Wednesday, 12 December 2012

A Winning Strategy

One of the great frustrations for me of the genuine euroscpetic movement is the often lack of a coherent or successful strategy to exit. The consequences of which is self-evident, by virtue that in a couple of weeks time will be the 40 year anniversary of our entry, yet still we seem to be no closer or nearer to leaving. The Green party for example have an MP despite the party polling around a quarter of Ukip's national vote in 2010 who are still waiting for their first. A very long wait it seems for Ukip to be as well.

One of the problems is a lack of acknowledgment in some circles that we have to play the cards we're dealt not what we wish them to be. Simply repealing the ECA 1972  and hoping we can easily undo all that has passed overnight is not feasible. The ECA is not some kind of 'giant red reset button' that will magically takes us to a post EU nirvana. That is not how international agreements are made.

It's precisely because the EU rules and governs a great deal that unpicking a lot of it will take time and patience - and it must be done with the minimum of disruption especially in times of economic turmoil. To save the Boiling Frog you can't simply scoop him out of the very hot water and stick him in the freezer - the shock would kill him - you have to turn the heat off and allow him to cool down within the gradually cooling water.

If we are to rip up one set of terms and conditions (by immediately repealing the ECA) then a new set of terms and conditions must already in be place to cover things like; mobile phone roaming, telecommunications, mail to the EU, passport control, banking transactions, landing slots for aircraft, trade and so on. These things will inevitably take time to agree to. Taking trade as an example, to export to the single market as a non-EU country, a Designated Port of Entry is needed (DPE) to tunnel into the EU's custom union's walls - an example is here regarding fishing:
"List of ports in EU Member States where landings and transhipment operations of fishery products are allowed and port services accessible for third-country fishing vessels, in accordance with Article 5(2) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008"
Thus without negotiating DPEs for the UK we cannot export to the EU by law outside the single market...all exports from the UK to the EU would literally stop overnight without agreements in place. Not ideal in the middle of difficult economic times.

Such facts will be used time and time again by Europhiles to devastating effect against the 'repeal the ECA' brigade in any future referendum, a referendum which is looking increasingly likely. This argument will galvanise the 'status quo' effect that affects all referendums plus being a potent dose of 'cling onto nurse' scaremongering - ensuring that any referendum will be lost by those that seek EU exit. "Exit will be a disaster" will be the cry, and by advocating repealing the ECA 1972 they will be right, and they will exploit such an argument to the full.

What we need, therefore, is a strategy to negate such views. Within Article 50 - the exit clause of the Lisbon Treaty - we thankfully have one.

Invoking Article 50 is an international legal requirement under the Vienna Convention of Treaties 1969. We are signatories to this act and if we are to remain part of the responsible international community then we have no choice but to invoke Lisbon's exit clause as per Vienna's requirements. Article 50 also allows us under Lisbon to negotiate a new 'relationship' - a new contract - which means when we leave (after 2 years), the exit will be relatively seamless, with minimum disruption.

Article 50 also has the bonus of calling Cameron's bluff. Cameron has no intention of wanting to exit the EU and will rig any referendum accordingly (my emphasis):
"I don’t want an ‘in or out’ referendum because I don’t think out is in Britain’s interests.”
Thus we have pontification from Cameron that he wants to remain in the EU but wishes to negotiate a new relationship (my emphasis):
The Government is reportedly drawing up plans for an in-or-out referendum on EU membership. David Cameron is said to support a looser relationship with the EU but he is ready to give Britons the possibility of leaving entirely to ensure a referendum has credibility.
Such protestations are pure fantasy. That the EU, who have a full blown Eurozone crisis on their hands, are going to listen to Cameron who wants to bring to the table negotiations over bringing back 'maternity leave legislation' to the UK" is someone whose favourite song must be Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. And as Roger Helmer notes, via Witterings from Witney:
Cameron’s idea that he can just show up in the Berlaymont Building and jettison half of the acquis communautaire is so much pie in the sky.”
Cameron knows this of course, which is why he is in favour of proposing it. It's a ruse to try to bring on board (deceive) euroscpetics pretending he can bring back powers, while assuring those in Europe by implication that he doesn't mean it - precisely because they know he can't deliver. It's deception on Cameron's part of the highest order.

But...there is a way of delivering 'a looser relationship' with the EU and remaining part of the single market, and it's one that backs Cameron into a corner - Article 50. We can remove ourselves from EU jurisdiction but by remaining a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) - the common market - it can fulfil Cameron's so-called wishes. Richard North calls it the strategy of "common market and out".

