Friday, May 29, 2015

Leaving is a process

The talks about talks are progressing:

For those who think, like me, that the United Kingdom must leave the European Union it is important to bear three key aspects in mind:

First, that it might have to be a two-referendum process.  It would be a mistake to imitate the idiotic SNP and bang on about "once in a lifetime" and "settled for a generation".  Leaving is a process.  Yes, I hope the vote goes our way at the first attempt, but if it does this will be a happy bonus - probably we are going to need more than one go at this.  In the meantime our objective should be to gain on the referendum day a credible OUT vote (45% or above) and in the campaign leading up to referendum day to put forward a memorable range of arguments that will stay in the minds of voters so that when the next EU crisis comes along the argument for walking away becomes irresistible.  Especially we need to establish the key principle that British membership of the EU must be based on on-going consent validated by regular "are you still happy with your membership" referenda (ideally every ten  years, but we may need to be flexible with this).

Secondly, realise that David Cameron is our friend.  He is hemmed in and constrained, and his room for manoeuvre is not great.  The British establishment, the European establishment, the international establishment (ie the American government) are all on his back.  But already he has done wonderful things for us.  So please let us give him support and recognition, even if it falls short of the requirements we regard as essential.  David Cameron was taught history at Eton - he knows that British policy should always be to resist power blocs emerging on the continent of Europe.

Thirdly, the referendum will be won on ideas.  We need to challenge the EU to justify its existence (for instance, what is the intellectual argument for free movement; why is economic harmonisation preferred over economic diversity; how can the EU remain silent over persecution of Roma in Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria etc).  We also need to develop alternatives to the EU in every area of its operations so that the future is one of genuine metanoia - a change of heart that brings hope and healing to all of the British people.

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