Saturday, 9 July 2016

Neither in nor out of the EU: stuck in the cat flap

This time last year, one of the leaders of the Leave campaign asked me to brief him with ideas for a Brexit strategy.

I started by saying, ‘Winning a Leave vote in the referendum is not our objective. Our objective is to take the UK out of the EU. Winning a Leave vote is merely part of our strategy to achieve that objective.’

Point one after that: if the Leave vote won, Britain would have to get out of the EU quickly or not at all. ‘Anything less than a rapid exit will risk the reversal of a Leave vote.’

I’d had too much experience of the Irish referendums to advise anything else.

The only safe, quick way out was, of course, the EEA-EFTA option as a half-way house. Richard North had long since spelt it out in detail. During that meeting with the Leave campaign leader, I spelt it out in brief.

The advice wasn’t taken, and now we are about to go into prolonged turmoil which will end with a fudge of Britain half-in and half-out of the EU – a position Lord Tebbit described a few months ago at a Bruges Group meeting as neither inside the house nor outside the house, but ‘caught in the cat-flap.’

Those of us who support Brexit have not yet achieved our objective. We’ve merely achieved the first part of our strategy.

This blog was just for the referendum. It ends today. Thanks to those of you who have read and commented during these last two months.

Meanwhile the real fight for Britain and its independence starts now. The referendum was just the warm-up.