Being a member of the EEA:
...allows Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to participate in the EU's Internal Market without being members of the EU
The EEA is often seen as a stepping stone to full EU membership, but conversely what is a stepping stone 'in' can also be a stepping stone 'out'. By invoking Article 50 at a stroke the Tories can claim to be exiting the EU, while also arguing that trade won't be affected because we remain members of the single market. It's a winning strategy by facilitating the inevitable slow exit from the EU while negating many of the objections to do so.

It's a danger that Cameron clearly recognises...which is why he is attempting to nip this idea in the bud before it gains traction:

That Cameron is opposed is a very good reason why it has potential as a winning strategy.

26 comments:

  1. Brilliant blog. The Eu-apologists rely on lies and the ignorance of the public to make their excuses for staying in.

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  2. Thanks Julia for your kind words. You're right, lies will be the basis of arguments to try to stay in.

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  3. Damn good post TBF - and thanks for the 'Mensch' and link.

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  4. Excellent: simple to understand and worthy of a Harrogate Agenda leafelt methinks....

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  5. Good post TBF. I would only pull you up on one small point:

    But...there is a way of delivering 'a looser relationship' with the EU and remaining part of the single market

    There is so much baggage attached to the Single Market that all we need is a trade agreement that we can live with, whether that is free-trade or one that imposes some minor tarrifs.

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  6. The loss of influence is a silly argument to field, because it's really a Westminster Bubble view and argument. It's rather like the counsel for the prosecution in the Lady Chatterley case asking whether the jury would be happy with their servants reading such material.

    Most people can't see any matters of consequence which have been steered by the UK having a seat at the top table. We've been dragged into supporting the Euro, The CAP and the CFP remain unreformed. It's clear the Eurozone is going for fuller integration and will vote as a block and form an inner circle.

    The talk of fax government immediately invites comparisons with Norway and Switzerland. By the time you get round to attempting to distinguish between their political status and their state, well it's hard to communicate a complex argument to people who are rolling about on the floor laughing.


    The Article 50 route, helps deal with the 3 million jobs mantra.

    UKIP certainly aren't helping with the repeal the ECA and Up Yours Delors approach.


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  7. @WfW No worries, and thanks for the endorsement.

    @bingobax@gmail.com, Thanks Andy, hopefully anything that helps

    @Sean O'Hare, by remaining part of the single market, but out of the EU initially helps to negate the "trade problems and loss of jobs" scaremongering that will happen during any referendum campaign.

    It's not perfect but ultimate exit will be slow and protracted.

    Exiting the EU while remaining part of the single market is but a stepping stone...it's not the final destination...just a means to an end.

    A trade agreement can come later, after we have to show in real world practical terms that exiting the EU is nothing to be scared of.

    @cosmic "The Article 50 route, helps deal with the 3 million jobs mantra." Precisely.

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  8. I am proud to state that I am for repealing the 1972 act and declaring immediate withdrawal...

    ...The government could create a national sized version of the "London Residuary Body", which was the system used by Margaret Thatcher when she wanted to abolish the GLC... ('Tis a pity that she didn't realise that such bodies... sham metropolitan domains... with seedy mayors, were the EEC's preferred system of local cuckolding and would immediately be restored.)

    Anyway, whichever (fantasy) approach is taken, nothing will be permanent unless the levers of power have somehow been fantastically dropped into the people's hands (or even seized!), and the government can no longer usurp the people's sovereignty again.

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  9. @rightwrites,

    Far be it for me to politely state that you obviously know not of what you wish* - as no doubt TBF will explain.

    * or in the vernacular, you're talking through the wrong orifice! Sorry.......

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  10. Witeering (as usual)... Richard North's scenario is just that...

    The example that I gave is its own precedent.

    Sorry.

    I would agree that sometimes actually quite a lot of the time Richard is sound... But I will never accept that alienating your fellow traveller (even if you don't like him) is pointless and potentially destructive.

    So before he poisons you completely TBF, do a bit of your own thinking.

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  11. "I would agree that sometimes actually quite a lot of the time Richard is sound... But I will never accept that alienating your fellow traveller (even if you don't like him) is pointless and potentially destructive."

    My apology TBF... That should of course read more like the complete opposite... I would agree that sometimes, actually quite a lot of the time Richard is sound... But I will never accept that alienating your fellow traveller (even if you don't like him) is ANYTHING OTHER THAN pointless and potentially destructive.

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  12. @right_writes I too would want immediate withdrawal but it's not possible, besides campaigning on that in any election or referendum frightens people off.

    I do agree with your point about ensuring it can never happen again. As for the 'fantasy' approach, this one is being taken seriously higher up in the Tory government - I don't think it is entirely Richard's idea.

    Sorry not sure if your 'fellow traveller comment was aimed at me or Mr Witterings...

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  13. Thanks TBF...

