Harrogate Agenda countering the false EUphile scare stories about UK leaving the EU

Since yesterday evening I’ve been involved in a couple of Twitter exchanges with fellow EUsceptics about withdrawing from the EU. While you might think this would have been a meeting of minds, it was anything but.

Their views respectively were that:

  1. we should just up and leave from the EU and that the remaining member states will trade with us as if nothing happened because we are in the EEA and anyway the WTO won’t let them stop our exports to the continent, and anyway China didn’t need Article 50 to be able to trade with the EU; and
  2. that the Lisbon Treaty is illegal, politicians are traitors and the Parliamentary oath has been broken and we just need the Speaker to declare such to nullify Lisbon, so we don’t need to exit using the EU’s rules which are designed to trap us in the entity forever, and for suggesting we do I’m a EUphile

To describe the discussions with such conspiracy theorising amateur legal experts as a demoralising frustration is an understatement.  But this evening the antidote to my misery has come forth, as Richard explains the way in which the UK can leave the EU without triggering any legal challenge under EU law and without adversely affecting our trade and economic interests – the excuses given by the EUphiles for staying firmly in the EU.  As Richard writes:

… while some of the europhile claims are indeed nonsense, for a variety of technical reasons, our manufacturing output could be hard hit if we failed to negotiate a sound exit agreement.

This is why, of course, it is vital to promote a negotiated exit based on an Article 50 settlement, tied in with membership of the EEA and the nationalisation of all unadopted EU law and secondary treaties. That way, we can affirm that the day after leaving the EU nothing will have changed.

The main effect our departure would (and should) be to allow us to commence the careful process of transition from being an EU member to full independence – and also to work towards more democratic governance in the UK.

Thus, if the europhiles are going to work on the fear factor, we have all the answers. Given a hearing, we can reassure people that there is no down-side to leaving.

In fact the biggest danger to our exit comes from within the UK itself.  Not from those self professed EUsceptics who want the UK out of the EU, but who will not support an ‘Out’ campaign because they claim our membership is illegal and therefore there’s nothing to campaign against.  Rather there is a very real possibility that a prominent figure(s) aligned to or part of the Conservative Party who claims to be Eurosceptic actually support the mythical ‘renegotiation’ option where we stay in the EU and have some powers returned to us.

By talking up an option which does not exist and can never happen (repatriation of key powers while staying in the EU) because of the acquis communautaire, they play to the fear factor whipped up by the EUphiles and would undermine an ‘Out’ campaign.  This is what Richard refers to as a hijacking by a ‘false flag’ campaign and it is a realistic prospect. Observing who is supported by whom will be important. For example, if Open Europe support a ‘Eurosceptic’ be certain he/she is nothing of the sort and wants the UK to stay firmly inside the EU talking about impossible reform, for that is Open Europe’s policy.

The process Richard outlines, based upon detailed examination of the law this country is now subject to and the trading constraints that could be applied in different circumstances, would enable us to leave the EU cleanly then take the time needed as an independent nation to establish new negotiated agreements that enable us to repeal the EU laws we took with us.

This is what an ‘Out’ campaign needs to get across to the public to successfully counter and defeat the arguments the EUphiles will make in an attempt to prevent this country regaining independence.  This is the sensible, reasoned and carefully thought through argument Harrogate Agenda campaigners have developed and are advancing.  This is another reason for everyone who believes in democracy, personal freedom and independent nation states to look at the Harrogate Agenda, support it and promote it in their area.

The Harrogate Agenda offers a rational and balanced grassroots alternative to the untrustworthy political parties and the vested interests of the establishment.  I’m proud to support it and I hope all genuine democrats will too.  You can read some more about the Harrogate Agenda at the excellent Boiling Frog and Witterings from Witney.

16 Responses to “Harrogate Agenda countering the false EUphile scare stories about UK leaving the EU”

  1. 1 tallbloke 18/11/2012 at 11:53 pm

    “enable us to repeal the EU laws we took with us”

    Parliaments never waste time repealing laws. They just make up new ones which effectively supercede the old ones.

