Memo to Nigel Farage: This is why detail matters

When one doesn’t do detail, a bit like a certain Nigel Farage, one is liable to get things wrong.  When one gets things wrong, it is difficult for people to have confidence in what one has to say – particularly when it comes to presenting details of how a particular aim, say, leaving the EU, can be achieved.

While it might not matter much to some people that Farage wrongly stated Sinn Féin’s policy on European Union membership, his high profile means that such errors are not merely a personal embarrassment for him, but are damaging to the credibility of the rest of us who want the UK to leave the EU.

As this blog has argued before, to indignation from some of his supporters, Farage’s ‘cheeky chappie, bloke you would be happy to have a pint with’ persona will only get UKIP so far in electoral terms.  Many undecided and non-voters are more sophisticated than many people give them credit for and will form any voting intentions based on the competence, character and credibility of a candidate or party leader.  If Farage won’t do detail and get his facts right, he won’t just earn the scorn of his rivals, he will be rejected by potential supporters who would have grounds to doubt his claims and question his suitability for office.

UKIP and the true Eurosceptic movement deserve better.

46 Responses to “Memo to Nigel Farage: This is why detail matters”

  1. 1 Steve 13/05/2013 at 1:50 pm

    Completely agree with you AM..

    UKIP (i.e. Nige) is notorious for not “doing detail”, but it’s going to need to if the Tories (stung after the locals) will place their “policies” under extreme scrutiny. They won’t withstand even cursory examination, much less deep analysis.

    I tried to tell them what was in a political party policy document during my time, and was completely ignored. A political party policy has 4 main parts:

    1) What you thing is wrong (and why); (education, defence, health etc)
    2) What you think should happen (and why)
    3) How you’re going to achieve it (change structure, cut waste, new Act, etc)
    4) How much it will cost, where that money will come from, and a timescale.

    It will require people with good memories and research skills poring over tons if dry political info and stats, but this is the stuff of big politics.

    I don’t understand the Farage-fest in the media; the local elections were totally within the purview of branches, to the exclusion of higher levels of the party.

    Until the party leadership embrace what you’ve said, whole-heartedly, and implement it throughout the party, they will go nowhere. It will make the results of the 2nd look like protest voting, even though I don’t think it was.

    The Tories will be all out to destroy to destroy UKIP to try and gain ground in the Euro’s (parliamentary elections) in June next year. They will pull no punches.

  2. 2 Dan 13/05/2013 at 2:33 pm

    I can forgive him that mistake. Sinn Fein’s policy is a load of old cobblers…an EU of Equals. What the fk is that anyhow?
    They’ll say anything rather than be honest about in or out.

  3. 3 Autonomous Mind 13/05/2013 at 2:51 pm

    How is the SF policy a load of cobblers? It’s clear that they want the EU to remain in being and they want Ireland to remain in the EU. We might disagree with the policy, but that doesn’t make it cobblers.

    I’m sure Nigel will be grateful for your attempt at a defence, but increasingly people like you and the Faragista will find it harder to defend him as scrutiny increases and his lack of grasp of the subject leads to more errors of this kind, or worse.

  4. 4 Sean O'Hare 13/05/2013 at 3:15 pm

    From the Sinn Féin website:

    “We want to build a Europe of Equals – a true partnership of equal sovereign states, co-operating in social and economic development in Europe and beyond”

    I think even UKIP could sign up to that.

  5. 5 Halinof 13/05/2013 at 3:44 pm

    I think once tthey win their first M in the coming by-election it will be less about Farage and more about UKIP, we’re talking about two different thing here. Farage is *not* UKIP, he is one man, UKIP would have lived on after his plane crash and might well be put to the test again, who knows how the EU operates when in a tight corner.

    Once the MPs begin to get elected and defect that’ll be it for Nigel’s stranglehold.

  6. 6 Eddy 13/05/2013 at 5:32 pm

    The one policy UKIP need to have nailed down is how we leave the EU. They have had over a decade to formulate such a policy. They still don’t have anything.

  7. 7 Dan 13/05/2013 at 5:34 pm

    Of course it’s a load of cobblers. They want an Ireland of Equals too …. Until you ask them what that means and what it means is an Ireland where any vestiges of British culture is tolerated only on their say so and on negotiation to obtain their agreement. They get away with that crap because no-one apart from NI’s majority are troubled by it but let them try that spiel Europe-wide, see how far they get.

  8. 8 Bellevue 13/05/2013 at 6:13 pm

    An EU of equals??? well, best of luck with that, Sinn Fein.
    Have you guys spoken to anyone in Cyprus recently?

  9. 9 Audrey Quattro 13/05/2013 at 8:00 pm

    Considering all the b0ll0x most of our elected representatives speak on a daily basis I think it’s a bit ripe to centre on Farage all the time. Politicans are ALL the same – do you seriously mean that it’s ONLY Farage that speaks b0ll0x? Cameron does it on a daily basis. Boris? Picking on the ONE person who offers even the slightest chance of affecting change in policy (whatever that may end up to be) is too much like shooting the messenger. One could be forgiven for thinking you are a closet EU supporter AM, trying to muddy the waters in an attempt to derail the ONLY anti-EU party currently in existence. If the Harrogate Agenda were even a footnote in any MSM, a glimmer in the publics eye, a visibly credible alternative RIGHT NOW then I could see your point. But it isn’t. We run with what we have – even if it does end in failure. Or are you actually ‘hoping’ Farage fails?

