Sunday, December 18, 2016

Booker on Brexit

Interesting to see that some people with absolutely impeccable Eurosceptic credentials, such as Christopher Booker, are not joining the "let's have a competition to see who can be most hardline" calls for a so-called "Hard Brexit."

Incidentally I am not trying to score a "leave versus remain" point here, there is an equally unfortunate "let's see who can be most hardline" competition among some remain supporters.

Britain is a very divided nation and the first thing we really have to recognise is that both the 52% of voters who supported "Leave" and the 48% of voters who backed "Remain" had valid and genuine concerns, as many as possible of which the government must try to respect.

We really have to move on from the insults and prejudice which has too often characterised each side's reaction to the other. YouGov did a very interesting study published a couple of days ago called

"Why the other half vote"

which made all too clear that there is a great deal of misunderstanding on both sides.

The vast majority of Leave voters are not ignorant or stupid or racist - many of them were motivated by concerns other than immigration and even those who did vote to leave because of immigration mostly were not opposed to all immigration of any kind but had legitimate reasons to regard the present level of migration as unsustainable, reasons which cannot fairly be characterised as racist.

Equally the vast majority of Remain supporters care about Britain and do not hate or talk down their own country, and although Britain has not yet, and I hope will not, suffered most of the more cataclysmic consequences which a few of the more alarmist Remain campaigners predicted that Brexit might cause, the remain side had legitimate reasons for concern about the economy, the impact of Brexit on Universities, on international relations in general and on Ireland and Gibraltar in particular. The only one of those concerns which has so far been disproved is that the mere vote might cause an immediate recession.

Polls suggest that the majority of remainers, like myself, accept that the outcome of the referendum means that Britain will leave the EU. But there is a great deal of room for legitimate debate about what sort of relationship with the rest of the EU Britain should negotiate for when we leave, and although there are headbangers and absolutists on the extremes of both sides, there is a great deal of scope for more moderate remainers and more moderate leavers to find common ground on how Britain should manage our departure from the EU.

Which brings me back to my starting point: I was fascinated to read Christopher Booker's column in which, dismissing the "hard Brexit" strategy as "unworkable" he calls for Britain to rejoin the European Free Trade Area, or EFTA which the UK was instrumental in setting up a few years before I was born.

A good place to read Christopher Booker's column is a post by Richard North, which starts by quoting the Booker article in its entirety, on the EU Referendum blog here.

I don't pretend to know whether the rules allow us to rejoin EFTA and whether the impact would be quite as smooth as Christopher Booker thinks. But I do know that this precisely the sort of constructive thinking that the government should be, and I believe is, considering.


Jim said...

"A good place to read Peter Booker's column is on Peter North's blog here which has a few additional comments from Doctor North."

Thinking this sentence is a mix up of sources, or maybe a copy/paste error.

Booker is Christopher Booker,

Dr Richard North, hosts EU and is Bookers main researcher, the two also co-authored a book "the great deception"

Peter North is Dr Richard Norths son and he also runs a blog at called Pete Norths Politics blog

Jim said...

also on Dr Richard North, whilst he can appear very, lets say, confrontational, to many people, the sources are always listed and one can follow his trail, and see the background behind his writings.

As well as being the chief author of Flexcit, he also has a seris of "monographs" linked at the top of the EU Referendum site, which are all very well worth reading.

Chris Whiteside said...

Thank you Jim, I had jumbled the names up and have now corrected the error.