Wednesday 26 August 2015

What is Matthew Elliot smoking?

The Know is is turning out to be as bad as we thought it would be. There is no strategy behind their message. They mistake output for productivity. This is precisely want we don't want. Scattergun EUphobic nonsense from any source, including the Daily Express, and bent banana stories is a real headache for our side.

But illustrated hereabove is just the pinnacle of the eurosceptic stupidity ouroboros. Since both The Know and Matthew Elliot's Business for Britain are both bidding to become the official No campaign, it's amusing to see that the chimpanzee running The Know's Twitter account is retweeting the director of the rival house. But that's by the by.

For an organisation affiliated with Ukip, this low grade toss is to be expected, but we thought Matthew Elliot would have to work especially hard to go any lower in our estimations as a preening, egotistical know-nothing prat. Yet here he is effortlessly surpassing all expectations by a country mile.

We've spoken before about the perils of nihilism in this campaign. As we have outlined many times, the EU is not the single market, and in order to sell Brexit we will need to reassure business that we will retain access to it. That means we will make a budget contrition in or out of the EU. The reason being that business values the single market even if Mr Elliot does not. A trade area with regulatory convergence and no tariffs is never a bad thing. You don't need to dig into the ONS for trade statistics to know that our contribution is a fraction of what the trade is worth to us. It's the political integration we don't want.

Through his awesome stupidity Elliot assumes that Brexit necessarily means no contributions to the EU budget. It doesn't.

There are other logical inconsistencies here. One recurring argument the leave campaign makes is that Brexit leads to the disintegration of academic co-operation. We know this isn't true because Norway etc are participants in Erasmus and Horizon 2020. Elliot's own BfB magnum opus makes that precise argument. But that does not come without making some contribution to the EU budget either. Similarly we are promising no disruption to trade by way of single market access. Be it the Norway option or the Swiss option, we still end up participating in EU programmes, and we still are still involved in the creation of single market rules - which is not an inexpensive activity.

Additionally, there will be many areas of administrative and technical cooperation which all parties will want to continue. Some of the more high profile ones include Europol and Eurocontrol, the latter taking in the development of the Single European Sky.

There is also the question of continued membership of intergovernmental bodies such as the European Space Agency, and whether the UK will want to run with projects such as the Galileo global positioning system, in which it has a heavy financial investment. The UK may also want to participate in interregional programmes under the EU's Regional Policy and take part in the activities of EU agencies.

More than this, as members we have made future commitments and we have signed contracts and leases going into well beyond 2025. We have yet to define the terms of withdrawal, but there is no possibility of it being free of cost - and we have yet to decide the programmes in which we will continue participation.

Elliot also keeps making fantastical claims as to what we could spend our EU budget contributions on. Both Elliot and The Know think we can spend it on schools and hospitals and Business for Britain asserts that the cost of Britain’s membership could provide every UK household with an extra £933 a year. This is absurd.

In short, we cannot on the one hand be making reassurances of continuity of market access and at the same time say we're going to spend the money in other ways. Do we expect all future co-operation to come for free? That is the subtext of our message presently. If we want to win we are going to need grown up and rational arguments and if our side lacks economic credibility then there is no chance of leaving the EU.

It's not about cost either. If Brexit turned out to be a bit more expensive or the about same, would we still want to leave? Of course we would, because it's not wholly an economic argument. It's about our place in the world and it's about democracy. If it's about the price of bread then we might as well pack up now. It's not a credible argument and in reality we can't say how much it would save. Moreover, some of our contributions are worth the money and not everything about the EU is bad. Blind and irrational loathing of the EU gets us nowhere. It's time to get a grip. Now.

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