    The 'fellow traveller' comment was directed at neither you nor WfW... it was directed at Richard North...

    I have support for some of his ideas, I just don't like the way that he puts people down (particularly fellow travellers)... i.e. People that would like government to be smaller, fairer and more representative, rather than one that continuously mounts byzantine projects that are unwanted, unpaid for, uncalled for and with frequently with some sort of unrealistic goal.

    Among those people are some that actually have a chance of making a difference, but he chooses (for his own personal reasons) to direct unwarranted criticism and poison his co-respondents minds... I have watched this happen with some of the regular commenters on his site and it is not pretty, and it is not necessary... Funnily enough one of them is WfW, who has changed his whole outlook in recent months..

    The other aspect of your reply is a bit odd, I never stated that people should campaign for an immediate exit from the EU. I just criticised those that say that it is impossible... and I offered a possible scenario (precedent) in the London Residuary Body, which performed the very thing that Richard North says is impossible. If he really thinks that, he has got absolutely no good reason to criticise (say) Daniel Hannan (the Judas Goat) just because he has decided that he wants to be part of a campaign called "the Pledge", which is a campaign for withdrawal from the EU, which suddenly seems to have morphed into a campaign to start negotiations with the EU on leaving... I can't tell the difference between this scenario and Richard's.

    Neither has he any reason to criticise UKIP and its leaders who he has a seething hatred for. My comment is born out of the frustration caused to me trying to balance the thoughts of Chairman Richard, with the thoughts of Chairman Farage.

    Well I decided a few weeks back after another protracted online argument, to detach myself from his online organ (along with WfW as it is a word for word exercise in sycophancy) and also Autonomous Mind and that Zsamuely woman.

    I don't want to get sycophantic myself TBF, but I thought that your blog was a little more "rounded" and you don't seem to have been persuaded that Farage (even worse... Bloom) are devil worshippers or something.

    I would (genuinely) be interested in your thoughts.

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  14. The choice on the one hand of the EU's Article 50 with a two year negotiated withdrawal; or on the other, immediate withdrawal via a repeal of the ECA, is false.

    It would be perfectly possible to announce our intention to leave, via our own parliament, then to engage in some negotiation with the EU, and others including bilateral agreements, together with an internal (UK) revamp of EU laws then repeal the ECA.

    In any case Directives are already enacted in UK legislation. We would be able to re-cast these in our own time. We would only need to deal with the Regulations that are not already part of our own laws.

    I believe Article 50 is a trap: it leaves control of the conditions under which we leave up to the rest of the EU (we cannot participate). These conditions may be structured to be so onerous we cannot meet them, then where would we be?

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  15. @budgie "The choice on the one hand of the EU's Article 50 with a two year negotiated withdrawal; or on the other, immediate withdrawal via a repeal of the ECA, is false."

    I would agree, because there isn't a choice. We have to invoke Article 50 because it is the law - we have no choice under international law. What is also false is the premises that exit can be done with anything other than A50. It can't.

    A50 is not a trap. It is a method of handing in our notice to quit. The EU does not control the means of exit - any agreement has to be approved and ratified by parties. If we don't like the terms then we don't agree (and vice versa for EU) and after two years we're out by default.

    The only trap is the one being laid for Cameron...which is the point of the post. It is a method of backing him into a corner - you want to have powers back then here's how you do it. It's calling his bluff and is one that is gaining traction within his party. With this we might actually be getting somewhere.

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  16. @right_writes Thank you for your comment and your kind words about my blog.

    I won't respond to your observations regarding WfW, because as you will know, he is more than capable of answering for himself, which he may well do.

    Rest assure that I'm no sycophant. My position is and always has been "I'm loyal to the cause (EU exit) but not to a party / person in political terms". It was a position I made clear when I joined UKIP and stood as candidate. Any criticism I make of UKIP is based on experience, and I do so in the spirit of constructive criticism - I hope that is how it is taken. In the current political climate I think and believe it should be and could be doing so much better. But should UKIP manage to get an MP elected I'll be celebrating like many others.

    Richard obviously has criticisms to make from when he was a member (I think 'seething hatred' is a little wide of the mark) many of which are ones I concur with from my own experience.

    I have seen the good of Farage and the less good of Farage, and there is a case that can be made that he does more damage than good to the Eurosceptic cause. Sometimes I can understand the 'alienating fellow travellers' bit, if the chap in question is a hindrance rather than a benefit (think Captain Oates). But no, I don't think Farage is a 'devil worshiper' ;-)

    What I like about the above strategy (apart from that invoking A50 is a legal requirement) is that it is backing the duplicitous Tory party (particularly Cameron) into a corner. They are increasingly being maneuvered (inevitably) into a position where they can no longer hold the "in Europe, rule by it". Once we demolish that comprehensively within the party, we will start getting somewhere. (and I understand more information will come to light over the weekend that holes Cameron's 'Norway's fax' argument below the waterline).

