Remain is losing momentum – time to change tack

 

With Boris declaring for Leave at a point where Remain has finally played its less than decisive hand, there is a distinct feeling abroad that the referendum momentum has shifted from Remain towards Leave.

As I see it, the Remain camp is stuck with five problems.

  1. People have had enough of a constant stream of dire warnings about life after Brexit and are coming to the conclusion that the Remain argument is based on scaremongering.
  2. We face a largely hostile press that will continue to urge the public to support Leave.
  3. The ‘what have the Romans ever done for us’ view of our EU membership has produced a list that is good but not compelling.
  4. The Dad’s Army ‘us and them’ view of Europe creates an atmosphere of suspicion that favours a Leave result.
  5. Most crucially of all, the Remain case lacks passion and vision.

On this last point, consider the appeal of the Leave case.  A Britain unchained from Europe, resurgent and powerful enough as the 5th largest economy can take on the world. Talk of stepping out of the shadows and into the light, pessimism versus hope. It’s the prose of Remain versus the poetry of Leave. Remain is rational. Leave is emotional. And which is more appealing to an electorate bamboozled by conflicting facts, rationality or emotion?

So how should Remain proceed? What can we do to inject some emotion into the Remain cause?

We cannot afford to enter the final month of the campaign level in the polls against the backdrop of a worsening refugee crisis in Europe. This could easily be the issue that pushes the Don’t Knows to make up their minds to pull up the drawbridge and Leave. The Remain camp needs to demonstrate that the crisis is under control or is at least solvable. This is a big ask and means engaging with the EU in fashioning a European political solution to the crisis. Tim Farron’s call to support 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children would be a cornerstone of such a policy.

We cannot ask people to vote for the status quo when Leave is promising something more emotionally compelling. We must develop something better than the status quo, an inspiring role for Britain in a reformed EU. David Cameron has secured a guarantee that Britain will be exempt from further political integration. This needs to be articulated as a positive vision of a better Europe for every member state based on a closely integrated Eurozone core and a loosely integrated fringe. Britain would play a leading role among the fringe states countering Michael Howard’s ‘one size fits all’ anachronism claims.

We have to promote a positive image of being European. Most people would probably not describe themselves as British European and many see the EU as largely irrelevant. There are 2 million Brits living and working in the EU. Let’s tell their stories and show how not just a few, but millions of British European lives have been improved through the EU.

Above all, the Remain camp must seize back the initiative. Cameron must change tack, abandon the idea that this is a campaign to save the Conservative party and recognise that our continued EU membership transcends party politics. Only a coherent coalition of Remain forces across the political spectrum focused on winning the hearts and minds of the Don’t Knows can deliver a Remain victory.

 

* Phil Aisthorpe has been a Lib Dem member since September 2015 having previously been a life-long Labour supporter. In a previous life, Phil worked as an IT planning manager and business strategy manager with a leading UK financial services organisation.

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66 Comments

  • Antony Hook Antony Hook 29th Feb '16 - 1:10pm

    A really important article.

    I am speaking at a lot of public meetings on IN/OUT at the moment and I certainly believe it is possible to speak for IN in a way that makes an emotional connection with people.

    Just speak to people about things they really care about in an interesting way.

    Tell them about the future. Tell them that the truth that prosperity of our children and grandchildren depends on this vote.

    Remind them we started integration in the aftermath of World War Two and that we have now achieved our longest ever peace in Europe. I call to mind the differences between my life and my grandfathers’ lives and I can’t help but feel emotion. I remind them that European human rights were put in place to uphold freedom and address the evil that fascism wrought upon the world. There are few more emotive words to English ears than “fascism”.

    I talk about free movement benefiting 2 million Brits living abroad. How they have travelled to work, study or retire, inspired by hope of a brighter tomorrow and at risk of their dreams shredded if we leave.

    I call to mind that vicious criminals who wreck harm on people’s lives and are returned to face justice through EU co-operation on crime. And judges, who have a special place in the English psyche, now have their previous convictions from anywhere in Europe.

    I call to mind that when I was a boy my local beach was filthy. Now, thanks to European anti-pollution laws it is clean, like 99% of British beaches and children play in safety.

    If you feel passion and emotion about these things, as I do, then when you state your facts, your feelings should be all too apparent and compelling for others.

  • Eddie Sammon 29th Feb '16 - 1:14pm

    We should talk about national and individual self-interest. It is on individual interests that I think the Remain camp has the big upper hand.

    The freedom to move across Europe, to travel, to study, to work and retire anywhere on the continent.

    Keeping the United Kingdom together and the Union Jack can tap into people’s emotions, but in Scotland and Northern Ireland I would adopt a different message, again based on individual freedom.

    I think this is how to win the emotive case in England, where the main risk of leaving seems to be.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 29th Feb '16 - 1:22pm

    Phil

    Terrific to read your article and welcome you to the party, how good to have you with us! I agree with everything you have said.As a son of an Italian who was conscripted into the Mussolini youth, and , indeed , my father saluted Il Duce himself, it is the stories he told me and my brother , that resonated and made me even more the British patriot , that I am.Emotion is necessary in politics.Too often as Liberals and Democrats we appeal to, and find appealing , the rational, instead of the emotional.I say it is time for both sometimes!

