Saturday, July 02, 2016

Booker backs "Flexcit"

Christopher Booker is a veteran critic of the European Union who probably did far more over a period of decades to build the case against the EU than Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove put together.

Which makes his article in the Telegraph today, "We have entered EU purgatory, exit might mean heaven or hell" all the more interesting

He points out that

"The truth is that the campaigns by both sides in the referendum were horribly caught out by the result, because neither had any plan for what to do next. David Cameron chose not to have an exit plan because he was convinced his Project Fear would carry the day."

"Vote Leave rejected any exit plan because, as they repeatedly showed during the campaign, they hadn’t done their homework, they couldn’t agree on a plan and they just hoped they could wing it in the unlikely event of their winning."

He goes on to argue that

" ... the only sensible way forward is to ensure that we remain fully part of the single market as a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), so that leaving the EU does not disrupt our trade with the EU in any way.

The relevant image is that of a snakes and ladders board. Recognising Article 50 as the only way to start our two-year negotiations to leave merely puts us on square one of the board. To reach the goal of a satisfactory settlement requires correctly negotiating 99 more squares, with plenty of snakes and ladders intervening."

The option he urges whoever leads Britain's exist negotiations to adopt,

"is that exhaustively set out in Flexcit, the blueprint produced by the Leave Allliance, which has been much pored over in Whitehall in recent weeks."

I am pleased to read that the Flexcit plan, which you can read at

is being "much pored over in Whitehall" - I hope this is true because this strikes me as the only coherent plan which anyone on the Leave side put forward and the best way to implement the majority decision to leave the EU in a way which carries the least risk of serious damage to the British economy.

Booker goes on:

On invoking Article 50 we should begin our negotiations mindful that we are already in the EEA where, outside the EU, we intend to remain. This, along with an application to rejoin the European Free Trade Area, gives us an immediate, off-the-shelf solution to the trading problem. Furthermore, under Article 112 of the EEA Agreement, we would also have the unilateral right to claim a partial opt-out from the EU’s freedom of movement rules, allowing us to set up an (albeit generous) quota system to control immigration from other countries in the EU.

All this is the biggest “ladder” on the board we could hope for, because it solves two of the most obvious problems at once.

Booker concludes

"We have entered far more dangerous waters than most people realise. We need all the clear thinking and proper understanding of the rules which was so woefully lacking from the Vote Leave campaign, but which the cooler-headed Theresa May seemed to be offering when she said that “Brexit means Brexit”. 

The only possible way to navigate to the top of that snakes and ladders board, and to give the British people the goal they voted for on June 23 is the first option above. 

Let us hope those civil servants who have been studying Flexcit will find that it is the way out of the labyrinth into which, for the right if not fully understood reasons, we have now placed ourselves."

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