  10. 10 Mark B 13/05/2013 at 8:40 pm

    Funny how nationalist parties like Sinn Fein, Plaid Cymru and the SNP all want to throw off the ‘yoke’ of British/English Imperialism, but are happy to embrace EU Political Imperialism for the sake of a few Euro’s. Out of the pot and into the fire, as the saying goes.

    Sinn Fein’s vision of a EU of equals may indeed come true. But they may find, some will be more equal than others.

  11. 11 grahamwood32 13/05/2013 at 9:38 pm

    Eddy: “The one policy UKIP need to have nailed down is how we leave the EU. They have had over a decade to formulate such a policy. They still don’t have anything.”

    I suggest the issue is, in the light of the prevailing deep splits within the Tory party, and pending a referendum , unlikely before 2017 at the earliest, somewhat premature.

    But, I think there are two options for the UK when the time comes. 1. By invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which permits a member state to secede from the Union, or,
    2. The far cheaper (!) and quicker option of repealing the 1972 European Communites Act (gateway for nearly all EU law) by Parliament.

  12. 12 PeterMG 13/05/2013 at 10:01 pm

    AM I agree with you. What we desperately need is a charismatic political leader who both knows how to delegate and accept help, and is into detail. No one is perfect, and it is often said that the best leaders don’t do detail. But I believe this is bollox and that when real change or progress is needed all the best leaders are hot on detail. Those light on detail and considered good leaders are often those who lead in good time often jumping ship just before it hits the rocks. Think Tony Blair or Lord Brown of BP.

    Look around today; do we see that person? Not in a high profile position that is for sure. So we must accept that unless there is a coup d’état in the Tories and someone come out of the woodwork we are in for at least 5 more years of muddle. Doing detail means accepting full responsibility, which means you don’t consider your own skin before those you serve and requires a degree of courage.

    Three wartime leaders spring to mind, Hugh Dowding and Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park are two along with Air Chief-Marshal Harris. There must be others but most of those at the top of the army and Navy are still even today too political to be effective leaders. Even Churchill was prone to dropping subordinates in it who had once done his bidding.

    Margret Thatcher was typical of the type we need, warts and all, because the talking heads such as Cameron, millipede & Clegg just get nothing done.

  13. 13 Autonomous Mind 13/05/2013 at 11:08 pm

    Oh dear, Audrey. How very original. Speak against the blessed Nigel and one must automatically a closet EU supporter.

    If you had any political nous you would see Farage is the biggest threat to a successful extraction from the EU. He is destructive, he is a liability waiting to implode, the media has enough material on him to undermine the whole withdrawal campaign, he is unwilling or incapable of explaining ‘how’ this country can be independent and still preserve its economic interests – which is why Graham Wood below still seems to think repealing the 1972 ECA is a cheap and quick method of leaving the EU. Thanks to Farage not doing details, much less sharing them with others, many people still think this even though it would cripple our ability to trade with the continent.

    And just today, despite recent insistence that the idea of Farage doing a deal with the Tories was a lie, we’ve had Farage out there talking up the idea of UKIP endorsing Tory candidates, which means UKIP won’t be running their own. They will be supporting the very opposition that has kept this country locked in the EU and refused people their democratic say.

    For the sake of UKIP yes, I hope Farage personally fails.

  14. 14 Steve 13/05/2013 at 11:26 pm

    Again, well said AM.

    Farage is only interested in the money, as we’ll soon find out on Channel 4.

  15. 15 grahamwood32 14/05/2013 at 8:57 am

    AM you say: “which is why Graham Wood below still seems to think repealing the 1972 ECA is a cheap and quick method of leaving the EU.

    It is indeed my view and perfectly logical and a legitimate view to take, in line with our Constitution (indeed obligatory!), and fully available to any future UK Parliament.
    Perhaps you will explain why you do not concur?

  16. 16 Autonomous Mind 14/05/2013 at 12:39 pm

    Graham, the repeal of the ECA does nothing to protect the UK’s interests. The mechanism for leaving the EU, which none of the europhiles thought would ever be used, is Article 50. For too long the likes of Farage have argued the repeal of the ECA is all that is needed, but without Article 50 the UK would be in breach of a raft of legal obligations and this would impact our ability to trade.

  17. 17 grahamwood32 14/05/2013 at 2:17 pm

    AM Thanks for your brief reply. Nobody claims that repealing the ECA is a magic wand to “protect the UK’s interests – it is simply one of two mechanisms by which we leave.
    I believe that the tedious arguments about Article 50 are time wasting and irrelevant, and putting the cart before the horse.
    In this vein I posted on Richard’s blog:

    Quote: (In response to Richard)
    “Surely … one cannot divorce the method by which we extract ourselves from the EU from the campaign to achieve that end. The one will decide the other.”

    Once again, I believe you are missing the point. The method or mechanism of our exit is important only when the political decision to leave has been made – as you yourself have pointed out in your comments.
    I repeat that quoting Article 50 to Mr average voter in any campaign will leave him staring blankly with incomprehension. He couldn’t care a fig how his government gets out, as long as it does so by any legitimate means. In effect that could mean either the Article 50 route or repeal of the ECA. Both are available options, but as we know, the latter would have to be undertaken at some point anyway.

    But tell him that your party has decided to leave the EU and will campaign on that is surely the primary objective and will garner the support or opposition in a future In/Out referendum. Repeating Article 50 ad nauseam is comparable to discussing the best exit from a burning house – shall we use the front door or the back, or maybe the first floor window ?