    On this issue I am for Remain , but , even so , I do not feel it emotionally.I would like to , and , as a public speaker or writer , I know if I shared my fathers experiences of life under dictatorship, of the second world war he saw as a youth, and of the coming to a new country because of the British liberation of his, it could make people feel just as keen to on a peaceful , harmonious Europe, and to Remain in the EU,as to be , rightfully , a British patriot !

  • “A Britain unchained from Europe, resurgent and powerful enough as the 5th largest economy can take on the world.” – with the utmost respect, for transparency, I would personally also favour people talking about leaving the “EU” (political organisation), rather than “Europe” (1 A continent of the northern hemisphere” – 1http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/europe).

  • P.S. – “I fought for Britain and I know how the EU weakens our defences” – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/12176954/I-fought-for-Britain-and-I-know-how-the-EU-weakens-our-defences.html – would be most interested to hear a rebuttal – thank you , indeed.

  • Use of language, no one has succumbed on this post yet, but stop using the label xenophobe for people who may want to leave. Especially don’t use it when you’re claiming, as I have seen on comments on this site, that if we left then the rest of the Europe might return to their old warring ways. That has got to be xenophobia in the true sense.

  • P.P.S. Boris Johnson from beginning to 4 minutes saying “I have made up my mind.” (particularly watch his body language at about 18-24 seconds) + “I do not think there is anything else I can do; I will be advocating vote leave.” – for me that felt “strong” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=327UM8ih7zg – as the author of this article wrote – “5. Most crucially of all, the Remain case lacks passion and vision.” (and why call it BSE (Britain Stronger in Europe)?

  • P.P.P.S – TB (Tony Blair) supports BSE (Britain Stronger in Europe), etc.

  • (of course, no disrespect intended to Tony Blair or Britain Stronger in Europe (again we cannot leave a continent)

  • Good thread, this can only be won on the positives, the lessons of the independence referendum must be learnt.

    @Antony Hook
    As a former serviceman I wouldn’t see Defence as a strong issue, quite simply we have not had peace in Europe since the Second World War, ask anyone who served or visited the Balkans in the early to mid 1990’s (or the very effective Paddy Ashdown who helped secure lasting peace there).

    It has been NATO much more than the EU that has helped secured our freedom. It was Nato that intervened in the Balkans when we saw a return to concentration camps in Europe. It was NATO that formed the basis of our side of the Iron Curtain in the majority of this period – a NATO dominated by the USA and us. Don’t forget for the older generation they may remember De Gaulle saying “Non” to membership. It was our third request to join before we were accepted in 1969 (joining in 1973) – not quite the integration in the aftermath of the War.

  • As the above may sound too critical just to say I agree with the rest of Antony’s post wholeheartedly!!!

    I would especially raise how our trade outside the EU can be benefited from the strength of collective bargaining..

  • Spot on Phil, we are just getting a repeat of the dire warnings we had 15 years ago if we did’t join the €uro and as we know now the reverse was true.

  • From the domestic point of view I’d like to know how the Tories much trumpeted “Long Term Economic Plan” matches the uncertainty of leaving the EU’. More accurately they should be trumpeting “We have two different long term economic plans and we’ll let you know in June which one it is”.

    And to think we propped up such a motley crew to “clear up Labour’s mess”, thus giving them the opportunity five years down the line to create an even bigger mess.

  • Phil Aisthorpe 29th Feb '16 - 3:52pm

    Philip – on the issue of the EU and defence, as you point out any external threats to the EU are primarily the responsibility of NATO and not the EU. When people talk of the EU preserving the peace in Europe I think this refers to the fact that EU membership with its basic 4 freedoms ensures there is never sufficient nationalist rivalry between member states to justify military aggression. There is a quote attributed to Frederic Bastiat, “When goods don’t cross borders, soldiers will.” This is why the EU will never compromise on the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour and why an independent UK can forget about full access to the single market without free movement of labour.

    Last week while out walking I came across a WWI war memorial in a local village churchyard. The dedication was to the fallen of the ‘European War’, the original name for the conflict. I had never heard of this description before, but in that moment it brought home to me just how fragile the peace in Europe was prior to the creation of the EU.

  • @ Phil Aisthorpe Yes, quite right, Phil.

    2016 is the centenary of the Battle of the Somme (over 1 million casualties) and Verdun (730,000 casualties).

  • @Phil Aisthorpe – with the utmost respect, here is another quote: “Benjamin Franklin — ‘Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.'” – we do not need to be in a political union to sell things to another country/state: “the EU” + they sell us a lot more than we do the EU.

  • Yes, Phil A is right. The EU can’t compromise on the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour. That’s why both Switzerland and Norway, as having access to the single market (in a slightly limited way for Switzerland thanks to it being through a complicated treaty arrangement), have to have freedom of movement. And they have to pay into the EU budget. Indeed, it’s been calculated that Norway’s equivalent cost per capita is 93% of the UK’s contribution (I think that figure takes into account the UK’s rebate) which rather suggests that being in the Single Market but not being in the EU would barely save us a penny.

