Richard North, 29/06/2016  
 


When I was researching for my book, The Many, Not The Few, on the Battle for Britain, I was staggered to read in Cabinet papers in 1940, when Britain's peril was at its height, discussions about the post-war reconstruction of Europe.

That was the sort of forward thinking that the "eurosceptic" movement should have been doing but, apart from Flexcit and the heroic efforts of EUReferendum readers, there is is precious little to fall back on. We've been fighting the "war" for so many decades, with so little expectation of winning, that we've not devoted anything like enough time to winning the "peace".

Now, we are probably in greater peril than we've ever been before. The "leave" factions are still split, and with much energy being soaked up in the Conservative Party leadership campaign, this means we are still not focused on the issue at hand.

The ex-remains (XRs), however, are by no means as distracted. Most of the ideas for the the post-exit settlement are coming from that quarter, mainly centred around the "Norway/EEA option" which is suddenly coming into fashion as the alternative to EU membership. Even Kenneth Clarke recommended it, you will recall.

But there is no way that this option was ever acceptable as the end game. It always was sub-optimal, and was tolerable only as a short-term interim measure. If it is imposed on us by the XRs, we will be worse off than when we were in the EU. Frying pan and fire are still very much in my mind.

Yesterday, I was in London at a Leave Alliance meeting and there it dawned on me how ill-prepared we are to fight the coming battle. It is absolutely true that Whitehall didn't have a plan, and Vote Leave certainly doesn't have one. And, of course, neither does Farage. We are, therefore, at risk of losing the battle before many of us even realise what is at stake.

The media are thrashing around, reinventing the wheel and dealing with issues at a pathetically simplistic level. Politicians likewise are so far behind the curve that they're struggling to catch up. Most of them never will.

With tiredness temporarily at bay, I will return to the issues today, adding to this blogpost, and then do a round-up for the overnight post. To my mind, there are two immediate issues to resolve. Firstly, when and under what conditions should we invoke Article 50? Second, how do we resolve the conflict between Single Market participation and the requirement to allow free movement of persons.

In the meantime, treat the "comments" as an open thread, and I'll take up the conversation on this blogpost as it develops.

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Update: A change of mind ... I'm preparing a new post, on the timing of our Article 50 notification.






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The Many, Not the Few