Wednesday 18 March 2015

Ukip are not even in the game

Former attorney general, Dominic Grieve has hit out at eurosceptics saying UK departure from EU would create more problems than it solves. In a hard-hitting attack on Eurosceptics inside and outside the Conservative party, Grieve condemned those who want to tear up the UK’s international treaty obligations and withdraw from both the EU and the European Court of Human Rights. Grieve warned departing from the EU would cause more problems than it solves.
“The requirements of any free trade agreement would make British removal from the clauses dealing with freedom of movement impossible,” he explained, “with the curious consequence that the single biggest cause of domestic irritation with the EU, immigration, would remain unaltered. But without its maintenance some 2 million UK citizens working in EU countries would find themselves becoming illegal immigrants overnight.”

“There is... a total lack of clarity as to how a government would proceed to unravel a relationship that has developed in complexity over more than 40 years. Which parts of the several thousand pieces of EU legislation that are currently incorporated into our own statute law would be retained?” 
Anybody who thought this far ahead about what shape Brexit was going to take already has good answers to these questions. Suffice to say that is not Ukip. The only official contribution it has made is in its quasi-manifesto:

  • We would review all legislation and regulations from the EU (3,600 new laws since 2010) and remove those which hamper British prosperity and competitiveness.
  • We would negotiate a bespoke trade agreement with the EU to enable our businesses to continue trading to mutual advantage.
  • UKIP would not seek to remain in the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) or European Economic Area (EEA) while those treaties maintain a principle of free movement of labour, which prevents the UK managing its own borders. 

None of this comes close to answering the the criticisms of Grieve and Ukip's lack of preparation in this regard leaves Ukip grasping at straws when put on the spot. What isn't going to reassure Grieve or the voting public is the guesswork of Farage and Ukip's casual "it'll be alright on the night" stance.

Having failed to acquaint themselves with the technicalities and complexities, and the assumption that we can start ripping up treaties leads Ukip and their supporters to make promises that Brexit alone cannot deliver - on which they base the rest of their promises. For instance, Ukip assumes that Brexit necessarily results in less regulation and more money to spend on nurses. This is a juvenile fantasy.

So here we are with the very real prospect of a referendum and the eurosceptic party is about to walk into all the traps set for it, leaving them to borrow arguments from only two prominent organisations in the media, both of whom are getting it badly wrong.

Moreover, this blog has warned Ukip against nativist isolation and the need to promote a positive case for leaving the EU, but instead Grieve seems to have Ukip's number in that Ukip do seem to be advocating the quickie divorce option, with all the mayhem that entails. In fact, eurosceptic though I am, were I a casual voter and unaware of the arcane alternatives on offer, I think I would side with Grieve over Ukip. Ukip have proven themselves unconvincing in every other field so why should they be taken seriously on this?

Of course, Dominic Grieve is being a little disingenuous in that he, a Tory MP, should be well aware of the options on the table, not least this speech given by one of his former cabinet colleagues, but as a europhile, he is correctly calculating that the Paterson approach is not one Ukip would endorse, assuming they are even aware of its existence, and so the goals are wide open to this line of attack.

This is precisely how saw it unfolding which precisely why Flexcit, the definitive Brexit plan, is framed the way it is, to sidestep these debates which have raged for years without resolution and to present Brexit as a risk free option for business.

Had Ukip thought this far ahead, and forced a Brexit plan into the public domain, the comments of Grieve would have been little more than an irritation. But since Ukip is not even in the game on the EU debate, I expect we shan't even see a rebuttal by Ukip. They have vacated the field entirely, primarily because of Farage's arrogance and complete ignorance.

Ukip has proven itself totally incapable of winning the arguments in the referendum fight, and that fight has already started with all sides moving their guns into place, with Ukip nowhere to be seen. And yet Farage thinks we should have a referendum in 2015 even though that is not even remotely practical or politically possible.

This is what makes the Ukip bozos all the more offensive in that our call for Ukip to get serious and produce a Brexit plan was the very reason we were unpersoned, with Kippers telling us in all seriousness that such detail would not be necessary and is unimportant to the voters. I wonder if they would now have the courage to repeat those things they said?

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