    Furthermore that’s why, after the 2014 Swiss referendum calling for immigration controls, Switzerland will be ejected from the single market if the law comes into effect. In fact, Swiss citizens have had limits on their access to the EU (studies, collaboration in science, etc) ever since the referendum as an immediate sanction by the EU.

    Anyway, OK, it’s true that the Leave campaign has an “emotional advantage” but it’s a pretty stark choice: I can’t see how we could be in the Single Market but outside the EU and have any sort of deal which didn’t involve the reedoms of movement. The Single Market is, as far as I’m concerned, a damned positive thing.

  • Phil Aisthorpe 29th Feb '16 - 4:43pm

    Nice one Philip, except that I have more freedom as an EU citizen than I would as merely a UK citizen. What extra freedoms would I personally have outside of the EU? My daughter has a lovely life living and working in Amsterdam and Paris. Would she have more freedom if she were to sell her apartment, give up her job and return to the UK?

  • @Phil Aisthorpe – with the utmost respect, I have personally for example lived and worked in India, Israel and Japan (am a UK citizen) – none are part of the EU (of course) – I am not sure any of the Brexit party representatives from Labour and Conservative are currently (including UKIP) talking about mass repatriation, etc. – is the EU claiming/ever claimed this would happen?

    Finally, you talk about “freedom” – how is the UK free when overruled by the EU?

    “Every single day, every single minister is told: ‘Yes Minister, I understand, but I’m afraid that’s against EU rules’. I know it. My colleagues in government know it. And the British people ought to know it too: your government is not, ultimately, in control in hundreds of areas that matter.” http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/02/michael-gove-why-im-backing-leave/ – Michael Gove

    Best wishes,

    Philip

  • @ Ian – here are some more quotes from http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/02/michael-gove-why-im-backing-leave/ by Michael Gove:

    “Even though we are outside the euro we are still subject to an unelected EU commission which is generating new laws every day and an unaccountable European Court in Luxembourg which is extending its reach every week, increasingly using the Charter of Fundamental Rights which in many ways gives the EU more power and reach than ever before.”

    He seems to be saying and to specifically requote part of the above quote: “unelected EU commission which is generating new laws every day”.

    He also said previously:

    “Laws which govern citizens in this country are decided by politicians from other nations who we never elected and can’t throw out.”

    He goes on:

    “As a minister I’ve seen hundreds of new EU rules cross my desk, none of which were requested by the UK Parliament, none of which I or any other British politician could alter in any way and none of which made us freer, richer or fairer.”

    He also writes:

    “It is hard to overstate the degree to which the EU is a constraint on ministers’ ability to do the things they were elected to do, or to use their judgment about the right course of action for the people of this country.”

    He closes:

    “Are we really too small, too weak and too powerless to make a success of self-rule? On the contrary, the reason the EU’s bureaucrats oppose us leaving is they fear that our success outside will only underline the scale of their failure.”

    All the best.

  • Philip, it is a bit tiring hearing of how “every single day [something] is against EU rules” or “Brussels rules our lives” and so on. Yes, there are thousands of rules thanks to the EU. But there are many more thousands of laws made by Westminster and by-laws made by our local councils.

    Furthermore, the EU has at its core the concept of subsidiarity which among other things states that the EU does not aim to make laws or regulations that would be better made at national, regional or local level. It is, of course, entirely our own fault that we don’t have enough proper regional or local power in the UK (except of course, only recently, Scotland). Yet those laws and regulations which should be local are in fact governed by Westminster, not Brussels, as are all the things that *should* be governed by Westminster but excluding regulations that are of necessity – because they relate to the single market – passed by the EU. It’s utter nonsense to complain about an excess of EU rules.

    Michael Gove is being hypocritical. I’ve never heard him trumpet the cause of local and regional government in the UK. He is happy for the UK to be the most centralised state in the developed world. He bemoans how a “higher power” (the EU) allegedly dominates us, and yet blindly continues to allow a remote Westminster to govern every corner of England when it should not. He is yet another blinkered nationalist who thinks that sovereignty should rest with Westminster and only Westminster when the reality, in the 21st century, must be that sovereignty should rest with local councils, regions, nations, supranational organisations such as the EU and indeed global bodies such as the UN, each appropriately and to varying degrees.

  • To continue on Gove. he says”…the EU is proving incapable of dealing with the current crises in Libya and Syria”. All of a sudden Gove is expecting the EU to behave as one in foreign policy. The “Leave” people don’t want a politically integrated Europe with a common defence force, single government and single foreign policy, yet Gove is happy to complain that it *fails* to be thus and use this as a reason to leave? Pah!

    Gove then says “Far from providing security in an uncertain world, the EU’s policies have become a source of instability and insecurity. Razor wire once more criss-crosses the continent,”

    So, the conflict in Syria, which has caused more than two million people to leave their homes and caused EU countries to recoil in shock at the scale of movement, is, according to Gove, the fault of the EU, not the fault of (a) a war in Syria resulting both from opposition to Assad and the rise of Daesh (b) the rise of Daesh in Iraq caused by (c) the previous upheaval and power vacuum in Iraq following the second Gulf War, a war led primarily by the USA an UK and ultimately caused by the failure to bring proper closer after the first Gulf Warwar that followed Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait (d) the imperial nations France and the UK carving up the Middle East 100 years agoand drawing absurd borders that did nothing but allow sectarian divisions to remain buried until such time as the removal of strong-men allowed them to surface and unleash hell.

