The UK has its Independence Day. We Got Our Country Back!
Except of course we are not quite there yet. Before the UK is truly independent again the following has to happen:
1) Election of new a leader by the Conservative party (who will be the UKs new PM without the nicety of a general election. Keep up there at the back).
2) Appointment of a negotiating team and agreement on a strategy, objectives and red lines.
3) Invocation of Article 50 of the EU treaty.
4) Negotiation of a new relationship with the institutions of the EU.
5) Bilateral arrangements with individual member states to replace EU arrangements on some matters.
6) Negotiation of new trade deals with the Rest of the World.
7) Two years after (3), we get our actual independence day.
Those who campaigned for Brexit must remain vigilant that the process is not subverted along the way. Already there are calls for a second referendum. In due course we will see a narrative emerge that Brexit may have won, but only by “telling lies”. This is itself a lie. While there was some sloppy use of statistics in some of the Leave literature, the campaign of outright deceit, scare-mongering and threat from Remain was of an entirely different order (I will return to this in another post).
“We have to show the Remainers that their fears were unfounded, and the future is bright”.
The Remainers have lost the vote but they won’t go away. As I pointed out here winning a vote does not make you right, and even when you are right, not everyone will be convinced. We are going to have to refight many of the referendum battles over the next couple of years if we want the best possible outcome: on the importance of having a points-based non-discriminatory immigration system, on the sovereignty of the UK Parliament, and much more. And we need to bring a large part of the 48% of the electorate who voted Remain with us. Our new, confident, open-to-the-world UK needs them. We have to show them that their fears were unfounded, and the future is bright.
Suggestions from Germany of an “associated partner country” status are to be welcomed, but it must be clear this will be outside the EU institutions. Factions in Parliament would like to see a “Norway option” that keeps us in the single market and requires us to accept free movement of workers. The Leave campaign was fought on the basis that there will be an end to unrestricted migration and the supremacy of EU law, and anything less than this would repudiate the will of the people expressed in the referendum. This gives us our red lines:
- The UK will leave. We will not accept any offer of special status that keeps us within the EU. There will be no second referendum.
- The supremacy of EU law over UK law and our Parliament will end. Our new arrangements will be treaty, not a union.
- There will be an end to free movement. We will have a points-based system for work permits that will be the same for EU and non-EU workers.
The PM was right to delay invoking Article 50 until his successor is in place. There is no point starting the clock on negotiations until we know who is on the team, and our bottom line has been agreed. But there is no reason this should take three months. The sooner the Conservatives start the process of electing a new leader the better.
The Chancellor must go immediately. Not just because of his unforgivable lies and threats that resulted in 65 Conservative MPs including six former ministers effectively no-confidencing him. But for the even more important reason that proper Brexit planning at the Treasury must begin immediately. I expect his dodgy dossiers of 18 April and 23 May will already be in the bin. There must be no delay in producing some serious analysis based on a realistic range of assumptions. And that can’t happen with Osborne in place.
We carry on
So, the campaign for an independent UK, and this blog, will continue until the job is completed.