a proper campaign, and to organise and galvanise the silent majority of sceptical business people, has allowed the pro-EU forces to launch a brilliant rearguard action.
As a result, it now seems that the absence of a concerted, respectable Eurosceptic business voice has allowed David Cameron to settle on a watered-down, underwhelming set of principles for his hugely important speech on Friday, satisfying nobody. A historic opportunity to identify a new vision for Britain as a Singapore or Hong Kong of Europe, trading with the continent but not governed by it, and for Cameron to stave off the rise of Ukip, has almost certainly been incompetently and disastrously squandered.
Instead of recasting Britain's foreign policy for the reality of a global, multi-polar 21st century where emerging markets will make all of the running, it looks like we will merely be getting meaningless declarations of intent. Eurosceptics have only themselves to blame. Flush with the success of having finally been proved right over the euro, after years of being depicted as half-wits, they allowed themselves to rest on their laurels. What was left of their energy was spent arguing among themselves about what exact slimmed-down relationship they wanted with Brussels.
At times, talking to them felt like walking into a remake of Monty Python's Life of Brian , with supporters of the People's Front of Judea variant of euroscepticism bitterly condemning the traitors of the Judean People's Front. The real truth is that none of this really matters: we need less EU, not more, and a plan of action to get us there.
Ten and Eleven Downing Street listen to business, especially large multinationals; but tragically they have only been exposed to one side of the argument in recent weeks. It is excellent news that a handful of business people, including Lord Wolfson, boss of Next (Other OTC: NXGPF - news) , Jon Moulton, the venture capitalist, and Luke Johnson, the entrepreneur, have now gone on the record in supporting a looser relationship with the EU. But even though they are being joined by City grandees, such as Lord Vinson and Daniel Hodson, they remain isolated when pitted against the professionally organised pro-EU campaign, which has signed a far larger number of big names, including Sir Richard Branson, the rock star of British business.
The true scale of scepticism in the business community has thus so far not become apparent and the momentum that had been building behind Eurosceptic arguments since the eurozone crisis has been shattered.
This is not 1995 or even 2005. There are more sceptical business people than there have ever been, including very senior captains of industry, City bigwigs and also tens of thousands of smaller business folk desperate for change. One unlikely FTSE 100 CEO, who sadly doesn't want to be named, recently told me how he despaired of the EU's regulatory suicide.
All of these would make mincemeat of the lazy claims of the likes of Nick Clegg that merely discussing a referendum will chill the economy, or that 3m jobs are at risk, the exact same lie we used to hear when the UK was deciding whether to keep sterling. Of course the UK could survive and thrive outside of the EU, with the right domestic policies and within the World Trade Organisation; and of course the best solution would be a much looser relationship, where the UK and EU retained the free movement of goods, services, capital and people.
But at the moment most of these senior folk in business are reluctant to speak out without the backing of a mainstream, respectable campaign group; they are too busy or reluctant to engage in politics.
So it is great news that, as revealed by my colleague Benedict Brogan, perhaps belatedly, Lord Leach, one of the men who did the most to keep the UK out of the euro, is canvassing some of his old allies to set up such a group, with the blessing of the Treasury. It is vital that a proper cross-party, decently resourced Eurosceptic campaign be launched at the earliest opportunity.
One important component of such a campaign will have to be a business wing, aimed at neutralising the loud, Eurocentric minority. The ideal model would be a fusion of Business for Sterling, the brilliant campaign group at the core of the No to the euro campaign in the 2000s and the No to AV campaign, which spectacularly trashed the establishment push to change the voting system in 2011. The people who ran those campaigns so superbly need to be hired for this new one.
Their new organisation will have to commission cost-benefit analyses of EU membership and expose the links between those who backed the euro membership of which would have destroyed the UK, forced an IMF bailout and turned us into another Ireland (OTC BB: IRLD - news) , albeit of unmanageable proportions and those who now reject change to our EU membership.
This campaign will require focus groups and multimedia advertising. It is true Eurocentric sentiment remains more prevalent (though by no means the only view anymore) among financiers than in most other quarters. London needs global investment banks; but they were the ones telling us we would be toast if we didn't join the euro and that City workers would have to learn German and move to Frankfurt. Many of these firms especially European ones would have to be bailed out if the Eurozone crisis were to worsen again, or have already had to take taxpayer cash. Their jobs and tax receipt are good for the UK; but their political advice entirely lacks credibility.
The new campaign needs to expose the flaw in the worldview of many big firms, especially those that spend too much time in Davos or employ too many lobbyists in Brussels or Washington. Their embrace of undemocratic, technocratic transnational corporatism is shocking. The truth is that they are great at selling their products but don't know what is best for jobs and prosperity over the long-run.
The voice of sensible businesses is just one of the many that will need to be marshalled in the looming European battle. But it will be vitally important: even though there is now a deep distrust of business and finance as a result of the crisis, the public needs to understand that most firms in the UK actually want less, not more, EU.
It is those who remain unthinkingly in love with the EU's ridiculous regulations that are destroying jobs in Britain, not those who want to set the UK free.
Allister Heath is editor of City AM