    For if “Razor wire once more criss-crosses the continent”, what else must Gove be referring to with his bizarre narative?

  • “Time to change tack”

    All I can see is somebody trying to re-arrange deckchairs on the SS EU.

    I have not seen on this or any other blogs, any positive argument for staying based on actual facts, everybodies views are just the usual abstract constructs. If we discount the pathetic scaremongering that Brexit will bring 7 plagues upon us etc, etc, why can’t anybody on the remain side explain why it is worth £55million a day, and why the open borders depressing the wages of our poorest workers and putting insane pressure on public services is an advantage. What is the advantage to a low paid worker in Warrington, or somebody with a long term health condition that can’t get a doctors appointment because of the massive increase in doctors lists.

    Remain are losing the debate because despite 40 years of the EEC and EU, they have absolutely nothing of substance to sell their vision of more of the same for the future.

    Although it is only my personal experience out campaigning for Brexit, the one thing that is seriously irritating people at the moment is the Remain side treating them like morons, trying to link anything and everything with a disaster if we Brexit. A lot of people I have spoken to also have a big issue with the constant putting down of our country as incapable of running its own affairs.

    You say it is time for Remain to change tack, that is self evident because at the moment Remain is the best recruiter Leave has got.

  • Mike Falchikov 29th Feb '16 - 7:13pm

    Well said, indeed, Michael Kilpatrick, about the EU and Gove in particular. Pity that Gove
    has gone on an anti-EU crusade just as he seems to have found a reforming voice on penal policy. On UK being a highly centralised state, not only is there the slightest evidence that a Brexit will do anything to change this, indeed it will probably make it worse with all the silly hubris about the “Mother of Parliaments” etc., but it will almost certainly lead eventually to the breakup of the UK with Scotland becoming an independent, one-party state in the grip of an even more centralising SNP – in terms of what goes on at Holyrood these days, we’re already halfway there.

  • Katharine Pindar 29th Feb '16 - 7:20pm

    Great to read the reasoned arguments of Michael Kilpatrick. All I want to say that I was astonished at Phil Aisthorpe’s statement that the Remain cause lacks passion and vision. Personally I find the stance of the Leave camp is absurd – ‘pull up the drawbridge’ about sums up the absurdity – and I am so passionate a European that I’ve seriously considered where I could live outside Britain if Brexit succeeds. But I have some hope that the majority of my fellow citizens aren’t blinkered Little Englanders yearning for a fantasy future.

  • @Michael Kirkpatrick – with the utmost respect re: the European migration issue, perhaps having no borders (Schengen) and Angela Merkel inviting “all and sundry” hardly helped?

    “Furthermore, the EU has at its core the concept of subsidiarity which among other things states that the EU does not aim to make laws or regulations that would be better made at national, regional or local level.”

    You are accepting that the EU can/could make national law? I will requote: “As a minister I’ve seen hundreds of new EU rules cross my desk, none of which were requested by the UK Parliament, none of which I or any other British politician could alter in any way and none of which made us freer, richer or fairer.”

    “He is yet another blinkered nationalist who thinks that sovereignty should rest with Westminster and only Westminster when the reality, in the 21st century, must be that sovereignty should rest with local councils…” – has Michael Gove ever claimed that local councils should not have powers?

    “The “Leave” people don’t want a politically integrated Europe with a… single foreign policy, yet Gove is happy to complain that it *fails* to be thus and use this as a reason to leave?” – failing to achieve something successfully: i.e. a coherent migration policy, whilst trying to do something are not mutually exclusive concepts?

    “the reality, in the 21st century, must be that sovereignty should rest with… supranational organisations such as the EU…” – says who?

    http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/02/michael-gove-why-im-backing-leave/

    (P.S. for the record, I AM happy to be informed/educated.)

  • @Katherine P.S. Whilst it ultimately does not bother me personally, can everyone please carefully consider before calling others “blinkered Little Englanders,” etc. – I very much doubt it if those on the “Remain” side would appreciate reciprocal “platitudes” (and do not intend to initiate any such myself).

  • P.S. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

  • Philip, it’s Kilpatrick, not Kirkpatrick. Please observe, especially as both Katharine P and Mike F repeated my full name in their replies.

    Merkel “invited all and sundry” because there is an absolutely enormous humanitarian crisis. My own view is that Syria should have been dealt with four years ago when it started – but that’s another argument…

    As for the refugees, exactly what would have happened had there been no EU and no Schengen? How many thousands would have died trying to cross the Meditteranean anyway? How many would have died if migrants had amassed in Turkey and Greece, unable to get any further owing to Greece’s land borders all being closed?

    Gove on devolution: the Conservatives have, in general done *nothing* for real devolution except begrudling accepting the call for more in Scotland. Here is a summary of some of Gove’s voting records relating to debates to give more power to the Welsh Assembly: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/11858/michael_gove/surrey_heath/divisions?policy=6708

    Not exactlt ecstatic, is he?

