Posts Tagged 'Article 50'

Farage on Brexit: ‘The only mechanism by which we can withdraw is Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty’

It is noteworthy that when it comes to discussion about how the UK should go about leaving the EU in a legal and structured manner that , the only place where the mechanism was properly considered and investigated was by Richard North on the EU Referendum blog with support in the Telegraph and Daily Mail from Christopher Booker.  The conclusion was that the UK must invoke Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon.

After many discussions with Richard and reviewing the information about the process, it became clear Richard was right and the legal exit process was clear and defined, even if it is only the start of a long and complex process.  It is the only provision that guarantees and requires the EU to discuss with a member state withdrawal from the union and negotiate what relationship that member state will have with the EU after exit – thus ensuring the UK can protect its economic and commercial interests, particularly with regard to trade.  Hence this blog began to advocate the Article 50 route in addition to a number of other blogs that had weighed in with support and additional analysis to advance the case.

So it has been frustrating thereafter to see a number of vocal Eurosceptics arguing that Article 50 is a ‘trap’ and arguing behind the scenes – only occasionally breaking cover on forums – that the mechanism for exit should be a simple repeal of the European Communities Act (ECA).  Overnight, via this scorched earth approach, the UK would be independent in so much as all treaties that bind us into adhering to EU law would fall.

However, it would also mean the UK would have no trade agreement with the EU – or any country or bloc with whom trade agreements have been made by the EU on the UK’s behalf – and no customs arrangements enabling our goods to enter the customs union.  ‘Ha, it doesn’t matter.  They sell more to us than we do to them, so a trade agreement would be in place within 24 hours,’ runs the argument of the scorched earthers, pretending the complexities of international trade and product standards with a bloc representing 27 other countries can be sorted out in a day.  In fact, Lord Digby Jones, the former Labour trade minister in the House of Lords, made this very argument at the UKIP conference the other day, demonstrating a capacity for delusion and level of ignorance that is truly breathtaking and disturbing in equal measure.

North’s hard work and detailed argument was however of interest to many Eurosceptics and UKIP members.  Ploughing a lonely furrow for a long time, EU Referendum (with minor assistance from Autonomous Mind) continued to explain the merits and protections of the Article 50 route to raise awareness among those who wanted to answer that longstanding question about Brexit – how it could be done. It was therefore extremely gratifying to see at Farage’s Q&A session at the UKIP conference that the first two questions raised by UKIP members concerned the ‘how‘ and focused on Article 50.

It was a measure of North’s success in bringing the mechanism issue to the forefront of the Brexit agenda, when even UKIP’s leadership was refusing to define the approach it endorsed and was planning for.  In answer to the question, Nigel Farage finally came off the fence and told the UKIP audience (as you can see in the first five minutes of the video below):


“The only mechanism by which we can withdraw is Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.”

Farage did explain he is not comfortable with it because the Lisbon Treaty was not put to the British people, and applied a caveat that if the EU messed the UK around he would make a Unilateral Declaration of Independence, but he accepts it as the only appropriate and legal mechanism for starting Brexit.  This is a huge step forward.

We now have clarity about the mechanism and the approach UKIP accepts must be taken, contradicting the scorched earth approach pushed by UKIP MEP Gerard Batten and UKIP’s economic adviser and former leadership hopeful, Tim Congdon.  An important part of the battle has been won.  The persistence of one blogger, supported by some other blogs and a continuously growing number of Eurosceptics convinced by arguments for Article 50, has brought us to this point.  Richard deserves recognition and huge thanks for this.

