Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The extremists on both sides lose if you vote to leave

I don't think I have met anyone who does not think the official campaigns have been woeful. The Leave campaign has been obstinate, fact free, disorganised and in recent weeks has degenerated to being Ukip on steroids. The Remain campaign has been devious, amoral, condescending and untruthful.

Were this an election you would abstain. But it isn't an election. And though the issues are many and complex, the question could not be clearer. Do you want Britain to be a subordinate of a supreme government for Europe?

And so this will require of you that you shut out the noise-makers, clear your thoughts of distractions and answer the question put to you.

In this, we do not want the extremists to get their own way. And there are extremists on both sides. The Leave extremists want total control, total sovereignty and an end to any relationship with the EU. Remain extremists on the other hand, would gladly give up any control, would surrender all sovereignty and would quite happily never seek public consent ever again.

We need both sides to lose. The only way to make that happen is to vote to leave. We can safely vote to leave because the zealots running Leave campaign have no powers after tomorrow. The intricacy and depth of EU integration means that they will not get their own way. There is no closing of borders, there is no rapid severance and there is no realistic scenario that sees us making all of our own laws. Not in a globalised rules based economy.

They will stamp their feet and shout with outrage, but the political realities for both sides will ensure the exit process is gradual and amicable - because nobody can afford it to be anything else.

My wonderful sister explains best the offer that will be on the table from the EU. "Like my kids choosing dinner, I give them two options, that suit me, because if I let them see what's in the fridge, they'll be arguing all day".

Quite. We will be offered a relationship on their terms, one of which is attractive, the other not so much. It will not be ideal. It will not be all that we envisaged. But it will settle the question. We will no longer be in the EU and we will be free to evolve from our soft landing.

It is not the end, it is a beginning. One that sees us closely linked with the EU but not of it. It will be a rational, moderate compromise that allows us to transition out of a long established settlement.

It gives us some of the controls we want, enough to ensure the euro-centric zealots never get their way, but not nearly enough to sate the foaming nationalists. The extremes from either side will be most disappointed.

But if we vote to remain, the question is not settled and the power remains with those extremists who neither like not trust us and will not seek our consent again. The decision making will be out of our hands. And so the only way for moderate sensible people to settle this once and for all is to vote to leave - but with no illusions as to what it will achieve, but with no sense of trepidation either.

In the end, both choices have an uncertain future with unknown risks, but the leave path will be one that will be followed with great interest and caution. The other path will leave the politicians to their own devices. I would venture the latter option presents a greater risk to prosperity, liberty and democracy. For that reason, I will vote to leave without hesitation.

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