Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Brexit: a fork in the road...

Readers of this blog will have seen this post from earlier in the week on how the EU removed our right of veto at the IMO and rigs the process to prevent appeal. To me, that sort of thing is a slam dunker for why we should leave the EU. It so beautifully encapsulates most of what I have ever thought about the EU - not least having seen it time and again assisting with research on

The temptation is to dive in to all the balance of competences and cherrypick the convenient nuggets for our consumption - but that goes counter to any kind of fair minded enquiry - which is, after all, what we are asking of voters. Just a cursory glance at other studies of its type show that the lines are blurred and no single individual could ever hope to understand it all. In the end it comes down to a decision on balance.

What we can see is that the value of the EU is very much in the eye of the beholder. The EU is good as some things, bad at others. To say that there is any one path of travel for EU actions would be a gross oversimplification. Given the complexity and the overlaps it is not surprising Flexcit turned into a phased withdrawal plan. There is no typical case study we can point to as a model of the legislative process.

That said, our concern is not the status quo. We could limp on with the status quo and contrary to the belief of hard-liners, there would be no big bang implosion. Just a gradual deflation under its own weight, eventually undoing much of what it has achieved. It is our view that now is the right time to thank the EU and go our separate ways - because this referendum is about the future.

It is the view of the government's own review that the future of the Single Market "will be shaped by two major developments. The first is the continued process of globalisation of the world economy and the growth of centres of economic power outside Europe and North America."
The evidence for this report showed very strongly how important it is that the Single Market should be, and remain, open to that wider world economy. The Single Market was conceived in an era when globalisation was only just beginning. During the 1980s and 1990s some Europeans argued for a “fortress Europe”, a Single Market behind high protectionist barriers, and a rival to other centres of economic strength. That argument ceased to be viable as globalisation developed, and protectionism is no longer respectable as a policy position within Europe. But constant vigilance is still needed to avoid the temptation of measures which are protectionist in effect if not in name.

The second development is the move to strengthen the architecture of the Economic and Monetary Union. As a result of the financial crisis, Euro area Member States have taken steps to reinforce both their political institutions and decision-taking apparatus, e.g. through the creation of euro summits and stronger support for the Eurogroup) and the financial, fiscal and economic rules of the single currency, e.g. the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance and the Single Supervisory Mechanism. The President of the European Council is leading a process to look at what further measures may be needed in the area of economic coordination and to ensure the ongoing democratic legitimacy of the EU. It is unclear yet how far this process will go, but the logic of monetary union points to the eventual development of closer fiscal integration, and greater financial and economic policy coordination within the euro area.

This could present risks to the Single Market, of two kinds. It could fragment, if the euro area develops into a clear political entity, deepening its cooperation such that in practice it creates a single market within a market. Or it could become dominated by euro area Member States, with the market remaining coherent, but with norms set in practice by the euro area.
That, to us, rests our case. Our case is that the single market was conceived in another age - an age before mass containerisation and mechanisation of trade - and an age before the internet and the WTO. It is an obsolete model that has not kept pace with globalisation - and likely never will.

The government's view that "constant vigilance" be required to ensure the single market does not turn in on itself is something of an understatement. We have already seen how the EU can abuse its powers to stifle our voice and remove our veto. In this there is no safeguard against the EU going in the direction the government fears.

The new globalised paradigm requires a whole new interface between nation states and the governing bodies at the top of the chain. The EU adds a layer of complexity to that which is already complex, adding further confusion and delay. As for democracy, fuhgeddaboudit!

That in itself is justification enough to leave in that a veto is our best defence. That though, addresses only the present day scenario. The second of the governments fears is no longer some hypothetical possibility in the distant future. This is spoken of openly and such a split into a two speed Europe is more than likely to be the basis of the next EU treaty - one which we believe will be sold to us as David Cameron's reform initiative. Such is the cynicism of the EU machine.

The government has it that there is a risk of "fragmentation". We would say without hesitation that this is an absolute certainty. And as little influence we have, as previously illustrated, we will see our influence further marginalised as we are pushed to the edges. The only true remedy against this is to leave or to join the Euro, which nobody wants, would be inadvisable and is not even on the table for discussion.

And so the future for Britain inside the EU is one where we have second rate influence internally, and no influence at the global level - except for our opinion when (and if) asked for it. It leaves us with no leverage and no democratic safety valve. Certainly our eight percent of the vote in the European Parliament (on measures that have largely been decided already) is insufficient to say the process is democratic.

With that in mind, we should look upon Brexit as an opportunity. It is an opportunity to embark upon a grander idea of building a global single market, reforming the interface between governments and the top tables and being the bridge to insure against the EU single market turning inward. That is the vision our campaign must sell.

The Remain campaign is presently doing its best to highlight the deep and open divisions between the respective Leave campaigns in the argument over what Brexit looks like. It should be noted that this open debate is entirely healthy. What is not healthy is the lack of debate on the Remain side. Their view is "in at any cost" - with no discussion about what remaining in looks like, largely with the intent of concealing the true direction of the EU - as it always has. They must be called out on this.

From the Remain campaign we have seen nothing but scaremongering and distortion. We have not seen them set our their vision, largely because they have none - save for reinforcing failure. That is the nature of the EU's progression. It is not another step toward a European utopia. It is a powergrab as insurance against a collapse of their vanity currency.

It is our side offering a a world of opportunity. It is we who are asking for something bigger and more dynamic. The Remain camp is asking you to bail them out yet again to preserve their last century pet project. In this they haven't even the courtesy to to put their cards on the table. Instead they put a gun to our heads and tell us that there is no possible future but their own.

It is for that reason that even if we lose this referendum, this issue is not going away. No political project of this nature, held together with string and glue, without a democratic mandate for its true agenda can survive the stresses it creates for itself. Britain simply is not compatible with the model on offer - and the EU harms only itself by denying globalisation. That is why we are going to see another referendum if the Leave side loses. Britain's exit from the EU is the only remedy and our politics will not settle down until it happens.

In that regard, we ask voters to be pragmatic. Since Brexit is going to happen, let's do it now. Let's do it while we can get a good deal. Let us stop trying to fix that which cannot be fixed and let us set upon building something that fits the world as it has evolved. The EU will not endure, but what we build in its place will last a good deal longer.

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