Richard North, 04/11/2015  
 

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Although dismissed by Labour as a "meaningless publicity stunt" (a fiction spread by Leave.eu - see above), Chancellor George Osborne's speech to the Federation of German Industries in Berlin yesterday was anything but. 

Upstaged by the German Chancellor on her own turf, he was almost completely ignored by the German media, but then he wasn't speaking to a German audience. This was entirely for domestic consumption.

What Osborne is doing is building on the foundations which he was laying back in September when he told the New Statesman that he was looking for treaty change to resolve the issue" of creating "two classes of members" within the EU.

This is associate membership by any other name, and yesterday Osborne spelled out in more detail what was needed "to fix the relationship between the member states in the Eurozone and those outside" – the essence of what the Financial Times calls a "two-tier Europe".

Now the Chancellor (our Chancellor, that is) is spelling it out that the principles of this two-tier system must be. "embedded in EU law and binding on EU institutions", one which the FT says "will comprise an integrated eurozone surrounded by a looser group of countries using their own currencies".

"This is about people's jobs and people's wallets", says Osborne in a BBC interview with the self-regarding Keunssberg, when he goes to some length to position this move as a "middle way".

There are some people, he says, who want to leave the EU regardless, some people who want to stay in regardless. But he thinks,
… the majority are looking at this negotiation. And if we don't get a deal, they'll question whether the EU works for Britain or even can work for Britain. If we do get a deal, I think people can see we can have the best of both worlds. So this deal is going to be absolutely crucial to the outcome of the referendum.
In his speech, amplified in the interview, Osborne is "candid" in saying: "there is a deal to be done and we can work together". The threat is explicit: "Rather than stand in your way, or veto the Treaty amendments required, we, in Britain, can support you in the Eurozone make the lasting changes that you need to see to strengthen the euro. In return, you can help us make the changes we need to safeguard the interests of those economies who are not in the Eurozone".

All this would sound more impressive if it wasn't already pre-ordained, but those like Dominic Cummings who buy into the idea that this is a "charade" are missing the point (as they so often do), allowing Vote Leave Ltd to misinterpret the event, underplaying its significance. Leave.eu trails in its wake, parroting its rival's line, having completely lost the plot - totally blown it.

The clever people who see it as a "charade" are indeed missing the point. Of course it's a charade – this is indeed all part of the theatre. But the theatre is an important part of the game. It's part of a structured "play" that has Osborne and Cameron working together in an attempt to outflank the "leavers" and create an illusion of measured progress.

Putting it together is Jonathan Lindsell, who correctly identifies Cameron's recent moves to rule out the Norway Option as a ploy to limit the options of the "leave" campaign.

If the Norway (Interim) Option is neutralised, the high-noise "leavers" will only be able to promise the Swiss, WTO or Free Trade Agreement options. "All these", Lindsell says, "entail considerably less certainty and market access than the Norway option, and the first and third could take years of acrimonious exit negotiations to attain. In this way, the "remain" side will be able to attack leavers as fantasists or gamblers who dismissed their own most moderate Brexit choice.

With Osborne positioning associate membership as the "moderate middle way" and Mr Cameron knocking down the options to create a TINA (there is no alternative) scenario, the electorate's choice will be dangerously narrowed. Basically, in its dressed-up form, it will be associate membership or nothing.

The worst of it is that the two big noisemakers in the "leave" campaign seem completely unaware of the danger. They are making the most fundamental of all mistakes, gravely underestimating the opposition they are facing.

Vote Leave Ltd doesn't understand the play at all, and Leave.eu is completely misinterpreting the Chancellor's moves, while recycling the propaganda from Matthew Elliott's own business partner.

Both noisemakers have walked eyes-wide-shut into the Norway "trap" and they now seem determined to ignore the danger – so well articulated by The Sceptic Isle. The interesting thing is that we always suspected we were going to have to carry the load. We just didn't think it would come to a head so soon, with the noisemakers deciding to opt out of the real battle.

All of us would like to see a proper campaign up and running, but both "high noise" groups, Vote Leave Ltd and Leave.eu, are consistently falling at the hurdles. Their incompetence has reached a stage where they are probably beyond redemption. Yet, just when we think they have reached bottom, they prove that they have still to reach the lowest ebb.

The only thing so far to have been our salvation is that the "remains" are almost as incompetent as our noisemakers. But the moment the real opposition steps in (Cameron and Osborne), you immediately see "our" side in complete disarray. There is no excuse for the lack of strategic being displayed, and the groups are falling into every tactical trap going, so much so you would think the operations are being run by interns.

The movement opposing EU membership deserves better than this, and it is not right that they should be let down by the incompetence of these train-wreck campaigns. To try and compensate for this, we are going to have to work that bit harder, but needs must. This fight is really too important to cede to amateurs. We will just have to keep battling on regardless.






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