  • As for who says “sovereignty should rest with various bodies at different levels…” the answer is surely “anyone with common sense”:

    It’s common sense that local planning should be governed by local authorities but that national defence should be governed by national government. Local taxation is raised (and wealth redistributed to the poor in the form of local services). National taxation is raised and wealth redistributed via national services and benefits.

    It’s also common sense that the structure and tiers of government should be designed on a rational basis with appropriate levels of taxation and legislative powers for the functions required of that tier of government. How can you possibly argue against that unless you fundamentally believe that there should only be one single tier of government?

    It is common sense that a Single Market must have a single set of laws and regulations that govern that market. And that the poorer nations ar assisted to some extent by the richer ones. It is in all the participants’ interest that all citizens in the Market are empowered, employable, and have some disposable income and a level playing field on which to compete against and interact with the other participants.

    It’s therefore inherently obvious that whilst that Single Market has nothing to do with local planning decisions here in South Cambridgeshire or the defence budget of the United Kingdom, there must be some body to oversee the Single Market. That requires funds and legislation.

  • I’ll go even further:

    It’s also common sense to suggest that there should be some set of human rights and basic freedoms that *all* people on the planet are entitled to and empowered by, and some form of level playing field on which all of the nations of the world may interact with each other, and in some respects these are part of the purpose of the United Nations.

    Both the EU and UN, as supranational and global bodies, require funding by their member states (from each according to their abilities to pay, perhaps?) and the UK should rightly continue to fund them and participate as a major player in the setting the rules that govern both.

    Just as it right that the UK should give the appropriate level of power to those authorities *below* Westminster, for the government of the minutiae of our daily lives, it should give some powers to those *above* for the proper funding and legislation of bodies and organisations of which the UK is a member. Yes, some aspects of the Single Market affect our daily lives: consumer rights and more. Sovereignty is avaried and multi-faceted beast not to be reduced to a binary all-or-nothing for some accidental construct of a nation state, a particular tier of government picked out of the list entirely arbitrarily.

  • @Ian MacFadyen
    Well as xenophobia is an irrational fear of the foreign, lets look if what you are saying has any sort of modern evidence base.

    First, personal experience, I’ve lived and worked at various placed in Europe ranging from Finland in the North and Italy in the South (including a lot of points in between). In all that time I can not remember one occasion where serious hostile sentiments were expressed against another nation (maybe some p*** taking between similar nations, e.g. the Danish and Swedes – but only when in the bar together).

    Second, a lot of the previous conflicts were about empire muscle flexing and border disputes, again it is not something you really see any more. Having lived in Germany close to both the French and Belgian borders I know that there are no border tensions any more. People live on either side commuting to the other (and intermarry). Also, there are no European Empires any more (if you exclude the EU), there is no longer a need to flex those muscles.

    Saying that we are so important that us leaving may cause another Franco/German war just seems to be arrogant beyond belief, if I was sat out there and heard a Brit saying such a thing I would want to curl up under the table and hide. It is incredibly insulting to our European Cousins in both France and Germany and makes me wonder if the Lib Dems are as internationalist as they claim.

    Apologies – rant over 🙁

  • Mick Taylor 29th Feb '16 - 9:23pm

    Let’s be crystal clear about law making in the EU.

    1. The Commission does NOT make laws. It implements them as the civil service does in the UK
    2. EU law is largely made by the council of ministers on which the UK is always represented , in consultation and/or agreement with the European Parliament in which the UK has directly elected MEPs. [When the Council of ministers contains the heads of government it is known as the European Council]
    3. EU Treaties and some areas of EU law require unanimous approval by the 28 members states and some only require a ‘qualified’ majority [ in simple terms a majority of countries and a majority based on population ]. Agreement is almost always by negotiation and more often than not the UK is on the majority side.
    4. EU law makes up around 14% of the laws of the UK, not the 80% claimed by UKIP and other Brexiters.

  • Hello Michael Kilpatrick (sorry for spelling) and Ian MacFadyen, I started off writing a long point-by-point response and then thought better of it and perhaps these questions I have for you both might help you to understand my position better and get to the “nub” of my (and other people’s) concerns with the EU.

    Please respond directly to these points with preferably a yes/no answer (and then go into more detail as you wish for your yes/no answer) – if you wish to reciprocate such question types for me, please also go ahead.

    1. Do you accept that the UK voters were not explicity led to believe that they were joining a politicl union heading towards a “superstate” in the 1970s – yes or no? (I could provide more evidence to support this assertion as required)

    2. Do you accept that the end goal of the EU is a supranational state that will control (virtually) all key aspects of its states (states = previous “at least far more” sovereign countries) – yes or no?

  • 3. Do you accept that a “slow speed” option for the UK even if remaining in the EU will still ulimately end up as one of the “USA/USSR” type states in terms of independent law-making, etc. – yes or no?

    4. Do you accept that the EU is now mooting the idea of an army (originally denied by Nick Clegg vs Nigel Farage as a “dangerous fantasy”- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2IyolsVu8o and that video was from about 1 year ago) and already has its own parliament, anthem, president and flag and hence will essentially be a country with subordinate states (previous European countries) – yes or no?

    5. Would you be happy for the UK to ultimately become no more powerful and/or autonomous as is an American state for example, in relation to being able to be overruled by other countries of the EU (27 at present) and be ultimately controlled by the parliament of a new country called the “European Union”?