    Surely then, the vital point is that Article 50 cannot be invoked without first declaring to party and country and then EU (in that order) that the political decision to leave has been made. In other words, a public declaration of change of policy and of intent. We know that Cameron’s policy is to stay in despite his bogus “negotiation” stance – and therefore he is never going to resort to discussion of Article 50 is he?

    This must be, in part at least, why UKIP is gaining electoral popularity, for it cannot all be down to disenchantment with the three main parties. People know where UKIP stands and are attracted to it as the only alternative for their political aspirations

  18. 18 Autonomous Mind 14/05/2013 at 2:33 pm

    The point I believe you’re missing, Graham, is that repealing the ECA changes absolutely nothing in terms of obligations we have to hold up, whereas Article 50 prompts a negotiation that enables the UK to agree the terms of trade, free movement of people and goods, etc.

    The push to repeal the ECA plays perfectly into the hands of the FUD mongers on the europhile side, who can then justifiably argue that it would leave Britain in a limbo that has the capacity to seriously damage business and trade and ultimately our economy.

    It’s no use arguing, as some fools like Torquil do, that it will be ok because Germany will still want to sell us Mercedes cars and Bosch power tools. Mercedes and Bosch cannot sell into the UK if to do so would break EU law. Period. Article 50 is not a sideshow, it is the key to open the lock and protecting our interests as we stage an orderly and tidy withdrawal from political union while remaining part of the single market.

  19. 19 grahamwood32 14/05/2013 at 5:50 pm

    AM The central point is that any appeal to Article 50 is highly premature, and dependent entirely on a political decision and declaration by a UK government FIRST to formally leave the EU. Unless and until that decision is made then the mechanism for our exit via Article 50 remains hypothetical and remote.

    That is of course not to factor in as yet any referendum and its outcome which would decide the political decision. In terms of time scale on present calculations this would not be at least until 2017 – that is why any political party in that intervening period would be a hostage to fortune.
    Meanwhile the political landscape will no doubt change repeatedly.
    I repeat therefore the whole exercise in terms of serious discussion at this stage is entirely premature.

  20. 20 Autonomous Mind 15/05/2013 at 5:52 am

    And I repeat Article 50 is the only formal mechanism that allows us to negotiate an exit which secures terms for a relationship with the EU once we have broken free of it.

    Repealing the ECA does not do that, instead it only risks bringing us into breach of treaty and legal obligations, which can only be addressed in a negotiation – which in turn will only be forced by invoking Article 50 because the other EU member states can refuse all other attempts to initiate a negotiation, which Hollande and Merkel have already signalled. Farage is finally waking up to this and Helmer is already there.

    I appreciate you want neat and tidy. But reality doesn’t always work that way.

  21. 21 Eddy 15/05/2013 at 8:50 am

    Well said AM. “Repealing the ECA does not do that, instead it only risks bringing us into breach of treaty and legal obligations.,,,” And the first question that will be asked about this course is what will happen to those treaties and obligations.

  22. 22 grahamwood32 15/05/2013 at 10:56 am

    Eddy ““Repealing the ECA does not do that, instead it only risks bringing us into breach of treaty and legal obligations.,,,” And the first question that will be asked about this course is what will happen to those treaties and obligations.”

    I disagree. Repealing the ECA per se does not bring us into “breach” of anything. It initiates the beginning of a process of decoupling from the European Union. All EU treaties, directives, and other impositions would be null and void, and that process would then begin in an orderly and systematic fashion (that is what we have a civil service for)
    What Parliament has “done”, can be undone under our Constitution.
    No parliament can therefore bind its successors.
    We are not “obliged” to take the route prescribed for us by the EU.
    In any event, invoking Article 50 would initiate the same process, only after an elongated process of “negotiation” with those who have every need and intention to keep us chained to the EU (still twitching) corpse.

    Incidentally, we would them begin to IMMEDIATELY return to the British taxpayers the money stolen from them by successive British governments and given to the EU – in mere membership fees alone this is £53 Million per day , nett or £8.8 Billion p.a. In addition the EU’s trading deficit with the UK is about £4 Billion a month!
    Please wake up! You may not wish to reverse that situation, but those more politically and economically savvy do – and will!

  23. 23 Autonomous Mind 15/05/2013 at 12:47 pm

    Graham, either you don’t ‘get it’ or you do but refuse to accept it because it would mean changing your argument. You said:

    “We are not “obliged” to take the route prescribed for us by the EU.
    In any event, invoking Article 50 would initiate the same process, only after an elongated process of “negotiation” with those who have every need and intention to keep us chained to the EU (still twitching) corpse.”

    Like it or not we are legally part of the EU, so as it happens we are obliged to take the prescribed route to exit. The consequences of not doing so, which in three separate comments you have skillfully avoided addressing in any way, is what happens to this country economically when we place ourselves in legal breach of what this country has been signed up to. Anyone who is ‘politically and economically savvy’ would understand this.

    Without a negotiation, which is absolutely necessary to agree the rules of our ability to export to the EU and which enable companies in EU member states to export to us, simply walking away will see us buried in an damaging avalanche of prosecutions, tariffs, export restrictions, and so on.

    Repealing the ECA does not bring the EU to the negotiating table. We cannot force an Intergovernmental Conference, and they can simply refuse to talk to us about trade, free movement, etc. Article 50 is the only way the EU can be forced into negotiating terms that enable this country to exit the union while protecting our economic interests, because the rules state they are obliged to talk when the Article is invoked.

    Just saying ‘We don’t consider ourselves EU members any longer’ doesn’t do us any favours. It would be tantamount to economic suicide.