  2. 2 Autonomous Mind 18/11/2012 at 11:59 pm

    That is one of the very good reasons why the Harrogate Agenda is relevant. If you have a couple of minutes I recommend taking a look at our 6 Demands ( http://eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=83181 )to see the democratic reforms we are calling for. What you describe is a symptom of politicians representing party interests rather than the wishes of the electorate.

  3. 3 graham wood 19/11/2012 at 11:37 am

    I posted the following on Witterings from Witney:

    I fully support the ‘Harrogate Agenda’ as a worthwhile start to parliamentary reform, but as we all know to get it into “mainstream” is a problem of massive proportions.
    One first step, which may have been discussed this week-end is a decision to open up the debate via the Internet and leading blogs?

    Re Point No.1. It is good that the sovereignty of the people is reiterated and proclaimed as a political base and starting point.
    But of course Ministers and MPs have always paid lip service to this as a principle, arguing that current Parliamentary structure reflects this in regular General Elections and that therefore we have a “democracy”.

    We know that this is not true and the democracy itself is vitiated by the existing party system. Hypocritically they would still assert that power still “belongs to the people” as it always has been. So they would have no problem, in theory that is, in endorsing this first point.
    However this sovereignty of the people has historically under our own Constitution been expressed in a number of constitutional Acts which, again in theory, ensures that the ‘voice of the people’ is actually heard, and given expression, and particularly in relation to their historic freedoms wherein these are protected.
    We know this is no longer the case – which brings us to consider Point 6 – the proposal for a constitutional convention.

    Assuming for a moment that this too becomes “mainstream” to some degree in time, I think we would agree that application of a constitutional convention does itself present numbers of very big problems and ensuing questions: e.g. how long would such a process take?
    Who precisely in Parliament would be the framers of a new constitutional framework?
    Would it be left to a cross party selection from both Commons and Lords?
    Should it form a “common” Constitution for England, Scotland (assuming it remain in the Union for the moment) and Wales acronss the board?
    Would it be the aim to incorporate any new provisions into our existing Constitution?

    But the bigger question remains concerning the virtual extinction of our existing Constitution, and with it our democracy and freedoms, via deliberate erosion via EU membership, the predominance of Statutory Instruments, and a measure of arbitrary government through the tyranny of the “elected dictatorship” of the party political system which dominates Westminster, and which overrides our Constitution.

    I believe therefore that in any lengthy period of constitutional reform discussion urgent provision needs to be made to recognise and restore the sovereign status of our existing Constitutional enactments, and to insist that Parliament is bound by these enactments ( in a new binding Bill?), so that the status quo of drift and loss of liberties continue not a day longer.
    Firstly, for example, Parliament must be bound by the leading provisions of Magna Carta, in particular Articles 1 & 63, 39,40, and 42, 45, and 61 for a start.
    Also it must be bound by a full restoration of the Habeas Corpus Act (as opposed to the European Arrest Warrant)
    Third, the existing Bill of Rights (unrepealed) of 1689 must stand in all our Courts, and that the Coronation Oath Act, and Act of Settlement remain, and the supremely important Article 4 of the latter is recognised and re-stated as Constitutional law. This summarises the greater part of the spirit and intent of the whole of our existing Constitution: viz –

    “And whereas the laws of England are the birthright of the people thereof, and all the kings and Queens who shall ascend the throne of this realm ought (i.e.must) adminster government of the same according to the said laws, and ALL THEIR OFFICERS AND MINISTERS ought (must) serve them respectively according to the same……….”

    What I am saying in effect is pending any new constitutional framework to be discussed and possibly incorporated into our existing Constitution, then these Acts of constitutional importance must be recognised and applied meanwhile as law. A political and constitutional vacuum will offer no solution to our current problems.
    Well, just saying….. and hopefully beginning the debate!
    Graham Wood.

  4. 4 StrongUnitedKingdom 20/11/2012 at 11:34 am

    This is a serious matter that requires a full response:

    I would agree that there will need to be a negotiated withdrawel process with the EU however let us get the facts out here.
    1) Our current membership of the EU is illegal under our constitution.
    2) These politicians & civil servants who have worked against our country are traitors.
    3) EU member states will continue to trade with us as they need our money.
    4) WTO/EEA guarantee our ability to trade under international law.

