Richard North, 08/05/2016  
 


If anyone seriously believes that the UK sends £350 million to Brussels each week, and that Brexit will allow us to spend that money on The NHS, they really do not belong here. But if, like a growing number of "leave" supporters, you are embarrassed by the superficiality of the Vote Leave campaign, then this is a better place to be, free from "project incompetence".

And for those visitors who need reassurance that there is a grown-up leave campaign in existence, and that we have a credible, well researched exit plan, this is definitely the place to be. Certainly, Vote Leave are not making any concessions. In response to one of our readers, they argue that the precise policies adopted "will ultimately be a decision for the British Government to make".

Yet this is the same British Government, about which Dominic Cummings, under questioning by the Treasury Select Committee, dismissed as incompetent. This had Chris Philp MP remarking that to expect it to come up with a exit plan was "a bit of a stretch".

Hannan is making the same mistake. He sees a referendum as voters "instructing their government, rather as a client instructs his barrister". Voting to leave, he says, "means giving ministers a mandate: we'd be telling them to negotiate our departure on the best possible terms".

In one fell swoop, the man has rendered valueless the concept of the think-tank, an entire industry devoted to advising government. For every facet of government activity, there is one or other think-tank devoted to framing policies yet, on this one crucial issue, Hannan would have them silent.

Thus, we do not accept, and nor to we believe that the Vote Leave stance is genuine. In June 2014, Cummings was writing about the findings of his own focus groups.

"The strongest arguments among these people for staying in the EU are negative economic arguments", he says. These were: "the fear of jobs lost, prices up, businesses leaving, and living standards down". If those who want to leave the EU, neutralise the[se] economic arguments, he added. "Then these people will vote to leave as there is nothing else supporting membership. If they do not neutralise this argument, then they could easily lose".

This is exactly our view, and the reason why Flexcit was written – initially in response to the IEA Brexit competition.

This had Mark Littlewood, director general, telling us that: "There is an urgent need to consider the alternatives for Britain’s economic and constitutional position if we were to choose to leave the EU. Exit from the European Union now has to be considered to be a serious possibility. The task of mapping out a successful future on the outside requires serious thought and requires it now".

When we launched the Leave Alliance, we identified our exit plan Flexcit as a key part of our strategy, which you can see for yourself from the video of the event.

Then, on the 23rd of last month, at the ROSL in London, we filmed a TED-style talk on Flexcit, better to explain the plan. This will now be posted on YouTube tomorrow (Monday), ironically Europe Day, although better known by the Soviets as Victory Day. And that will complete the triumvirate of resources we have developed. Still to come is the leaflet template for general distribution. We'll have that for you shortly.

That an exit plan is desperately needed is confirmed (if confirmation was needed) by Lord Ashcroft in his latest focus group report. Undecided voters, he tells us, tend to feel that the bigger burden in the campaign is on the leavers. Despite efforts to acquaint people with the perils of staying in the EU, the view is that, although there are uncertainties to remaining, "we know more about staying in than if we leave".

Exiting, therefore, "is a huge question mark". People like to stay with what they're used to. It's like relationships, jobs – it's harder to leave than it is to stay. Now that the local elections and all the other frivolities are out of the way, the referendum campaign, says Ashcroft, "will move into full throttle".

But with less than seven weeks to go, most of the people interviewed thought that if they learned nothing new between now and referendum day, the safer bet would be to stay. "Brexit could be like getting a tattoo when you're young. When you get older, you might regret it", is the motif.

That, to me, is the crucial point. Unless in these few short weeks, we are able to provide that reassurance that leaving is the "safer bet", we are looking down the nose of another 40 years of EU membership. "Flexcit the Movie", is a step in the right direction.






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