    The moment you make such a declaration we would not be entitled to export to the customs union, use any port we choose to ship goods, etc. Businesses would be falling over within days. The inevitable trade disputes that would follow would also be devastatingly costly (and impact exports to non EU countries where the deals have been negotiated on our behalf by the EU… such as the forthcoming one with the USA) and the World Trade Organisation would back the EU simply because we had breached the rules and mechanisms the UK signed up to.

    If even Farage is finally starting to understand this, why do you struggle with it?

  24. 24 grahamwood32 15/05/2013 at 2:46 pm

    AM There is probably little point in pursuing the Article 50 point much further.
    It remains distant and remote as a practical reality unless and until a British government declares its intention to leave the EU – as you know.
    No UK political party at present has any intention of doing so – as you also know. In any event the possibility remains years away.

    However, the same Article 50 clearly stiplates that a unilateral exit is quite possible for the UK in that it may do so in accordance with its own constitutional requirements” That includes of course the power and authority of Parliament to repeal the Act. That would then be our law.
    Are you asserting that this is somehow illegal or improper?

    I would rather believe Ashley Mote (long serving MEP for the SE) than any of our politicians or other theorists re Article 50:
    He said, I believe rightly, the following:

    “-Using Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty as a means of leaving – as Christopher Booker argues (12 May) – would lead us straight into the bureaucrats’ carefully laid honey-trap, as one of them was honest enough to tell me during negotiations. Article 50 is about being told, after two years of discussions exclusively amongst the other members, what our terms of leaving would be. We would then have to accept the EU’s terms or withdraw the application to leave”.

    By repealing the ECA ’72 we are immediately free in legal terms which is all that matters. Over 100,000 pages of secondary legislation (Statutory Instruments) fall simultaneously.
    Two serious issues linger, however. First, it would be essential for the then UK government to declare a moratorium on any contracts or other legal agreements based on now repealed Statutory Instruments, to allow the various parties involved to negotiate new terms in an orderly fashion under UK law.
    Secondly, all UK primary law enacted in compliance with EU directives should be subject to a similar moratorium for a specific period while an orderly series of repeals or amendments are made in the best interests of the British people.

    International treaties would take more to unravel – but that would be the case either way.

  25. 25 Autonomous Mind 15/05/2013 at 5:17 pm

    All this unilateral stuff completely ignores reality of the need to trade within terms that have been agreed and are legally binding. Of course we could leave unilaterally, but we would leave with nothing and suffer greatly while going back cap in hand begging to negotiate access to the single market again.

    So tell me what happens when you make your UDI and are powerless to force any negotiation. Then in the vacuum before any negotiation explain what happens to our exports that cannot be landed on the continent and the businesses that cannot sell their goods because nothing has been agreed with the EU states.

    Then, explain how you will negotiate under UK law and ignore the need to consider EU law. You are deluded if you think we can just impose terms and the EU states will accept them. We can’t do that in other trading relationships, so what makes you think we could do it with this one? Oh I can’t be bothered pointing to the holes you refuse to see.

    Fact it you’ve got it arse about face, but that’s only to be expected listening to a fool like Ashley Mote. The most damaging thing here is that you actually confirm the worst fears of the business community, that our trade with the EU states would be severely damaged if we left, because the model you are following does not satisfy what our economy needs to take place.

    There’s no point pursuing this. Like Mote you are impervious to reason. You think you have a silver bullet, but the only thing you will do with it is shoot yourself in the head. You have confirmed exactly what I presumed before this exchange took place.

  26. 26 grahamwood32 15/05/2013 at 6:03 pm

    AM In economic terms a UDI as you put it would revolutionise our whole economic prospects. Two factors are important:

    1. We would immediately be free to negotiate bi-lateral trading agreements with rising economies world-wide – something which EU membership does not allow at present. We would progressively restore our global reach, so that never again would we experience the staggering monthly deficit in our trading with the EU. (In 2011 for example this reached nearly £50 Billion!)

    2. The same article REQUIRES the EU to seek a free trade deal with a member which leaves. Greenland established a precedent for a sovereign nation by leaving the EEC in 1985, and is prospering well outside of it.
    So talk of “leaving with nothing and suffering greatly” is absolute nonsense.
    We happen (still amazingly) to be the EU’s “best customer” and trading partner – do you seriously believe that all this would suddenly cease and that this is not to our mutual advantage. In that point Farage is absolutely right – the Germans and French will still need our market.

    Finally you state: “Then, explain how you will negotiate under UK law and ignore the need to consider EU law.” I have answered in both points above.
    Once we leave “EU law” will no longer apply in legal and trading terms and British business will also be free from the massive burden of EU “directives” the cost of which according to Tim Congdon’s cost benefit analysis of our trading amount to nearly 5% of our GDP.

    The EU and Eurozone in particular remains a ‘basket case’ economically, and its (EU) share of world trade has been steadily declining for years.
    Better of out!

  27. 27 Autonomous Mind 15/05/2013 at 7:07 pm

    Graham, give it up. You’re fighting a no-win battle. You don’t know what you’re talking about and are presenting guesswork and wishful thinking as fact. All you have written above is misleading rubbish. Sorry, but there’s no other way to say it.

    The moment the treaty is abrogated the UK would assume the legal status of a ‘third country’. No doubt being so expert in these matters you will know all about this, so where is that factored into your utopian vision? Do tell everyone what being a third country means for exports and imports from and to that country and how this fits with restoring our global reach.