The next step is for UKIP to start work on understanding what issues need to be negotiated and establishing the position the UK needs to take to get what it wants out of the negotiation.  It needs to engage people who understand what needs to be negotiated to ensure the UK is not adversely affected by withdrawal and formulate the approach to follow.  This has two benefits

  1. UKIP can genuinely declare to voters that it has a plan for leaving that does not harm UK interests
  2. UKIP can assure the business community that after exit, companies will not lose access to their European markets or ability to hire skilled employees from Europe

Only a high level explanation needs to be given, to give people confidence that there is a detailed plan behind the summary that covers the areas that concern people.  Polls have shown consistently that the greatest fear people have of Brexit are negative economic impacts.  The Europhiles have played on this remorselessly with spin, conjecture and outright lies to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt.  But if UKIP steps up, this FUD can be countered and more people will be reassured to vote to leave the EU should a referendum take place.

The comments made in a few moments from a stage in London might just now trigger a fightback by the Eurosceptic side, one that is backed with truth and evidence that destroys the arguments of the Europhiles.  This could be a seminal moment in the Brexit campaign.  It is now up to UKIP to use its platform to push this up the agenda for the benefit of the whole Eurosceptic side.-

Perhaps, just maybe, hope has been restored.  We have to wait and see if this Damascene conversion by Farage becomes more than words.=/

Article 50: UKIP’s crucial weaknesses under the spotlight

Writing in the Telegraph today, City AM’s Allister Heath delivers a balanced if whistlestop article exploring some of the major problems that UKIP faces yet is doing little to overcome.

However Heath’s otherwise valuable piece gets off on the wrong foot from the get go with its title, ‘Nigel Farage’s biggest problem is Ukip doesn’t do details’.  For the piece to be more accurate that should have read, ‘UKIP’s biggest problem is Nigel Farage doesn’t do details’.  After all, Farage alone calls the shots and the party dances to whatever tune he chooses to play on any given day.

Even so, some of the analysis is penetrating and underlines much of what this blog has been arguing, even if Heath’s colour commentary about ties with the EU needing to be ‘significantly loosened’ is weak fluff.  The emphasis below is mine:

Ukip’s problem is that its policy positions are uncosted aspirations, rather than properly thought-through proposals. Until this is sorted, they risk being torn to shreds as media scrutiny increases. Those who simply wish to protest against a snooty establishment, or who like how Farage “represents people like us”, won’t mind; but much of the country will, and Ukip’s bubble would deflate almost as fast as it takes its leader to down a pint.

In particular, Ukip doesn’t have a plan to exit the EU and to introduce alternative trading arrangements that reflect the complexities of the modern economy. The challenge is especially acute when it comes to complex rules of origin for manufactured goods, and to protect London’s financial services industry against protectionism. This problem is shared by the broader Eurosceptic movement, including in the Tory party; a lot of work is needed, and fast. For those of us who agree that the European project is a busted flush and that the UK’s ties with the EU need to be significantly loosened, this is a source of major frustration.

The absence of a cohesive UKIP exit plan and vision for new trading arrangements is the most critical issue for the whole Eurosceptic movement.  This gap is a knife to the heart of the credibility of withdrawalists. It is the equivalent of a boxer not lifting his gloves and instead allowing his opponent to rain blow after blow on him.

Without a plan that triggers negotiation to bring about a replacement trading arrangement and access to the single market before the UK leaves the EU and abrogates existing treaties and agreements – which can only be achieved by invoking Article 50 – voters will be convinced to stick with the status quo, through a combination of Europhile FUD and the all-too-accurate exposure of the damaging consequences of simply leaving before securing trade deals that safeguard our economic interests.

Unless and until Farage gets serious about withdrawal, does detail and understands the mechanics and states the strategy to enable the UK to leave the EU, while maintaining our access to the single market – and crucially ensuring we can trade with those other countries around the world with whom trade agreements only cover EU member states – the ‘No’ campaign will lose any referendum.

Article 50 is the path to restoring our independence after which we can unpick the acquis at our leisure, secure in the knowledge we have access to the markets our businesses are so worried about losing.  If the Eurosceptics present a robust plan to give businesses confidence that decoupling from political union does not mean we lose access to the single market or the countries with whom we have EU-negotiated trade deals, they have no economic basis for opposing the out campaign.


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