The media are still very much running with the 2016 EU referendum story and so it is now the received wisdom that the vote will take place this year of our Lord 2016. It is far more likely that we will be bombarded by a media soap opera about the “negotiations” for the next 12 months. There will be give and take, demands and arguments and then unexpected developments, complications and unforeseen circumstances that push the referendum beyond the predicted June vote. This rigmarole will be repeated for Autumn, and finally it will dawn on us that the referendum will indeed take place in 2017.
In the final countdown, as we approach the autumn of 2017 we will get the details of the “British model”, the “associate membership”, which will come with some reforms in the area proposed by the prime minister, combined with a recognition of a “two tier” EU comprised of Eurozone and non-Eurozone countries. This will seem to allay some anxieties about continued membership and will allow the prime minister to make a superficially attractive offer of a new relationship with a “reformed EU”.
The offer will be strengthened by a number of high profile “eurosceptics” suddenly turning and backing Remain based on their support for the achieved reforms, including no doubt some long term big hitters you wouldn’t expect, and of course the majority of the media will get behind it.
But I digress, and I’m repeating myself. In the meantime we have a long struggle ahead of us. 2016 is going to be an important year for Leave campaigners regardless of the fact that the referendum will most likely be in Autumn 2017. If we haven’t begun to make some real headway in gaining publicity for the progressive case for Brexit, exposing David Cameron’s strategy and discrediting his inevitable offer of “associate membership”, then we will have a near insurmountable mountain to climb.
In these objectives it is not just Remain campaigners and the government we have to contend with, but the loud campaigns riding roughshod over our efforts. The Leave.eucampaign is genuinely and unequivocally campaigning for Brexit, and its founder Aaron Banks is determined to build a campaign that is not centred around politicians and this is commendable. Unfortunately their campaign flits between ineptitude, to irrelevance, to baffling nonsense and – at worst- lowest common denominator trash:
No idea what this is all about. Will this sway anyone? They liked this so much they ran with the “fudge” theme for weeks.
They went deliberately light hearted over Christmas, so maybe i’m being a miserable sod… but what does this achieve? Total waste of resource and hardly brings credibility to the campaign.
Good God. What idiot Kipper dreamed this up? Contemptible. Actively harming the cause and totally discrediting their whole campaign. No need for a “Remain” campaign with this dross.
And then, when you try and stick up for Aaron Banks -yes he’s rough around the edges, ill advisably been associated with Ukip, drops clangers in the media, but he’s heart is in the right place, he takes criticism and he’s trying to build a non-establishment, genuine campaign…. he does something so thoughtless as to re-tweet this rank garbage and you wonder if he could possibly sink any lower:
Ugh. Just URGH. The lowest of the low. The kind of disgraceful, mindless and moronic euroscepticism that, whatever we do and however much we distance ourselves, tarnishes our image by association. It is a wide open goal for Remain advocates to say, “look, this the true face of euroscepticism!” It is exactly how the loudest voices with the most publicity can lose us the referendum. Please, please stop.
As for Vote Leave, aside from the fact Dominic Cummings does so much to harm the cause with his lack of a plan, a vision or a clue, it appears to be more of a push for reform rather than a sincere campaign for secession. Its founder Matthew Elliot has openly stated that “if the Government gets a two-tier Europe, we’re very much in.” This is not something someone who genuinely wants Britain to leave the EU would ever say. If you have a vision for an alternative future for Britain, a belief in a rejuvenated, reformed and reinvigorated nation state democracy, and a passion for winning the referendum you would ever say that you’re “very much in” if you can be in the second tier of the EU.
There will indeed be a two-tier EU, it will not however be something that the British government has achieved in the “re-negotiation”, as it has actually been in the works for quite some time. The 2013 draft treaty proposes a “major step forward to federal union” and its implementation will complete the economic and monetary union, thereby creating a “two-tier” EU.
The timetable for its implementation was set out in the Five Presidents Report last June; stage one will begin in 2017, the final stage will be 2025 “at the latest”. The beginning of the first stage in 2017 will allow David Cameron to use the publicity to his advantage, lauding the reforming EU and proposing the “British model”, and then asking us to endorse this in the referendum.
So then, should we expect Vote Leave to swing behind the “British model” and champion the “two-tier” EU? The reforms will not, of course, change the fundamental disadvantages of being an EU province, but we’d be in the second tier, we’d have a handful of reforms… Could the real purpose of the Vote Leave campaign be to provide leverage to the prime minster, push for reforms in our relationship with the EU and then back Remain?
I concede it sounds a little like a blogger conspiracy theory, but I would argue that those of us who genuinely believe that Britain should leave will fight all the way and not be swayed by a handful of reforms.
Vote Leave want reform and see their campaign and the referendum as an opportunity toforce the hand of the British government and the EU. Not only that, but there are party political and business interests involved that make Vote Leave extremely unreliable to the cause and suspicious and grubby goings on that render them totally untrustworthy.
Winning the referendum is going to be extremely difficult and I willingly concede that the most likely outcome is victory for David Cameron and Remain. But the whole task is made so much harder by the fact that the two most well funded, highly publicised campaigns, the front runners for official designation are a hindrance.
Leave.eu is inept and needs a total change of direction, an overhaul of their social media campaign and possibly a mucking out of their staff. Aaron Banks needs to think about everything he does and says, we cannot have ambassadors of Leave putting out crass material that discredits us all and leaves himself open to criticism.
Vote Leave is utterly foolish in its refusal to adopt any kind of Brexit strategy or propose any kind of plan as to what our new relationship would look like. They also make themselves look ridiculous by getting bogged down in statistics and unreliable numbers. We will not win the referendum by bean counting, no swing voters will be convinced by hypothetical savings that will probably never materialise. Worst of all, they seem more intent on calling loudly for reform than getting us out of the EU.
So, that is the mountain ahead of us, it’s going to be a long trek. I’m starting the ball rolling for 2016, which I will spend laying out the progressive case for leaving the EU and countering the fear, uncertainty and doubt of the Remain side, as well as attempting to neutralise the damage done by other Leave campaigners.
I really do hope that I don’t feel like Sisyphus by December…
This post was originally published by the author on his personal blog on January 6, 2016. http://thescepticisle.com/2016/01/06/a-big-year-for-brexiteers-but-were-hindered-by-inept-duplicitous-campaigns-but-we-are-hindered-by-inept-campaigns/