    Continuing, you will of course be aware that there will not be any agreement in place to enable UK exports to enter the EU’s customs union or vice versa. As you seem to know so much about all this, tell me which ‘designated port’ we will use, given that Calais cannot accept goods from outside the EU as there are no approved customs and public health inspection facilities for third countries.

    Futher, you will be aware that every agreement made by the EU on our behalf, such as the forthcoming one with the US which has taken years to formulate, will not apply to the UK after abrogation because we would no longer be part of the EU. So tell everyone how British businesses will be able to export goods to the US without a deal existing between the two countries.

    Take your time. I’m sure that honest and trustworthy individual Mote will be able to answer these given his authority as an MEP to which you appealed earlier. Then I’ll ask some more questions you will no doubt have the answers to, such as how long will it take to negotiate all the new deals and who will foot the bill for the businesses that cannot sell anything overseas until deals have been struck.

    Perhaps you will be good enough to run your ideas past an exporter who understands how your plan of action will impact the UK, and ask them to explain what the effect would be of your approach and share the details with us here. Go on. I dare you.

  28. 28 grahamwood32 16/05/2013 at 2:21 pm

    Another excellent contribution to the current debate by Rodney Atkinson (see Freenations website).
    I wholly concur: Here is an excerpt.:

    “These then are the minimum requirements for an honest democratic referendum:
    1. Only British citizens will be permitted to vote
    2. The Government will not be active in the referendum other than as a member of one side. A Referendum is of the People and the Government shall have no separate role to play.
    3. There will be only two active parties in the referendum and they will each provide scrutineers at all count venues and at the postal ballot count.
    4. Only Government funds, split equally, will be available to each side. No contributions will be allowed from business, trade unions, the European Commission or any third party nor will any third party be permitted to provide any materials, services or facilities whatsoever to the competing campaigns or to the British public in any form.
    5. The result of the Referendum will be binding on Parliament and politicians. Should the decision be to leave the European Union then the 1972 European Act will be repealed and the United Kingdom will leave the European Union and begin negotiations AS A SOVEREIGN UNENCUMBERED STATE to establish free trading and co-operation agreements with the EU together with other EEA States not part of the European Union. The UK will not act under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty since the country will no longer be part of that constitutional Law.
    6. The Question put to the electorate should be in the form of alternative statements: “I want the UK to accept the renegotiated membership of the European Union” or “I want the UK to form a free trading self governing relationship with the European Union” – put in two separate boxes at the same level on the ballot paper.
    7. If the negotiations conducted for a new relationship with the EU are not concluded by the time the Referendum must be held (December 31st 2017), the alternative statements (see above) put to the electorate must reflect the fact that there has been no successful renegotiation and the choice must be between the existing arrangements and “I want the UK to form a free trading self governing relationship with the European Union”.

  29. 29 Autonomous Mind 16/05/2013 at 9:07 pm

    So Rodney remains in Team Delusion. No surprise there. He still believes the European Union started with Hitler simply because he formed a common market in Nazi occupied territory, even though there is a wealth of evidence the united Europe movement pre-dated WWII. No matter.

    I only ask one thing of you, Graham.

      Go and ask Rodney how, on Day One of his brave new independent world, British goods will be landed in continental Europe and sold into the EU market.

    Provide an answer that stands up to scrutiny and I will join UKIP, campaign for them and stand for election. Fair?

    I await the answer Rodney provides you. As I still await answers to the questions I posed earlier that you have yet again decided therefore to ignore. With a humble blogger that’s fine. But try ignoring EU member state customs when you attempt to land ‘third country’ goods without any trade agreement, at a port that is not permitted to perform border inspections, the existing trade agreements having been tossed by default when Rodney and Co dump all EU law.

    Looking forward to your reply!

  30. 30 grahamwood32 17/05/2013 at 10:26 am

    AM As stated, none of these objections are really valid or insuperable for the simple reason that BEFORE article 50 can be invoked, the political decision (under that same Article) would have already been taken, and therefore the preliminary steps taken to ensure an orderly negotiated de-coupling from all EU laws and directives would begin.
    Then, I have no doubt things would move swiftly to ensure that the UK took, positive steps to strong trading agreements with other EEA states, or possibly a revitalised EFTA. The point is that we would be free to do so, and all sorts of options would then be in the mix.
    In addition, the UK at that point of decision would be entirely free to reassert bilateral trading agreements with other rising economies globally, especially with the Far East economies and renewed with Commonwealth English speaking countries – all without the current ban on doing so imposed by the EU at present.

    The fly in the ointment is whether there is a unilateral right to depart. That is not explicit in the Article 50 and the language is ambiguous.
    Thus protracted “negotiations” on EU terms would certainly not be to our advantage or national interest. They would in any case follow, not precede, a mandate from the British public to get out via an In/Out Referendum which is now almost inevitable. I suggest they would not take kindly to obfuscation by any political party to unnecessarily delay or prolong such a process.

    As for the EU refusing to trade with us that would contradict the WTO rules and also be greatly to the EU’s disadvantage because they sell far more to us than we do to them.
    There is also the complication of the many joint project such as Airbus which the UK is practically involved in.
    Lastly, the Republic of Ireland is a massive bargaining chip because any sanctions against the UK would mean the RoI could not trade freely with the UK. that would cause the RoI fragile economy to collapse.
    As for repealing the ’72 Act there is more to say on the principle of this course – for a later post.

  31. 31 Richard North 17/05/2013 at 2:31 pm

    Nice try Graham. Now, would you like to address AM’s point.