    Before you dismiss these points as conspiracy theorising amateur legal expertise please be aware I am legally qualified and have researched this area. Your highhanded dismissal of these points based in your own lack of legal knowledge condemns your arguement under the very grounds that you seek to condemn others.

    However, on to more serious matters. Article 50 of the European Constitution is not what it appears to be at all. The Eurocracy that runs the EU has invested everything in its creation and they will stop at nothing to hold it together. Hence the extreme power they have granted themselves elswhere in the same Treaty e.g. implementation of Capital punishment in times of emergency, the ability to deploy armed forces in member states with complete immunity from criminal prosecution, the EAW, etc.

    The EU have foreseen the possibility of countries trying to leave. This will be a disaster for them and will almost definitely start a domino effect. Those that will leave will be the net contributors that fund everything including their pay, perqs, pensions and corrupt practices. Under the Art 50 process any country that invokes it is suspended from all participation in EU discussion for 2 years WHILST STILL HAVING TO PAY THEIR FULL CONTRIBUTION. This renders the state powerless to represent themselves whilst still carrying the full financail and regulatory burdens. In effect full taxation with zero representation.

    This period of time also gives the EU Commission 2 years to engineer actual problems to suit them, along with fear, uncertainty and doubt of Biblical proportions. 2 years to buy off politicians who wish to leave, or get them removed by flooding pro-EU parties with cash to challenge every action and pressurise for a vote of no confidence & general election. Where they will again apply massive cash to ensure their placed men and women are successful. Having won such an election they will declare it a triumph of democracy and a vindication of the path of the EU and then call for more centralisation of powers and increased budgets.

    Remember, the EU has packed political parties with their own people who have not allowed member states a vote on membership. Remember the introduction of the European Constitution deceitfully renamed as the Lisbon Treaty? The Nederlands and Ireland voted No and were then bought off with short term wins and made to vote again until they said yes. France voted no to the Constitution and Sarkozy denied them a second vote.

    The EU will not play nice or fair with us. We are the second largest net contributor and will become the largest ahead of Germany next year. (Source of this information Marta Andreasen UKIP MEP and former EU Accountant & Whistleblower). When we go the german people are likely to follow as they are sick of the EU (I live and work in Germany and have done for the last 13 years before you ask.) This would be catastrophic for the EU.

    Buy know you will understand that Art 50 is a sham like the rest of the money and power grabbing EU. It is designed to give them a breathing space to divert countries that wish to leave back onto the course of subservience to Brussels.

    In my view, the better way is to repeal the 1972 Act and suspend payment to the EU. This would give our govt the unequivocal power to negotiate. It would focus the EU on agreeing terms in short order and deny them the time to go behind our backs and undermine our aims.

    Yes there would need to be a negotiation. But we need to negotiate from position of strength. Yes we would need to pay our fair share of any costs incurred in trade for the period as do Switzerland and Norway. But we would agree the amount to be piad and not have it imposed on us with the threat of prolonged negotiation increasing our final bill.

    In addition, we must face the fact that long-term it will benefit the UK to see the EU collapse and have freedom and democracy returned to Europe. As long as the EU exists they will always be trying to pull us back in to it to fund it and provide it legitimacy. We are the 6th largest trading nation in the World and will grow again free from the shackles of the EU. Nothing will endanger the EU more than having a strong, free United Kingdom on their doorstep showing the other countries that life is way better without the Socialist EU millstone around their necks.

    The EU is a cancer and it must be removed or it will return and threaten our country again as soon as they can get their placemen back in power. The UK would then be in a perfect position to display its international leadership in Europe at the forefront of a League of Free Nations. Surely this is the legacy we would want to leave our children?

  5. 5 right2insight 20/11/2012 at 3:23 pm

    I much approve of your attempts to promote democracy, but I just do not find the Harrogate Agenda workable unless the following questions are answered:
    4. all legislation subject to consent. Do you provide for ANY legislation to be approved by a referendum? How is it possible then? And what is the point of the legislative bodies if all decisions are made by the majority of people? What is ‘consent is withdrawn’? Does this mean if today some project has 51 per cent approval rating, we shall adopt it as a law. And if tomorrow it is approved by only 49 %, should it be repealed?
    5. no taxes or spending without consent. It is a widely known fact that majority supports as little tax and as much spending as possible. Low taxes and high spending being approved, won’t the state increase its debts?