    6. Do you accept that the UK as the fifth biggest (approx) country in the world and with a long history of independence and power would be able to stand on years to come, without pooling its sovereignty with a new EU superstate?

    All the best.

  • Hello MIck:

    “1. The Commission does NOT make laws. It implements them as the civil service does in the UK”

    “The European Commission (EC) is the executive body of the European Union responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Commission – please comment and by what mechanism is the EU president chosen?

    “consultation and/or agreement” – one can be consulted with and not agreed with.

    “some areas of EU law require unanimous approval by the 28 members states and some only require a ‘qualified’ majority” – so the UK can in theory be outvoted on occasion.

    “EU law makes up around 14% of the laws of the UK, not the 80% claimed by UKIP and other Brexiters.” – didn’t a key politician from (probably) Germany claim far more for their country, such as 70-80% (would need to Google a source)?

    “Since records began the UK has voted against 72 laws in the Council of Ministers. It has been outvoted every single time. These laws have cost British taxpayers £2.4 billion” – please comment.

    All the best.

  • Philip, I’m not convinced the EU is heading towards a superstate and there are a number of other member states who are less than keen on excessive political integration. Your question (1) is rather too leading to give a yes/no answer to. The second question is clearly a no even if there may be some people within the EU who might wish it. I think you’ll find that the general population of the most Europhile states are not actually that keen on being subject to a monolithic superstate. Do you really think the French are less nationalistic than the British? Ha! As for “state that will control (virtually) all key aspects of its states “…that’s a ridiculously unqualified and vague notion. What aspects? The EU is never going to control planning decisions in South Cambridgeshire and neither is it going to dictate that the UK should drive on the right instead of the left.

    If you want an attempt at a qualified answer: refer to my previous comments about the excessively centralised UK state. I think the EU would have to become a *lot* more centralised than it is now for me to think it actually worse a structure than the UK itself! I’m comparing the relationship between the regions/counties of England v the UK state to the relationship between 28 member states v the EU “superstate”.

    3. Clearly not. The USA states are federal states of one sovereign nation with the President of the USA as head of state and the USSR states were simply vassal states of a Russian “mafia” (sorry, Communist Party) and I imagine their relationship to each can hardly be compared, let alone separated only by a “/”.

  • 4. Your question appears to imply a causality link between “having a flag and a president (who is not a president in anything like the sense Mr Obama)” and “become a country with subordinate states”.

    On the army question: it is entirely rational to suggest the idea of an EU army which has certain roles, but it’s not rational to suggest or imagine that such an army would ever or could ever replace or subjugate the British Army. The UK will continue to have important defence interests, relationships and requirements all over the world. It will continue to deply troop as UN peace-keeping missions or in roles such as Sierra Leone, and likely have joint ventures with the USA or others (such as the Gulf Wars). But that is not mutually exclusive with having some form of EU army *as well*, depending on what exactly the purpose of that army is.

    5. Open-ended question. You don’t specify in which areas of legislation I might be happy or not for the UK to be overruled by the EU other than a possibly vague comparison to the states of the USA.

    As for being “overruled”…is this in the same context that county of Surrey is overruled by representatives of all the other counties of the United Kingdom, in the Westminster Parliament? If Surrey constantly have differing opinions to the rest of the country, does the county declare independence?

    6. Given that the EU single market will continue to exist – I am quite sure – after a possible Brexit, then I would definitely not wish *not* to be part of a large single European market in a world dominated by the USA, China and India in 30 years time. My wealth, freedoms and quality of life will be much better served by being part of the European Union and the future of my children will be better served by being able to live, study, work and travel freely in Europe.

  • P.S. @Michael Kilpatrick and Ian MacFadyen – I appreciate you may have taken same time writing your fairly long posts – hopefully by trying to answer my questions to you with yes/no (and any follow-up comments you may have after your yes/no) and putting yes/no questions to me, that might speed up the communication.

    All the best.

  • Hello Michael – I guess my point of view in a nutshell, is the EU may appear to be trying to make a “one state Europe” (which perhaps is also potentially an initial prelude to a “one world government”) and hence by default want to destroy “the UK”: culture/autonomy, etc. – whilst they may eventually succeed, I will keep “playing for time”.

    Peace out.

  • Philip, why do you obsess over this “out-voted thing”?

    I’ve never elected my MP. I’ve always been outvoted by the rest of the constituencies I’ve lived in. There are some constituencies or entire counties or regions that have barely ever elected the government of the day. That’s called representative democracy.

    Given that the European Parliament has 751 members and the UK has the third largest number of MEPS (Germany 96, France 74, UK and Italy both 73) and that there are no fewer than 13 member states which have fewer than ONE QUARTER the number of seats the UK has, and that it would take all nine of the smallest nations together to have a voting power exactly equal to ours, what exactly is your problem with our position within this democratic parliament?

    As for the costs of the EU, which appears to be another argument of the Leave campaign: why don’t you observe that in one year’s time the Scottish Parliament, governing 8.5% of the population of the UK, will gain control of half of the 20p income tax band. The UK “superstate” will retain control over the remaining 50% of the basic rate of income tax.