    Go and ask Rodney how, on Day One of his brave new independent world, British goods will be landed in continental Europe and sold into the EU market.

    And when you have done that, please tell us how British goods will be landed in continental Europe and sold into the EU market.

  32. 32 Eddy 17/05/2013 at 3:25 pm

    Thanks for your comments AM. How do we get out of the EU? The same way you get out of a minefield, very carefully. Charging off is not a useful method, but there seems to be no convincing some people. It’s not your political enemies you need to worry about, it’s your erstwhile allies. By the way Mr North I thought you were working on a document describing the ins and outs of leaving the EU, how is that coming along, I’m looking forward to reading it and I think it will help focus this kind of discussion.

  33. 33 Richard North 17/05/2013 at 3:41 pm

    Eddy – we’re doing better that that. We’re working on a film as well. I expect both film and document will be ready by October.

  34. 34 letmethink 17/05/2013 at 4:22 pm

    Graham, I am at a complete loss trying to understand why you’re making such a song and dance about invoking Article 50 as the mechanism for notifying the EU of our intention to withdraw.

    you say yourself that once a decision to withdraw has been made it will be necessary to start “orderly negotiated de-coupling from all EU laws and directives . . . ”

    Article 50 places a legal obligation to set up a negotiating team and negotiate with the withdrawing member.

    Surely that’s going to be more orderly than a haphazard, unfocussed, open-ended negotiation that would be bound to follow our unilateral revoking of international treaties.

    You also state that “The fly in the ointment is whether there is a unilateral right to depart. That is not explicit in the Article 50 and the language is ambiguous”

    Well you are factually correct. Some of the language of Article 50 could be interpreted in more than one way but not in this context. Paragraph 3 is explicit: –

    “3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.”

    So the maximum period before the treaties cease to apply is two years unless (as a minimum) the UK decides to extend that period. I can understand a potential concern that our negotiating team might wish to extend that period ad infinitum but by then I just can’t see that happening.

    I fail to see why (after so long) you feel it necessary to unilaterally rip up international treaties and enter a period of haphazard negotiating free for all which the EU bodies have zero obligation to engage in, all for the sake of potentially two years.

    If I were taking a risk-based approach to the issue, there is no doubt that Article 50 would win the argument hands down. I don’t understand what would be the benefit of taking your approach.

  35. 35 Eddy 17/05/2013 at 6:23 pm

    Good news Richard! I’m looking forward to that.

  36. 36 Autonomous Mind 17/05/2013 at 6:34 pm

    Graham, is the reason you are not answering the questions I have asked because you can’t answer them, or because your answer would show how completely flawed the Rodney solution is? I think all the readers of this thread will draw their own conclusions as to why you are ducking the questions and just restating assertions that are not backed with any detail or evidence.

    A clear example of this is the fact I have told you that we would be breaking agreements to simply leave the EU and single market, therefore the WTO would not side with the UK when you go to complain they ‘won’t trade with us’. It is not about a refusal to trade, it is about there being no rules or agreement in place to trade. Can you not grasp that simple fact? It is about law and its application. But you and Rodders, in your rush to deliver a grand statement of independence, would have dumped all the laws without anything to replace them and no agreement governing our trade.

    The fact remains – the Rodney vision would kill our trade stone dead on day one because it will leave us without trade agreements enabling us to export goods to the EU. That is a fact. It might not be convenient for your attempt to appear assertive and in command of a ‘plan’, but there it is.

    From your own extensive experience, do tell us how long it takes to negotiate a trade deal and why the negotiations would not be ‘protracted’. How long would the UK have to remain in isolation while you dot ‘i’s and cross ‘t’s? It should be something you can answer right away because you have a plan, right? You know how all this stuff works, right? You’re making informed statements, right?

    As for your comments about Ireland, do you really think blackmail is the appropriate basis for a shotgun negotiation? Is that Rodney’s plan? God, I can’t imagine why the business community is of the mind to oppose the UK leaving the EU when people like you and Rodney make calamitous statements such as that…

  37. 37 grahamwood32 17/05/2013 at 9:59 pm

    AM I have responded to similar questions raised by RN on his blog.

    Letmethink:: “Graham, I am at a complete loss trying to understand why you’re making such a song and dance about invoking Article 50 as the mechanism for notifying the EU of our intention to withdraw.”

    It has not been my position to “make a song and a dance” I have constantly reiterated that Article 50 is but one route out – repealing the ECA ’72 is another – both are legitimate, but not, in my view, of equal value in terms of actually getting out!.

    IMO the primary issue then is not theorising about Article 50, but rather the massive change of policy on the part of a mandated government – post a winning In/Out referendum, to make the political decision to leave.
    Without that, we cannot invoke Article 50 can we?
    Thus an OUT vote would place a clear obligation on government to then ensure that alternative trading policies were carefully explored and ready to be implemented well in advance of formal departure via repealing the Act.

    The mechanism of actually leaving is not unimportant, but pales into relative insignificance besides the decision to leave. That would be a political earthquake, and from that point on everything changes. An exact scenario is impossible to predict, but the government would then have freedom to abandon the straitjacket imposed by the EU and look outward to trading with the rest of the world.

    AM and others are trying to argue that EU hegemony continues ad infinitum. Not so. Repeal of the Act by a sovereign act of Parliament formally and legally renders null and void all EU law and treaty obligations from that moment on, and releases us to pursue all the other trading options already mentioned.

  38. 38 Spinwatch 18/05/2013 at 1:14 am

    Mote is wrong if he said “Over 100,000 pages of secondary legislation (Statutory Instruments) fall simultaneously”. What is in UK law is still UK law on the day after Brexit and must be unpicked with care.