    These are the most serious complaints. I have some more but won’t write too much.

    P.S. My views concerning the EU being very close to yours, I ask you not to be offended by my comment. It’s better to be criticised by a friend and develop you ideas than to let real enemies attack and rip all your world-view because of several weak points in it.

  6. 6 David A. Evans 20/11/2012 at 9:19 pm


    Article 4). No, not all legislation would be subject to automatic referendum. Lack of call for a referendum by a significant proportion of the electorate, or more likely a number of counties, would be deemed approved. This is a form of consent, a referendum would be positive assent if passed.
    Article 5). The budget must balance. I agree people want as little tax as possible with as much return as possible. This is the point of article 2), most spending can be delegated to localities. Obvious exceptions would be defence and treaty negotiations.
    There is a reason for the order of these demands. None can truly be expedited without the prior demands being accepted and enacted. It’s going to be a long drawn out process and I hope I live to see a good part accomplished.


  7. 7 TheBoilingFrog 20/11/2012 at 9:25 pm

    @StrongUnitedKingdom “Before you dismiss these points as conspiracy theorising amateur legal expertise please be aware I am legally qualified and have researched this area. Your highhanded dismissal of these points based in your own lack of legal knowledge condemns your arguement [sic] under the very grounds that you seek to condemn others.”

    I’m concerned that you’re legally qualified given your consistent lack of correct spelling.

    “Under the Art 50 process any country that invokes it is suspended from all participation in EU discussion for 2 years WHILST STILL HAVING TO PAY THEIR FULL CONTRIBUTION. This renders the state powerless to represent themselves whilst still carrying the full financail [sic] and regulatory burdens.”

    Simple, we just ignore EU regulation…by the time a successfully challenge goes via the ECJ (European Court of Justice) which will take years, we’ll be long gone.

    “In effect full taxation with zero representation.”

    As opposed to……?

  8. 8 David A. Evans 20/11/2012 at 9:25 pm


    A withdrawal through article 50 is not as disastrous as you paint it.
    Theoretically, we would be liable to continue paying the EU but we could simply refuse. The process to punish is for that refusal would take more than the 2 years maximum for the process of leaving.
    Yes, the EU will still want to trade with us if we leave unilaterally and the WTO would prevent them from blocking trade theoretically. There are ways they could make things uncomfortable by insisting on us using say Italy as our portal to trade.


  9. 9 David A. Evans 20/11/2012 at 9:29 pm

    Damn you TBF! You beat me by seconds. :-P


  10. 10 right2insight 21/11/2012 at 5:05 pm

    David A. Evans 20/11/2012 at 9:19 pm
    Thank you for a proper clarification. Now I understand HA better. I see the deep disaffection with the self-serving politicians and strong desire to make them accountable. The main problem in your opinion lies in the flawed constitutional system, which creates the all-mighty parliamentary majority able to detach itself from the population. That is why its decisions don’t represent the will of the people.
    Thus you decide that if Parliament is a root of all evil, its role should be undermined: powers will be handed over to local bodies, to referenda, to prime-ministers (who will grow much more influential as a result of direct election). In the end Parliament is restricted to being an impotent body tasked with only adopting relatively uncontroversial laws and proposing something more difficult for a referendum whereas able to obstruct the activity of the Government up to not approving of ministers’ appointments (imagine Tory PM and Labour majority – a situation possible under the electoral preferences similar to those of London).
    As the HA provides for a country constitutionally more or less reminding of the USA, wouldn’t it be better just to ape the American model to the very last detail: both separation of powers and system of checks and balances. If it is against your intentions and you want in the first place to destroy the self-serving political class, I should warn that it is impossible at this time. Currently Parliament is elected democratically, regularly re-elected to respond to changing popular preferences, consists of active people, some of whom are real experts in their fields. It hasn’t got much worse, rather people’s expectations and demands have grown and the lack of accountability is now perceived too acutely. But general public can’t take all decisions: now it is too dependent on the media which will become too powerful in the system of constant referenda. And while people are ready to define the general strategy (like EU or no EU), they lack time and knowledge to assess the practical use and disadvantages of, say, UK-Chinese trade agreement or some innovative scheme of medical reforms.
    So although I support the idea of transferring more powers to local bodies and more accountable politics, I can’t help believing the Harrogate Agenda is rather an impulse to solution-seeking discussion than the solution itself.
    I myself tend to think that in the modern society democracy is impossible without profound political knowledge for all people. Without it any constitutional arrangement is doomed to be manipulated by the political class and army of crafty spindocdors, biased journalists and dishonourable civil servants.

