Richard North, 10/05/2016  

Moving on from Booker's sterling introduction, we now have the first part of my presentation (of 3). Coincidentally on the day, we had the Telegraph telling us that the Leave campaign desperately needed to up its game.

From its lead article, I was able to quote from the final passage, where it noted that the Leave campaign can complain about "project fear" as much as it likes, and with some legitimacy, but that does not change the fact that many voters see reasons to fear a future outside the EU.

To win them over, said the Telegraph, "leave" has to show that a prosperous alternative is possible. "They need to turn an intellectual proposition into a coherent, detailed plan".

It is an extraordinary facet of the legacy media, therefore, that with over 60,000 downloads of Flexcit, the Telegraph is able completely to ignore its existence, as indeed do all the other national newspapers.

However, such is the reach of the internet and the social media, our gathering at the ROSL will potentially be able to reach as many people as did Jimmy Goldsmith in 1997 when he held a meeting at Alexander Palace on the northern outskirts of London, with about 10,000 people present.

If we are going to win this referendum, then it is going to be though this means – using the resources available to, with people talking to people, by-passing the media, the politicians and the train-wreck of the official campaign.

So three years after we have made Flexcit available on line, with contributions from hundreds of people, we finally have a national newspaper telling us what we already know – that we need an exit plan.

Even then, on the day I found myself referring to Charles Moore who, that week in his Spectator notebook had slavishly followed the Vote Leave line in arguing that we should not have an exit plan, otherwise the opposition would attack it.

The result, of course – as I pointed out – was that the "leave" campaign was being attacked for not having a plan, while the opposition made up its own "straw man" plans to knock down, while David Cameron continues unchallenged with his mantra that leaving is "a leap in the dark".

Despite the Vote Leave propensity to argue that black is white, there is not a sensible person on the planet who will disagree that an exit plan is an essential part of the "leave" toolkit. This, I make very clear in the first part of my presentation.

It is tragic that, at this stage of the campaign – with less than seven weeks to the referendum – we still need to make this point. And, with Vote Leave obstinately refusing to concede the obvious, for reasons which seem entirely unrelated to the needs of the campaign, it is left to us as the strategic reserve, to do the heavy lifting.

Over the incompetence of Vote Leave, I have no control. I've done my best to negotiate a more sensible strategy with them but, as Andrew Tyrie in the latest Treasury Select Committee session – with the oleaginous Matthew Elliott in the hot seat – there is simply no way of engaging with these people. It's like trying to wrestle with Scotch mist. They think we can have free trade because ... they think we can have free trade - "deliberately obfuscating the whole debate".

If there is a mistake which I have been making – and I readily admit to making one – it is that I have been far too focused on Phase One and the mechanisms for leaving the EU, and not enough on the end game. This is understandable, if regrettable, but it means we are still bogged down in the arguments about how we leave, and have spent far too little time on the longer term outcome of Brexit.

To an extent, I've addressed this defect in my presentation, with special emphasis on Phase Three and globalisation through UNECE. These issues are dealt with in the next part.

In what it going to be a busy week, it is very much up to all of us to decide on our own agendas. The Prime Minister has yesterday decided that he was going to regale us with warnings about war breaking out in Europe if we leave the EU, making "security" part of the "grid" for this week.

No doubt, Vote Leave, even as we write, are planning their own "grid" in an attempt to dictate to us what we should be excited about this week. We can follow their agenda, or we can create our own – the one that they refuse to endorse. But if you think that an exit plan is important, and people should know about it, then this is the place to be.

We've provided some tools and we're asking for some help in finishing the job.

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