Sunday, 26 June 2016

Immigration is a secondary concern to the process of leaving

What we actually want from negotiations with the EU is the maximum level of cooperation and openness with the EU possible. Brexit was never about ending cooperation with the EU. This was about removing the subordination aspect so that we are partners and friends and not supplicants. To that end, Ukip and the Tory right are now more my enemy than ever. I do not want to see pointless and bureaucratic immigration controls introduced in order to pacify Ukipers.

I do not want to see us pointlessly setting up new institutions to produce regulations almost identical to those of the EU. I do not want to see an end to Europol and I definitely see no value in messing around with long standing areas of cooperation which work about as well as they are ever going to. So we do not seek hostilities with the EU. We will need to moderate our attitudes to it and we will need to push hard to make sure we don't close up shop to Europe.

We will need to reach a national consensus on how we go forward and with the vote being as close as it was, the wishes of remain voters must be taken into account.

As to those concerned about immigration, Efta as a starting point does give us more of a say and more flexibility and leaving the EU does give us leverage to reform the EEA agreement in the future. But the issue here is not immigration. It is about disentangling ourselves from the EU. We must treat immigration as a secondary issue and one for discussion at a later date.

If you are Ukip inclined then it is incumbent upon you to restrain yourselves and learn the difference between EEA freedom of movement and open borders. They are not one and the same. Brexit does give us some new powers but for the time being the focus is on securing a safe and amicable transition and you hobby horse will have to wait til the dust settles. By continually picking at the scab you risk endangering the whole process.

There are several approaches to dealing with immigration, but they are all comprised of multiple incremental policies that require joined up thinking. There is no silver bullet single policy and this empty mantra of "Australian based points system" is worthless rhetoric. It's expensive, it doesn't work and will probably lead to more illegal immigration with fewer immigrants paying tax. It really is time for Ukippers to grow up.

The EU is not our enemy, we have friends in Europe and they all want to see this resolved peacefully and without damaging our economies and without damaging Europe's political reputation. We should not seek to antagonise. A lot is at stake here and the world is watching. How well this works is as much to do with how we react as much as how our politicians behave.

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