Sunday, 26 June 2016

A time for answers, not specualtion

Having taken the day off yesterday for a drive to the seaside I listened attentively to Radio 4 all day just to keep my ear to the ground. BBC Any Questions was instructive. I am no fan of Emily Thornbury but the concerns and questions she aired were entirely justified and she is right that mainstream leavers had no answers during the vote and have no answers now. I think Vote Leave have done some considerable damage having campaigned on messages they know to be false.

What was also apparent is that Ken Clarke of all people is one of the few who has a clue as to what the choices are while Steven Wolfe of Ukip and Chris Grayling are barely past first base on the details. And so there is some cause for alarm.

Ukip and the Tory right are now on the wrong side of the argument. Ukip persists in conflating freedom of movement with open borders because they are determined to end it. I believe that will be bad all round. I think it would do untold damage for no gain with very little reduction in immigration. 

Then there is Chris Grayling, who like Gove believes what we can bang up a trade agreement on tariffs and withdraw from freedom of movement with no consequence. Letting these people anywhere near Brexit negotiations would be like handing a box of razor blades to a four year old.

I am still confident that political realities will kick in sooner or later but in the meantime they will do a lot of damage making promises which cannot be upheld. It is therefore imperative that we make the case for continued membership of the single market and enlist help from anyone who campaigned to remain because this is even more important than the referendum question.

Now that the decision on membership has been made I am now closer in spirit to those who voted to remain that to leave. I still think leaving was the right thing to do by it is now incumbent on all of us to make the case for continued openness. We do not want Boris Johnson as Prime Minister and Gove would be even worse. Half a clue is more dangerous than no clue at all.

The BBC narrative was that this was a vote of immigration because it is their comfort zone. I've noticed a game going on where they goad leavers who were not connected in any way with Vote Leave to admit that Brexit probably will not have an effect on immigration - and so British voters have been "betrayed".

It's a dangerous game because it doubles down on the pressure for negotiators to try and tinker with freedom of movement. We will pay a heavy price if they do. The BBC is like an infant pulling the dog's tail to see what will happen. They are pushing a betrayal narrative because it suits their agenda, but we were not betrayed at all. We knew what we were voting for. Immigration was not on the ballot paper.

Worse still is the idle speculation about what will happen on the Irish border. At this point, the BBC really shouldn't be indulging in this. They are the BBC, they should know by now. Nor should they be repeating the Remain campaign mantras about the Norway Option. They should be by now testing those claims with a view to giving BBC audiences details instead of supposition to fill air time. They are the state broadcaster in a time of heightened alertness. It's about time they started acting like it.

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