    Then observe that the UK which is just a little under 10% of the total population of the EU, makes a contribution to the EU budget which is…oh, let’s look it up…. ah:

    “The EU budget stands at about 1% of the 28 EU countries’ gross domestic product.”

    The UK, with its size and wealth, pays a little more than 10% of the budget for a little under 10% of the total population.

    If Scotland were to the UK what the UK is to Europe now in terms of taxation and contributions, I wonder what part of the 20p basic rate of income tax would be taken by the UK parliament?

  • Ooops, sorry, mistake in my last post regarding EU population. The UK is more than 10% of the EU population, obviously! Which actually means we seem to be underpaying. That must be because of the rebate.

  • Ian Hurdley 1st Mar '16 - 8:58am

    We have a positive narrative to present that is not being used. I hold no brief for Cameron but what he has managed to demonstrate is how much the EU nations want Britain to remain and the concessions they are prepared to make to keep us. Ergo; “Britain can be Great again in the EU driving seat. Both France and Germany have put their stamp on an EU which creates difficulties for many of the newer and smaller members. Britain is fully aware of those difficulties and has shown its ability to get results.”

  • @Michael Kilpatrick

    I wrote a long commentary last night and it seems not to have passed the admin so far – I will quickly summarise:

    “Philip, I’m not convinced the EU is heading towards a superstate” – really? Where do you think it is heading (at high speed) and was actually heading from the very beginning (even if the citizens may not have initially been aware in the 1970s)?

    “The EU is never going to control planning decisions in South Cambridgeshire” – how do you know in 10-20 years if it might exact control directly/indrectly?

    “vassal states of a Russian “mafia”” – if the EU has total control we would be “vassals”?

    “Your question appears to imply a causality link between “having a flag and a president (who is not a president in anything like the sense Mr Obama)” and “become a country with subordinate states”.” – do not forget a (supranational) parliament and you concede an army might perhaps happen.

    “You don’t specify in which areas of legislation” – I said “key”?

    Re: “Surrey” – the county does not set national border control, etc. for the UK (obviously)

    “why do you obsess over this “out-voted thing”?” – democratic mandate?

    Re: “Scottish Parliament” – there was a referendum and they chose remain.

  • I have pasted below a contribution I made a short while ago to the LDV article yesterday on taking control of our borders; it seems relevant to the above wider debate on Brexit:

    If the Brexit folk want to take control of our borders why are they focused on net migration which is the difference between the immigrants and the emigrants? Surely the Brexit team should be focusing on controlling the numbers that come into the UK, namely the immigrants. If we check the historical flow of UK immigrants, at http://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/internationalmigration/bulletins/migrationstatisticsquarterlyreport/february2016#immigration-to-the-uk , we can see that Non-EU immigrants have consistently exceeded EU immigrants since well before the UK joined the EU and its predecessor named organisations. Indeed, since the Theresa May (Con) took control of such matters in 2010 Non-EU immigration declined to Q2 2013 and has since steadily risen, along with EU immigration. The latest immigration figures for the year to Sept 2015 show Non-EU immigration at 273,000 while the EU immigration total is 257,000.
    Now if the UK can’t or won’t reduce Non-EU immigration which they can control, why make a big deal out of EU immigration which they currently can’t control? The Brexit logic seems to undermine the Brexit case!
    Further, if taking back control of our borders regarding EU immigrants represents a return of UK sovereignty, then how do the Brexit supporters defend that a Brexit seems highly likely to lead to a break-up of the UK, with Scotland pushing again for independence? They seem to be arguing that the best way to defend UK sovereignty is by encouraging or seriously risking the break-up of the UK!

  • “Now if the UK can’t or won’t reduce Non-EU immigration which they can control, why make a big deal out of EU immigration which they currently can’t control? The Brexit logic seems to undermine the Brexit case!” – personally I favour an Australian points-based system according to requirement – numbers should be proportionate for EU/non-EU migration + a compassionate refugee policy.

    “Further, if taking back control of our borders regarding EU immigrants represents a return of UK sovereignty, then how do the Brexit supporters defend that a Brexit seems highly likely to lead to a break-up of the UK, with Scotland pushing again for independence? ” – evidence please?

  • Neil Sandison 1st Mar '16 - 12:22pm

    One o the things the leavers are banging on about is that an increase in the living wage, a national policy, will lead to a flood of economic migrants looking to take up those in work benefits .As a social liberal should we not be encouraging the other 27 nations to take up a living wage for their workers ? .The sort of policy that can only be encouraged by co-operation across national boundaries .true it would have to be geared to reflect the progress in those nations economies and the right balance in VAT rates .But it would enable those countries to retain their skilled work forces and dampen down migration purely for economic gain .

  • “What move towards a “superstate” has there been since Maastricht? Lisbon, remember only happened because the “constitution” wasn’t supported.

    Planning decisions in South Cambridgeshire – what possible UK government do you think has any desire to delegate this to the EU? Which other EU countries want to delegate planning to the EU, because I can’t think of any. And remember it can’t happen unless all 28 agree.”

    Perhpas I can quote Michael Gove – if anyone should know, it would be him, not you or I?

