In all my criticisms of Nigel Farage and UKIP, I have always made clear that I would prefer to be praising them for pushing the right agenda. So it’s nice to be able to say that Farage’s op-ed in the Telegraph this evening represents something of an improvement for the UKIP leader. It’s far from perfect, but it is better than much of what we have seen in recent months.
The major and worrying problem is that Farage is still riding his immigration hobby horse and trying to suggest that leaving the EU is the antidote to this country’s migration issues. This is disingenuous and risky for EUsceptic credibility because, as has been explained at a superficial level on this blog but in greater detail on EU Referendum, leaving the EU will not resolve our immigration problems.
No one is proposing leaving the Council of Europe (which includes a much wider range of countries that are not in the EU), and we are still party to conventions and standards of the International Labour Organisation (contrary to the understanding of the UK’s Attorney General). UK involvement in both of these means even after a Brexit we will still be bound to observing certain conditions on immigration. This is another example of the global governance agenda that makes the EU little more than ‘Little Europe‘ – a proxy for handing down regulations and directives that the UK has had no opportunity to shape at the global top table where they originate.
Further, because it would be political suicide to attempt to sell to the British people the idea that the UK should not be part of the Single Market now or after Brexit, we would almost certainly have to maintain Single Market access through membership of the EEA – perhaps via EFTA – which would mean we would still be bound by the ‘four freedoms’, which include the freedom of movement and freedom of establishment. As Richard has explained, this means the UK would be required to permit Bulgarian and Romanian workers to take up residence here in any case. Farage is only outfoxing himself by not understanding this and shaping his policy accordingly.
But at least Farage has dared once again to reference leaving the EU. He has at least aligned that imperative with the fact that as EU members we are effectively powerless and cannot change rules that cause this country harm or our people frustration. He needs to go further in stressing the core issue as being about ‘Who should run Britain‘ and he needs to get off the immigration bandwagon because under scrutiny people will discover his ‘solution’ is nothing of the sort. It’s a lot more complicated than simply leaving Brussels behind.
Farage’s time would be better spent countering the EuroFUD on economics and dragging the debate and argument to where it should be, on governance. The whole Brexit issue is about one thing – sovereignty.
The whole EUsceptic side needs to rally around that issue, own it, hammer home the reality continuously to expose and deconstruct the lies of the CBI, Open Europe ad the other proxies for the EUphile side, and make ‘Who should run Britain‘ the defining issue of the campaign. The current immigration focus may be convenient for Farage to score some easy hits, but it will damage UKIP eventually and that represents a huge risk to the EUsceptic cause; because as Farage clearly has no comprehension of our true situation, it follows that he can have no credible solution either.