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.


  1. Many thanks for your contribution, Mary-Ellen.

  2. It is an unusual and fascinating insight you have Mary-Ellen, many thanks for sharing over the last few weeks.
    So what now, an anti anti-democracy blog...?

  3. Just a small matter of qualified principle among all of this.

    Over the years, I've learned from some 'experts' that the UK public is simply too ignorant to understand complex issues of international or national politics by means of Referendum. On observation, a very large proportion of those same experts are now insistent on the holding of a second referendum.

    I'm taking that to the Bank, for my purposes. I am happy to accept the implied statement that in fact, the UK Electorate can in fact make a legitimate decision by means of a national Referendum. Got that loud and clear.

    Similarly, I'd take many of the 'Leave' Politicians to task on exactly the same principle. I'm also Banking it. MPs, Lords and future MPs, Politicians and movers and shakers are content with, approve of, endorse, the practice of the Referendum. No matter the subject or the terms under which they might take place.

    Hope they remember that?

    Thanks for all your kind and patient work on this Mary. Happy to be on the winning side. All too rare in my lifetime. But I hope your blogging absence will not prove permanent, other than in this limited and specific historic instance? If you intend to continue, please let us know as, where and when you'll be re-engaging with debate?

    Finally, just as a notional suspicion. When the Danish Government lost their Referendum to get Denmark into the Single Currency, they then pegged the Kroner to the Euro. I'd suspect the UK Parliament may attempt something similar - to 'peg' UK national Legislation to conform - voluntarily - to EU edict. Let's keep an eye on that, at least. You know exactly where that will be leading....

  4. Thanks for your kind comments. For now, I will be working as a journalist, not a blogger. No doubt we will all meet again online somewhere. Again, thanks for following this brief blog.

  5. I miss your insightful commentary on the E.U. and other matters. I hope you will return to blogging soon.

  6. Where can we read your most up to date work?Thanks 😃.