Richard North, 03/01/2013  

Article 50.jpg

Autonomous Mind
has picked up on this and this, two pieces which explore the problems of leaving the European Union, and the perils of so doing.

In his piece, however, AM extends the critique to the performance of UKIP and, in particular, Nigel Farage. The issue of how we leave the EU, AM says, strikes at the heart of Farage's credibility as a politician and explains why he cannot and will not support UKIP with him as leader. He goes on to say:
Farage's stated position is that the UK should simply up and leave the EU. It is what UKIP says it would do if by some quirk of fate it found itself forming a government. It is a broad stroke of a policy that utterly fails to acknowledge or address the difficulty and consequences of doing so. It demonstrates that Farage has not only failed to grasp the issues at stake but staggeringly, nay, disturbingly, that he has no coherent strategy for extracting the UK from the EU in a manner that protects this country's economic and commercial interests.
Therein lies much of the problem with the eurosceptic community, for if UKIP, as the leading eurosceptic party, cannot offer a credible extract strategy, then the cause is in dire trouble.

But, there is still the tendency which sees withdrawal in over-simplistic terms, arguing that all we have to do is "stop paying any money to the EU" and to "stop implementing any new EU regulations". And it is this and variations on this theme that drive the UKIP approach.

Nevertheless, through AM's comments on his blogpost (and others), it is clear that the rule of law, even (or especially) in international dealings, must apply. And dealings with the EU "must fundamentally adhere to the Rule of Law", says Andy Baxter. "Failing to do so creates immediate chaos".

Getting out of the EU thus demands more than Farage's brand of Jack-the-Lad, cheeky chappie punchline populism, and as long as there is a procedure set out in the treaties, which has been signed and ratified by the UK (whether we like it or not), we are obliged, at the very least, to attempt that route.

This, of course, is the Article 50 negotiation process, and while the debate has raged in some quarters, Farage stands aloof from one of the most important issues of the day, devoid of sensible opinion or realistic strategy.

Echoing my own words, AM states: "We have to negotiate the dotting of every 'i' and crossing of every 't' to extract ourselves from the tangled web woven over a period of decades. Withdrawal from the EU would be a serious business requiring serious people who can master fine details".

So far, Farage has not shown himself in any way to be a master of detail. Thus, allowing him to hold a prominent position on the eurosceptic side of the argument in light of his ill-considered and shallow exit policy is nothing less that lethal, says AM.

UKIP does not "own" this issue, and if it cannot up its game, then it should admit its own incompetence and stand aside. At the moment, it risks doing more harm than good.


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