    I like the strategy for the potential of its simple effectiveness. We may at last and hopefully be starting the process of exit - and that's all I care about.

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  17. TBF said: "We have to invoke Article 50 because it is the law ...".

    That is debatable. Firstly the Vienna "treaty of treaties" (VCLT) is inapplicable between states (in this case the UK) and international organisations (here the EU).

    Even if that could be argued with, the VCLT itself does not prohibit a signatory from terminating a treaty. The language that I have read in the VCLT (on the FCO website) deals with procedures and consequences of termination and appears to take for granted a state's right to choose to continue with or reject a treaty.

    We are still regarded in international law as a sovereign nation (example: we have our parliament, continuous over centuries; and a seat at the UN). I am convinced the UK is perfectly at liberty to repeal any treaty we have signed, provided we follow protocol like giving notice. I believe you have been misled.

    Annex: from the VCLT:
    "ARTICLE 54
    Termination of or withdrawal from a treaty under its provisions or by consent of the parties
    The termination of a treaty or the withdrawal of a party may take place :
    (a) in conformity with the provisions of the treaty; or
    (b) at any time by consent of all the parties after consultation with the other contracting States."
    (My bold; And Article 54 is not a prohibitory provision).

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  18. @Budgie We are a sovereign nation that passed by consent of its parliament the Lisbon Treaty thus all of its provisions. It can't simply then say we are going to ignore certain articles as we see fit 'cos we feel like it.

    It's rather like handing your notice in at work and deciding to just walk out rather than comply with the contract's T's & C's you signed up to and working out your notice.

    The word 'may' relates to an 'either, or' option. In other words exit 'may apply by either option a) or b). Should option a) not exist then option b) applies as an example. So it's by an exit clause if there is one or by implication if not.

    Thus we are legally required to invoke A50 in a treaty we fully signed up to.

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  19. No, treaties can be revoked by any of the signatory states. Clearly the provisions of any given treaty no longer apply if a state revokes that treaty.

    The language of the VCLT is like Common Law - it is enabling rather than prohibitory. If you can find a prohibition in the VCLT that matches your claim, please let us know.

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  20. @budgie To quote: "Termination of or withdrawal from a treaty under its provisions or by consent of the parties"

    Thus termination is required under it's provisions i.e. A50 or (note or) by consent / implication if an exit clause does not exist.

    Parliament has agreed to exit via article 50 by virtue of passing the Treaty in the first place and therefore agreeing to the treaty's t's & c's.

    If you want to continue arguing on semantics feel free to carry on...I simply can't understand what amounts to a religion around not invoking A50.

    (p.s. you've still not countered my argument about A50 not being a trap)

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  21. No, the VCLT does not state that an exit clause must be used if it exists; it is offered as an option only. The VCLT does not state that the 'consent' option is only available "if an exit clause does not exist" - that is a rider of your own invention.

    Neither can I understand the religion around invoking TEU Article 50. It is an option but not the best, in my view.

    I have already countered your "argument about A50 not being a trap" in my first comment as follows: "I believe Article 50 is a trap: it leaves control of the conditions under which we leave up to the rest of the EU (we cannot participate). These conditions may be structured to be so onerous we cannot meet them, then where would we be?". If you trust the EU to play fair over Article 50, you are a bolder man than me.

    My greatest disappointment is that some eurosceptics have latched on to Article 50 and won't let go. Much worse, they denigrate eurosceptics like myself who favour the ECA repeal route as little better than traitors to the cause. This is ugly, unhelpful and divisive.

    Btw, I do appreciate your hard work, integrity and sense in maintaining and writing TBF. I just happen to disagree with you about this issue.

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  22. @budgie "I believe Article 50 is a trap: it leaves control of the conditions under which we leave up to the rest of the EU (we cannot participate). These conditions may be structured to be so onerous we cannot meet them, then where would we be?"

    To which I replied It is a method of handing in our notice to quit. The EU does not control the means of exit - any agreement has to be approved and ratified by parties. If we don't like the terms then we don't agree (and vice versa for EU) and after two years we're out by default.

    The EU cannot force anything on us. Article 50 is a notice that we're leaving, it's not a request.

    Thanks for your comments regarding my blog

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  23. When I get back home I will re-read my copy of the Lisbon treaty Article 50. My memory is that the conditions are set by the rest of the EU, not us. Then at the end of the process we will be offered terms which we must accept or reject. These terms may be so bad that we cannot afford to accept them. We would then be trapped in the EU.

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  24. Great post and some good debate here in the comments too

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