Thursday, 12 May 2016

Brexit notes

A safe departure

The government wants you to believe that Britain’s departure from the EU causes economic chaos. This is a lie. The government knows that we cannot unpick forty years of integration overnight. We will use a transitional agreement and leave the same way we went in. Gradually.

The official campaigns exaggerate and treat you like children. The truth is that Brexit is a process, not an event. The political realities will force the Government to use an off the shelf solution to ensure continuity of the single market. There is no other practical option in the time available. That means little or no immediate change for business. The scares are unjustifiable.

An amicable deal

The Eurozone economy is not in great shape. Anything that could cast doubt on Eurozone recovery is something the EU would seek to avoid. That is why we can expect a rational and careful negotiation.

The EU won’t be in a rush to make special concessions or everyone will want to leave. But Britain as a major economy has leverage and the EU will be mindful that it must do business with us in the future. We won’t get everything we want and we will make compromises but we will get a deal that minimises risks for both sides. Nobody can afford any drama.

What we get won’t be ideal – but it will be a good start. Brexit is only the beginning. We cannot expect huge changes to regulation inside a decade, we won’t be saving money to invest in the NHS and we won’t be closing down freedom of movement. Hard liners will be disappointed but it marks the first stage in the process. Leaving the EU.

A long road

The EU is far more than just a trade bloc. It is a government. Over the years we have dismantled our capacity for self- government and handed vital functions of government to Brussels. We will have to take our time to rebuild and evolve our way out.

We may decide to keep some EU cooperation programmes and continue paying for them. Brexit is not about ending EU cooperation. It’s about having control over our own policies.

As we evolve out of the EU we will draw down our EU commitments. As we take back control we will develop new ministries and departments resulting in the biggest shake up of Whitehall since the war. We will take back responsibility for our trade and aid policy and participate fully on global forums for trade and regulation - without EU supervision and control.

We will then push for democratisation of the global bodies that make the rules.

Our new settlement will require that we change our approach to domestic governance and initiate democratic reforms, returning powers to local authorities – making greater use of referendums.

A rebirth of democracy

Brexit is not about cutting ourselves off from Europe. Leaving the EU is not about immigration, trade or economics. It’s a recognition that we do not need to be a subordinate of a supreme government for Europe. We can do just as well without it.

The world has changed since the EU was created. They laws we live by are designed for a pre-internet world. The rules of trade are no longer made by Brussels. They are made by major international regulatory bodies. We don’t have our own vote or a veto in any of this. This is why we need to leave the EU. Too much is decided before MEPs even get to look at the rules – and they don’t know what they are voting for.

We need proper scrutiny of the laws we adopt and we can only do that if we are independent of the EU. It’s not about making our own laws. To make global trade work we will need global rules. But it should be us who have the final say.

Leaving the EU means our own government is free to innovate without the constraints imposed on us by the EU. It will mean that the buck stops with ministers and when we cast our vote at general elections our votes will actually matter for a change.

All of us know that something big needs to change. Brexit is the catalyst.

Best of both worlds

Trade is no longer about tariffs. It’s more important to remove red tape and things that cause delays. The EU has improved things inside Europe but it makes impossible barriers to the rest of the world. Britain can remain part of the European single market by joining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). That means we have all the trade advantages of the EU but fewer restrictions. We can pick and choose who we do deals with and which other alliances we join.

We may still cooperate with the EU and it’s only fair that we chip in where we have common interests but leaving the EU means we get to decide what those common interests are. Free of the EU we can open up our markets to the rest of the world and create many new export opportunities.


Nobody is proposing we close the borders. We will probably keep freedom of movement. Immigration is a complex subject and we cannot reduce it to simply blaming freedom of movement. Taking drastic measures won’t fix the underlying problems. One thing is for certain though. Nothing will change if we stay in the EU.

Much of the reason we see bodies washing ashore is down to obsolete international conventions encoded into EU law. Because the EU cannot reach agreement, there is no chance of it initiating reform. Britain can show leadership by seeking reform at the global level.

We won’t do ourselves any favours by making border controls tighter, passing on costs to business and landlords. But what we can do is reduce the need to come to the UK by having an independent trade and aid policy. Too much of what the EU does is corrupt and unaccountable. Britain can help develop emerging economies and can mediate in conflict resolution. That has always been the best way to reduce immigration and we won’t fix much by building walls. It’s cheaper to fix the problems at source.

Time for real change 

We have been stuck in a political stalemate for forty years and now the cracks are starting to show. Everybody realises something is wrong and that we need change but government can never reform itself. We will have to push them into it. Only a vote to leave will do that. If you vote to remain everything will stay as it is and your votes won’t matter. Brexit is our one chance to break with the failed ideas of the last century. It is a chance for meaningful change and a chance for real democracy.

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