  11. 11 David A. Evans 21/11/2012 at 9:19 pm


    I can’t help but agree with much of what you say. This is going to be a slow process.

    Many have disengaged from the political process entirely and I can’t say I blame them. As you rightly say, people are far too ignorant of political processes to be thrown in at the deep end. I think you’re wrong about the media, their influence is declining and much in them is just sleb pap.

    In this predominantly Labour constituency I’m beginning to see a bit of cynicism creeping in, not just about the political parties, but also about what they’re told by the meeja.

    I would hope that given a glimpse of the chance of power, the demos would start to educate themselves and realising they are not getting the truth from their papers and the Beeb et al, start using the internet and blogs where they know they can gather all viewpoints. They already appreciate the bloated civil service and those not tribally blinded see that cuts when made are always where they will do most harm. Maybe it’s misplaced but I think I trust our public to make, in the main, good decisions.

    You are obviously right about the nuts & bolts of implementation being out of reach of the man in the street, that’s what we employ the politicos & civil servants for, but they’d damned well better get it right because we’re watching them.


  12. 12 StrongUnitedKingdom 22/11/2012 at 9:08 am

    TBF – Yes upon review of my comment there were 3 typos, so mea culpa. My typing was not perfect and I should have taken the time to review it more carefully. Pedantry aside, my points and the facts remain.

    Your wishful thinking of we can just ignore the regulations and treaties and the problem will just go away with time is fanciful. The issues will all need addressing completely to shut this current relationship down and avoid the exit process dragging on for years.

    We currently have taxation without representation, however it will not strengthen our negotiating position to be excluded from all EU discussions and processes whilst still being subject to all regulations and contributions.

  13. 13 TheBoilingFrog 22/11/2012 at 3:06 pm

    @StrongUnitedKingdom “Your wishful thinking of we can just ignore the regulations and treaties and the problem will just go away with time is fanciful. The issues will all need addressing completely to shut this current relationship down and avoid the exit process dragging on for years.”

    I was referring to your comment that we would be suspended from all future EU negotiations (and I quote)

    “…any country that invokes it is suspended from all participation in EU discussion for 2 years WHILST STILL HAVING TO PAY THEIR FULL CONTRIBUTION”

    Firstly so what? The suspension applies to internal EU law not ‘suspension’ over talks over exit.

    In terms of internal EU law, being a member means we have little influence over EU policy anyway which is precisely the reason we want to leave. The problem regarding EU regulations – in terms of new ones – applying, that is irrelevant because we will, after 2 years, exit if we invoke Article 50.

    I’m not hoping the problem goes away ‘a la ostrich in sand’. I’m dealing with pragmatics. There is a 2 year negotiation period under Lisbon, if we ignore new internal EU law during that period it can be dragged out so that it will take much longer to come to a conclusion; the average time for ECJ judgements is 19 months…therefore it’s no problem to drag it out so we can ignore it as a consequence of our exit.

    We also have to invoke Article 50 – it is an obligation under International law – whether you like it or not. We have no choice. The EU will not listen to us unless we invoke Article 50 – that in international law is their obligation… they will be forced to talk to us. Article 50 means they have to negotiate a new settlement with a potentially independent UK under international trade agreements.

    Simply exiting on any other terms would make us the international bad boy not the EU.

  14. 14 David A. Evans 23/11/2012 at 8:08 pm

    Something you missed TBF.
    We may not be allowed in the EU negotiations for internal law but as the EU is often just a conduit for agreements made Worldwide by committees we already have a seat at, we would still in fact have a say.


  15. 15 David A. Evans 23/11/2012 at 8:10 pm

    An interesting analysis of what goes wrong with urban culture from the Chiefio


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