Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Peter vs Peter

Be careful what you wish for!

I had scarcely posted the intention to "give both sides the maximum opportunity to produce positive arguments which might influence my decision."

and added that it

"Would be a nice change from too much of what I have seen if they did ... "

when I found links to two quite good articles - one supporting Remain and one from a pro-Brexit MP who knows a lot about trade pointing out some facts about trade agreements.

Peter Marshall has written a pro-Remain piece which was interesting enough that Paul Goodman at Conservative Home (which is firmly pro-leave) thought it worth publishing.

Peter Lilley MP, a former Secretary of State for Trade and industry, has written a piece about the significance of trade deals (he argues that they are not as vital as people might think) in relation to the economic arguments around EU membership.

Peter Marshall's article, "BREXIT is not a policy. It is not even a scenario. It is just a grievance," does not, as you can probably gather from the title, pull any punches.

However, it reads to me as an argument from someone who is a Eurosceptic but not a Europhobe.

Here are some extracts to give a flavour of Peter Marshall's arguments. Referring to Steve Hilton's opinion that David Cameron might, were he not Prime Minister, be supporting "Leave" but “as Prime Minster he sees it from a different perspective, which is perfectly reasonable,”

Marshall argues that this is not an argument for Leave, saying

"If you are responsible for the affairs of a great nation, you have to accept that tiresome realities are apt to stand in the way of adopting good ideas.

That is why we must Remain.

If you want to operate effectively in a big international organisation, you have to occupy what can in academic-speak be called the analytical heights. You have to know in detail what you are talking about, and, not less important, what your partners are talking about. You have to feel that you are at least a part owner of the enterprise. You do not get what you want by threatening to make for the exit unless you do.

We are on the inside, and much more than just on the inside, in the Commonwealth, the United Nations, NATO, the OECD, the Council of Europe – in every case except the EU, where we have all too often been market takers rather than market makers. During the Blair/Brown administrations we just played cop-out, most notably over the Lisbon Treaty, which has predictably been the cause of so much of the trouble.

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, in its report on Foreign Policy Aspects of the Lisbon Treaty quoted me as describing the EU as “the world’s principal under-performing asset”. I also assailed the Blair government for caving in on the discussion of the Treaty as a whole: “the Government’s role in the preparation of the Treaty was effectively reduced to a damage limitation exercise of drawing red lines around what were judged to be key UK interests…a strategy which just leaves the field to others to get their way at your expense”.

It was freely prophesied at that time that the 2010 House of Commons would be the most Eurosceptic ever. Indeed it was, until it was outdone by the result of the 2015 General Election. There is now more than a whiff of Europhobia. Segments of the Conservative Party seem to have stopped the clock as from 2010. Hence the failure to recognise the transformation which has already taken place since then: the Referendum Lock, the Balance of Competences Review, clipping the EU Budget’s wings, and the consolidation of Britain as de facto the principal EU think tank.

The unique role on offer to us in the European Council agreement reached in February was dismissed by Brexit as anywhere between insulting and derisory, coupled with dire warnings that if we vote to remain we will be “prisoners of the EU bosses’ agenda”. No-one who knows anything about how to operate in international organisations would accept for a moment such a ridiculously defeatist proposal."

You can read the whole article here.

Peter Lilley's article on trade agreements can be read on his website here.

To balance the other Peter's contribution, here are some extracts from Peter Lilley's previous article,

"I respect the PM but I'm voting to leave."

"When David Cameron invites you into No 10 to discuss your concerns he can be immensely persuasive. His courtesy and frankness are disarming; his grasp of detail, impressive. Last time he persuaded me to shift my position on bombing Syria.  I hoped on Tuesday he would overcome my concerns about remaining in a largely unreformed EU.
In 1975 I campaigned to remain in – and made the beautiful Secretary of ‘Keep Britain in Europe' my wife! I did an apprenticeship in France, have a holiday home there, chaired a small German company, worked in the Netherlands and Belgium, and speak French.  So I love Europe – but not the EU, without fundamental reform.
Some have suggested the largely inconsequential outcome of David Cameron's negotiations means he is a closet Europhile or a weak negotiator. He convinced me that neither accusation is true. He is our most euro-sceptic Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher's last term and a determined negotiator. The insubstantial outcome reveals all the more powerfully the intransigence of the EU establishment.
I am a gradualist by temperament - not one of those content with nothing less than immediate and complete restoration of sovereignty.

Viewed overall, what would Britain's position be if the UK electorate decides to remain in the EU on these slightly modified terms? Clearly we have abandoned the "heart of Europe" strategy. If that meant paying enthusiastic lip service on the continent to the European Project, the very existence of which we denied at home – so much the better.  Supporting measures we did not want so as to win influence to prevent them happening was never a credible strategy.   We have voted against 72 EU measures and lost every time.
Instead we would be adopting the "appendix of Europe" strategy. The appendix is the one bit of the anatomy, left over from evolution, which serves no function. Likewise, our membership no longer serves any function in a body whose primary purpose (political union) we reject, whose main projects (the Euro and the Schengen Area) we are not part of, whose laws we find onerous and whose economic attractions have turned into economic costs.
The alternative is to leave. That was not my initial position. Given my preference for gradualism, I was concerned whether it might involve disruption. But closer study convinces me that it can be done smoothly. There are plenty of precedents for countries leaving far closer unions than the EU – Ireland leaving the UK, Dominions like Australia, Canada and India acquiring independence. I asked President Klaus whether splitting Czechoslovakia in two was long and difficult.  He replied "simpler than you think - dividing our monetary union took a weekend, separating our countries, a bit longer". 

I respect David Cameron's views and sincerity as I believe he does mine. Maybe he failed to convince me because I have heard too many assurances that European political integration has peaked or that Britain has erected barriers to it - only to see the tide flood in and the barriers washed away. Only if we leave can we regain control of our laws, our money and our borders."

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