The Cameron/Osborne plan is as clever as it is deceitful. By playing out the string on “reform” and “renegotiation”—probably for the best part of the next two years—the Tory Party practically guarantees that the legacy hacks, which are almost entirely reliant upon “prestige” sources for their information and opinion, will centre the legacy debate (almost exclusively) on what Cameron seeks from the “renegotiation”. Can he get this? What about that? He’s not even asked for the other!
The Vote Leave group is particularly vulnerable to this “play” owing to the long history of Vote Leave Limited CEO, Matthew Elliott, inanely repeating the “reform” and “renegotiate” mantra that experienced “leave” campaigners have been hearing from Tory Party spokespersons for going on 30 of the last 40 years of Britain’s EU membership. Whether this is a case of the supine Elliott hoping for preferment within Tory Party HQ, while keeping his genuine desire for Britain to leave the EU private, or whether there is a more sinister motive for this equivocation is arguably less relevant than the fact that neither Elliott nor Lord Lawson, who leads Conservatives for Britain—both of whom accept that the British public must wait and see what “reforms” Cameron returns with from his “renegotiation” in Brussels—have any credibility when it comes to opposing Britain’s EU membership on the point of principle that subordination to a supranational entity is fundamentally unacceptable for Britain—and always will be.
As those who have been paying attention are already aware, there are no negotiations. The “negotiations” are a shell game to occupy the legacy hacks. While these frivolities keep the children entertained, the mainstream debate is just beginning to make itself heard above the din of the “high-noise” leavers and the irrelevant “remains”. How and by whom Britain should be governed and the role that Britain should play in shaping the process of economic globalisation and the emerging global single market all need to be addressed. Does anybody accept David Cameron’s vision for Britain as a third-rate country in a two-tier treaty union in which the national institutions that “represent” us as citizens remain subordinate to the European Commission, the European Council, the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice? Or do we wish for Britain to be an active participant in the global system with independent representation globally and democratic accountability running through our national government like a stick of rock?
This is the debate that Cameron and Osborne do not want the British people to have; it is a debate in which the legacy hacks have no interest; and, whatever their intentions, it is a debate from which the Vote Leave and Leave.EU campaigns have absented themselves. As Alastair Campbell said on Question Time in May, just after the Tory’s unexpected election victory—not predicted by any of the legacy pundits who we are expected to take ever so seriously—“…even having the debate is dangerous”.
Those words have been ringing in my ears ever since. “… even having the debate is dangerous…” He’s not wrong. Campbell, and his ilk—Osborne, Cameron, Clegg, Clarke, Mandelson—will do everything in their power to prevent the British people having a debate about leaving the European Union. The only option on the table in the debate that they would like to frame is “reform”—Vote Leave, Get Reform; Vote Remain, Get Reform—but the so-called “reform” that Cameron proposes is merely a form of words. Osborne, the supposed strategist who is leading the “negotiation” theatre, would just as soon the British people have a “national debate” about flower-arranging, if he thought that it would serve his purpose, but, no, that would be a little too obvious, so “reform” it is.
By contrast, having set our mind on the “leave” outcome, let us seek to explain why leaving the EU is not only better for Britain, but the opportunity of a lifetime for all of us. The political parties do not hold all of the cards. We the people have considerable power of our own and we will have the opportunity to exercise it at the ballot box. First though we must break out of the (partially self-imposed) prison that accepts the outcome of this referendum is somehow fixed either way.
The Norway (Interim) Option can assure a secure transition from EU Member State to independent nation-state which protects jobs and investment. The next question is: What happens afterwards? The Flexcit plan outlines an ambitious policy that would see Britain co-operating with the remaining EU Member States and other European nations to create a genuine free trade area in Europe, as a stepping stone to global free trade with partner countries around the world. This is the kind of proposal that only an independent Britain, with all of the ingenuity, innovation, intelligence and skill of the British people at its disposal, could play an active role in shaping.
The legacy pundits have nothing to say about any of this, so, unless or until they decide to join us, we will have to let them get on with whatever it is that they do nowadays. If you wish to participate in the mainstream debate, there is serious work to be done.