Nobody thinks that Britain can leave the EU without the Leave campaign presenting referendum voters with a credible Brexit plan; the fear, uncertainty and doubt of the Remain campaign, which centres on the equally fanciful notion that international trade and co-operation would end post-Brexit, quite simply has to be addressed.
Voters will expect the plan to demonstrate that Leavers have considered the various Leave options and taken account of the political realities that will constrain the actuality post-vote. Voters will also expect the plan to put forward a vision for Britain as a self-governing country with independent representation at the world’s top tables.
The constant jibes from the Remain camp asking, “What does Out look like then? Eh? Eh?”, although overly shrill, are entirely justified. The promotion of a credible Brexit plan would have the happy consequence of avoiding all of the arcane discussion about trade ratios, regulation and economic risk while also rendering such silly anti-Brexit scaremongering obsolete.
Rejoining EFTA to participate in the EEA agreement—the totemic Single Market—reassures investors that regulatory continuity and indeed regulatory convergence would continue past the point of Brexit.
Business need have no role in the referendum debate once that point is acknowledged. How and by whom Britain is governed is a matter for the British people to decide; it is no business of business.
The question that would then need to be addressed would change from, “How will Brexit impact the economy?”, to, “Who governs Britain?”
A Point of Principal
Spending and policy priorities should be determined by democratic governments that are accountable to national electorates rather than being set by supranational institutions that are accountable only to the national governments that agreed the original treaty framework.
That argument is one that can deliver a resounding victory for the Brexiteers, so why then are all of the big Leave campaigns, Vote Leave, Leave.EU and GO, still promoting arguments and perspectives that are incidental to the Brexit debate?
I suppose that I should not be overly surprised at this stage, but I am genuinely shocked by the contents of this ghastly press release from Conservatives for Britain.
Titled, “The UK Must Take Back Control Of Our Money, Our Borders And Making Our Own Laws”, the blog post, which is also referred to as the ‘Conservatives for Britain Brexit Manifesto’—prompting the question, “Where is the rest of it?”—evinces a faulty and extremely shallow understanding of the vast regulatory bureaucracies in which nations, corporates, NGOs, super-regulators and other stakeholders negotiate and agree to adopt international standards.
The press release also trots out all of the same tired old eurosceptic memes that have failed to engage the British electorate over the last 20+ years.
On the vexed subject of immigration, I am among the majority of people who think that the number of people settling in the country is too high and that the British government should pursue policies to reduce the inflow to a more reasonable level. However, it is also evident that concerns about freedom of movement within the EEA are overblown and that many of the policy failures—migrants living 10 to a room, for instance—stem from failures of enforcement and an absence of political will at the local and national level.
There is no “big bang” solution to the mess that successive governments have made of Britain’s immigration policy, the kinds of reforms that could make a difference are on the order of “marginal gains”, although cumulatively the result could be significant.
In the context of Britain’s endless “immigration debate”, the EU is a handy way for ineffectual British politicians and policy-makers to hide from the British electorate. This is an insult. But pandering to the idea that leaving the EU could or would solve the problem in one fell swoop is just as foolish.
Probably the most ridiculous assertion in the CfB document is that, “We have no intention of being like Norway. The UK need not make any contributions to the EU after leaving.” This is almost too depressing to go into yet again, but just in case there is anybody reading this who is new to the blog, nobody has ever said that Britain should be “like” Norway. Britain should be like Britain. That being said, the safest Brexit option is to participate in the EFTA/EEA agreement on the same terms as countries such as Norway and Iceland in order to overcome the challenge of agreeing a new trade deal with the rest of the EU during the two-year period of an Article 50 exit negotiation.
Few people, even at the height of government, if the MPs who speak on behalf of the Tory Party, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats are to be believed, have any idea of the extent of the political integration that has occurred over the past 40 years. Vast areas of policy are either directly administered at a supranational EU level or only exist within an EU policy framework.
There are so many areas other than trade that will need to be addressed in the event of Brexit that British civil servants will undoubtedly seek the path of least resistance in terms of regulatory continuity and mutual recognition.
Then again, honesty and integrity always was rather a lot to ask of the Tory Party. After 40 years of The Great Deception, the leopard cannot change its spots. The designated Leave campaign following the political parties down the same path will not win Brexiteers the wider support that we need.
The Leaver truth opposed to the Remainer deception is one of the most powerful cards that we have to play. The politicians, who would like to own the Brexit campaign, would rather put that card back in the deck.
Where are the serious Leavers?