    However I think that some contributors are being unnecessarily hard on Graham Wood who opposes exit via the EU’s preferred Article 50.

    Gerard Batten MEP larely got it right in his March pamphlet:

    Click to access

    Just say we terminated unilaterally without going through up to 2 years as a vassal of the EU (which some actually seem to welcome).

    The Vienna Convention is used to interpret international treaty law

    Click to access 1_1_1969.pdf

    A party wishing to terminate a Treaty must notify the other parties, with reasons. Normally they would need to give at least three months’ notice, but can simply terminate in cases of “special urgency” (Article 65).

    Just say we declared the Treaty of Lisbon making us EU members invalid, which would be quite sustainable . An invalid Treaty is void and has no legal force (Art.69). However ‘acts performed in good faith’ before the Treaty was invalidated are not made unlawful solely by its invalidation.

    Termination releases the parties from any obligation to further work to a Treaty. However it does not affect any “right, obligation or legal situation” arising from the Treaty (Article 70).

    By that yardstick, our terms of trade and other dealings with the EU would continue by default. As Treaty intentions are taken into account, International Law would note EU’s intentions for a post-Brexit relationship typified by.

    * good neighbourliness…close and peaceful relations based on co-operation”
    * free movement of capital/FDI
    * freest possible trade
    (Refs: TEU Article 8, TFEU Articles 63, 206).

    I can’t see the EU wanting a trade war with us in which they would come off worse. The markets would also welcome any gestures towards a stabilised relationship; this should not be incompatible with political self-government.

    For a few years, we would have to run down Britain’s contribution to the EU budget to resolve questions like long term joint projects (e.g. FP8 R and D programme) and redeploy some Brits working in EU institutions on setting up new forms of co-operation.

    The EU might not like this, but would find it hard to portray it as irresponsible to the business community and the world. We will have to deal with it from outside, at least on some issues, so I can’t see a bit of goodwill being a bad thing.

  39. 39 Spinwatch 18/05/2013 at 1:19 am

    Oops – the links are

    Click to access The-Road-to-Freedom_WEB.pdf

    Batten document

    Click to access 1_1_1969.pdf

    Vienna Convention on international treaty law

  40. 40 Richard North 18/05/2013 at 9:17 am

    Spinwatch – Graham makes a rod for his own back … as do you. Both of would have the UK abrogate the treaties unilaterally. Yet neither of you seem willing to spell out the consequences.

    So, when the UK has abrogated the treaties, how will British goods will be landed in continental Europe and sold into the EU market.

    Answer the question please.

  41. 41 Spinwatch 18/05/2013 at 10:45 am

    Under international law, existing rights, obligations and legal situations would continue arising from Vienna article 70. It would appear that business as usual is provided for on day 1. Are you saying that the EU would not respect international law as required in Article 3.5 of TEU?

    We would rapidly need to discuss future intentions with the EU, but it would be in keeping with both trade liberalisation trends and treaty intentions to avoid a trade war. Having already liberalised trade with the UK, I would find it perverse if the EU went against its expressed goal in TFEU, replacing the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade with a regressive re-imposition!!!!

    That we were not sticking two fingers up to the EU (!) but showing some goodwill on budgetary matters etc would demonstrate the UK’s willingness to have a constructive neighbourly relationship.

  42. 42 grahamwood32 18/05/2013 at 11:09 am

    “So, when the UK has abrogated the treaties, how will British goods will be landed in continental Europe and sold into the EU market.
    Answer the question please.

    Richard. My answer, as will be yours, is that at this stage we simply do not know. Any attempt is speculative, a stab in the dark, and dependent on the answers to far more important questions we are continually discussing – an In/Out referendum, whether it will take place at all, and its result and implications. As many of us have asserted the EU, certainly in its present form, may not even exist in 2017/18 so why waste time and effort in speculative argument about hypothetical scenarios which at this stage are red herrings ?
    The point is that if we decide to exit via a referendum, then potentially EVERYTHING CHANGES in our relationship with the treaties (particularly Lisbon), with the EU itself, and of course all our future trading patterns.

    The primary “consequence” of our exit is that as a sovereign nation, we will no longer be bound by EU laws of any kind, although as Spinwatch has so
    ably pointed out, an unravelling process will take time and trouble.

    As I understand it, Batten’s excellent paper answers your obsession with Article 50 (as below). and that is the reason why a unilateral exit via repeal of the 1972 Act is the best route out, for it leaves us master in our own house to decide all issues on our own terms.
    In particular his comment: “The EU cannot permit a precedent of a successful withdrawal on beneficial terms as this might encourage the withdrawal of more Member States.” , is a particularly powerful point.
    I would suggest ‘would’ for “might” here.

    Now perhaps you will kindly address my comments on the application of our exit from the EU to Points 1 & 4 of the Harrogate Agenda? Do you agree that repeal of the 72 Act, and its subsequent results are entirely in harmony with both of these? If your answer to that is ‘yes’ then you shouldl have no problem with repeal of the Act, and Batten’s approach, or those who take a similar view.