    “Even though we are outside the euro we are still subject to an unelected EU commission which is generating new laws every day and an unaccountable European Court in Luxembourg which is extending its reach every week, increasingly using the Charter of Fundamental Rights which in many ways gives the EU more power and reach than ever before.”

    http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/02/michael-gove-why-im-backing-leave/

  • “As a social liberal should we not be encouraging the other 27 nations to take up a living wage for their workers ? ” – I support a living wage for sure in any country :-).

  • Neil Sandison 1st Mar '16 - 1:37pm

    Once GB has committed the EU as a remaining player to a European living wage it will be easier to encourage other trading blocs to also follow a similar policy helping to lift in work poverty across the developed and developing world economies .It is a good example of where EU leverage could be directly benefit its own and other citizens .

  • Regarding Philip 1st Mar ’16 – 11:40am and his call for evidence (substantiation) about Brexit and likely Scottish calls for a second independence referendum; here is just a small sample of related links:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-35625067
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12167448/Sturgeon-EU-exit-would-almost-certainly-trigger-second-independence-referendum.html
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-35686166
    http://www.cityam.com/231838/could-a-brexit-vote-lead-to-a-second-scottish-independence-referendum
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-34291562
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6e5737f6-defa-11e5-b67f-a61732c1d025.html#axzz41fGLamIZ
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-34128939
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11666560/Brexit-referendum-will-trigger-another-Scotland-independence-vote-warns-JP-Morgan.html
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-34313377
    http://www.theweek.co.uk/scottish-independence/55716/eu-referendum-would-brexit-push-scotland-out-of-the-uk
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-35412473
    http://www.nationalia.info/new/10720/a-disunited-kingdom-welsh-and-scottish-independence-in-political-agenda-ahead-of-brexit-re
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-34277133

    I must say Philip that you seem to be leading the Brexit team on this website; I counted that you have 21 contributions out of 56 on the topic! Happy reading on checking these links and catching up on the Scottish front.

  • @Gerry M

    “Regarding Philip 1st Mar ’16 – 11:40am and his call for evidence (substantiation) about Brexit and likely Scottish calls for a second independence referendum; here is just a small sample of related links:”

    Correct me if I am wrong – I heard that the SNP budgeted to leave at $110 and the pricde is now $30/barrel – how could they leave under those circumstances?

  • “I must say Philip that you seem to be leading the Brexit team on this website; I counted that you have 21 contributions out of 56 on the topic! Happy reading on checking these links and catching up on the Scottish front.” – thanks Gerry – haha – btw politics is certainly not “all encompassing for me” – just a “means to an end”.

  • This is a man who supports the EU: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CbsKC_dWEAAryZ9.jpg .

  • (memo to self: avoid posting photos of Tony Blair)

  • Philip, I gave you a specific example of a power which none of the 28 member states would possible conceive as being appropriate to be controlled by the EU: the planning in a district such as South Cambs.

    You replied with nothing specific, just quoting Gove’s empty rhetoric. It’s quite simple absurd and you should know as well as the rest of us that subsidiarity at the heart of the EU does not let it make legislation at the EU level where it would be more appropriately controlled at a national, regional or local level. Quite simply, South Cambs planning matters are never going to be decided by the EU and you know that perfectly well.

  • Katharine Pindar 3rd Mar '16 - 9:08am

    Wonderfully enjoyable debate: thank you, Michael Kilpatrick, Ian MacFadyen and Gerry M. etc., for so much valuable information. Philip, no personal insult intended, but there are plenty of Little Englanders out there. Just one word more on the passion/vision supposedly lacking from the Remain campaign. Catching up on this thread late last night, I couldn’t sleep for thinking of all the things I love about the EU, and my sense of shared identity with Europe. Most of our ancestors came from the Continent, and we were lucky later to become part of the Roman Empire. Our shared history and culture goes on as rich as ever, from Michelangelo to Lionel Messi, from Emperor Constantine to Angela Merkel. Once English kings ruled much of France; maintenant, nous sommes Charlie Ebdo. Don’t tell me I can still visit the Continent after a Brexit, still enjoy Bach and pasta. Just don’t loosen my ties with Europe, which is also part of my birthright, for I am a European.

  • @ Katharine Pindar “We were lucky later to become part of the Roman Empire.”

    I’m not sure that would have gone down too well with women, subject peoples and the slaves – but then nobody had much of a vote then did they ?

  • Raddiy “£55 million a day” This is a myth, you have been reading too much of the rubbish peddled by UKIP! Or perhaps you write it?

  • A Social Liberal 5th Mar '16 - 1:20am

    On NATO vs EU keeping peace in Europe.

    NATO has, since it’s formation in 1949, been the military force which has, over the years, held ‘the big stick’. However, the EU has used soft power to ‘speak softly’ in many situations. Who would have imagined that after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia so many former enemies would end up wishing to join the EU together ? Who could have thought that countries on either side of the Iron Curtain would want to be economic partners?

    Finally, think on this. Two countries who have fought each other over and over again for two centuries could not stay together under the NATO umberella. Germany was a full partner whilst the French started withdrawing it’s forces from joint control just 10 years after NATOs inception, taking no part of NATO until a full 50 years after the organisation began. However, at the same time, both have played major roles in what is now the EU.

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