    Batten’s Comment:
    “Unconditional Withdrawal is in the British National Interest
    Negotiations with the EU on withdrawal would be pointless, indeed counter-productive.
    The EU cannot permit a precedent of a successful withdrawal on beneficial terms as this might encourage the withdrawal of more Member States. The EU would most likely try to make the negotiations as difficult as possible, ending in the most onerous terms for Britain. Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is a trap that countries intending to leave the European Union should not allow themselves to be drawn into.
    Leaving the EU would give Britain back power over its own Trade Policy (now determined by the EU). What we should then do is deal bilaterally or even multilaterally with the nations of Europe, not with the EU.
    National governments at least have to worry about their voters, and will find it much more difficult to sacrifice their economic interests to punish us for ideological reasons.”

  43. 43 Richard North 18/05/2013 at 2:52 pm

    I am puzzled by your determination to avoid answering the questions put. If, however, you are genuine in suggesting that you “do not know” how British goods will be landed in continental Europe and sold into the EU market once we have withdrawn unilaterally from the EU, then you are advocating a course of action which you acknowledge would create considerable uncertainty.

    Do you believe that promoting course of action where the outcome is unknown (and potentially very damaging to the short-term interests of the UK), thereby creating uncertainty, is a sound basis for fighting a withdrawal campaign, one which may also include having to fight a referendum?

  44. 44 grahamwood32 18/05/2013 at 5:36 pm

    “I am puzzled by your determination to avoid answering the questions”

    Response: But read my post again. I did answer the question with the reply that neither you or I, or anybody else can know the answer to you question at this point for a hypothetical situation which may or may not be in existence in 2017/18
    “how British goods will be landed in continental Europe and sold into the EU market once we have withdrawn unilaterally from the EU”

    Response: Do you not agree that this is a highly speculative approach for which again, we have no clear answer?
    . Only on EXISTING EU treaty/laws & etc is the UK under obligation. But after a successful OUT referendum – then everything changes, and any UK government would be under a greater obligation to immediately explore alternative trading arrangements in line with the altered political situation. There is nothing to stop a UK government making preliminary enquiries and informal discussion well in advance prior to repealing the Act.
    Once sufficient progress had been achieved in negotiations within a wide range of trading opportunities and bi-lateral or multilateral arrangements then a formal repeal of the Act could follow. That then releases the UK, as you will know, formally and “legally” to discard entirely the current restrictions on UK trade imposed upon us by the EU as at present.

    “you are advocating a course of action which you acknowledge would create considerable uncertainty.”

    Response. Indeed so! That has been the drift of several posts of mine, here and on your blog. This recognition of reality does not “create” uncertainty – it is already there and will continue unless and until the UK government acts decisively and unilaterally quits the EU.
    If you have psychic powers denied to the rest of us that will generate “certainties” then give us the benefit of your insights!

    “Do you believe that promoting course of action where the outcome is unknown (and potentially very damaging to the short-term interests of the UK), thereby creating uncertainty, is a sound basis for fighting a withdrawal campaign, one which may also include having to fight a referendum?”

    Response: I believe your premise is flawed and my answer is therefore ‘no’.
    On the contrary, IMO nothing could be more certain to undermine a withdrawal campaign, and fighting a referendum, than the UK being a hostage to fortune in terms of Article 50. (also, try explaining to anybody on the doorstep what “Article 50” is, with its arcane ambiguity, exceptions, qualifications & etc !).
    In any event and as you also know – no invoking of Article 50 is possible unless and until a UK government has declared its intention to quit.
    THAT is the game changer, not the mechanism for exit.
    What is is more likely to create uncertainty in any future withdrawal campaign is further deceptions and procrastinations on the part of our three main political parties, with their humiliation of the UK as they play party politics with this issue and the British electorate.
    At least many are now recognising the clear message coming from UKIP – although I concede that there is an urgent need to spell out their exit strategy a lot more clearly.

    If I may now refer the question back to you. What do you understand by the clause in Article 50 which ‘permits’ a seceding member state to do so “in accordance with its constitutional requirements”?
    Or put slightly differently, does not our own Constitution, the terms of which can and should be invoked, have a higher authority than any “terms” for withdrawal dictated to us by the EU Commission, which has no democratic legitimacy whatsoever and is, quite literally, not accountable to anybody – least of all to the British electorate?

    I also await your response to my question to you about the relevance of the Harrogate Agenda (Points 1 and 4) to all of these issues – which I take to be the answer in substance to many of your questions.

  45. 45 Richard North 18/05/2013 at 7:20 pm

    You know very well that “don’t know” is a non-answer. Therefore, I don’t have to read your non-reply again to know it was a non-reply, reinforcing your determination not to reply. Nor do I need you to put words in mouth. You may pretend you “don’t know” what would happen if the UK exits unilaterally, but I have been very clear in pointing out the consequences on my own blog.

    However, it is clear that you wish to avoid spelling out the consequences of your own folly, and offer “uncertainty” as your only option. I am glad I would never in a war have to rely on a strategist who was content to embark on a course of action, the outcome of which he was uncertain, in a battle which was to be decisive.

    On the other hand, there is nothing arcane or ambiguous in Article 50, other than that which you choose to invent for your own purposes. Yet, your inability or unwillingness to answer simple but revealing questions tells its own story. You may hide behind your pretence of ignorance, but your game it is pretty transparent.

  46. 46 Peter Copping 14/06/2013 at 9:02 am

    In practice no one knows how to DISENGAGE from the EU without ‘pulling the house down on top of us’

    The British go in for federations:, the United Kingdom (one bit proposes to leave another rebelled though in real life kept the trading structure and effective joint citizenship) Australia, Canada, South Africa, Malaysia, West Indies, (failed) Central Africa (failed),and though they won’t like me saying the USA (a punishing war to keep it together)

    So it can be said we have experience though whether it is relevant is a moot point

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