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Hysterical Remainers Are Inadvertently Making ‘Hard Brexit’ More Likely

Sam White has a great piece in Country Squire Magazine, in which he warns that the juvenile behaviour of bitter and hysterical Remainers is doing more than anything else to imperil the prospects of a smooth and orderly Brexit.

White writes:

One of the false charges levelled at Leave voters is that Brexit is an act of self-harm. That whatever reasons a person might have for voting to escape from the European Union, the amount of damage caused will always outweigh the benefits.

But from where I stand, the only masochistic inclinations come from hardcore Remainers themselves, as they attempt to hinder or halt a clean, well executed departure.

As they snipe and circle in a constant, bad tempered performance, drawing attention to their own discontent like hormonal adolescents, it becomes clear that they’ll try every trick at their disposal to oppose democracy.

An already impatient Leave camp is being made twitchy by the Remain contingent’s obstructive posturing, but can the Europhiles do any real damage?

The most vocal Remainers are so entrenched and irrational that they’ve actually shifted general opinion toward the very thing they’ve spent the past few months ardently demonising: a hard Brexit.

There are Leave supporters who’ve consistently argued that the only real Brexit is hard Brexit, and Remain have unwittingly reinforced this view. In fact, the idea of simply repealing the 1972 European Communities Act and walking nonchalantly away as if we’ve never heard of Article 50 now has a certain nihilistic, up-yours attraction. It’s the kind of thing Sid Vicious would do if he was in charge. Not so much a hard Brexit as a brick to the face Brexit.

That might give credibility to the charges of self harm though, and it’s unlikely our politicians would have the poised recklessness to pull it off. Instead, given the space to play smart, our negotiators would do best to take that most composedly British of approaches, and play the long game.

And were we united behind Brexit, they could do that.

However, with Remain jabbering and poking in the background like irritating, spoiled children, the considered approach becomes less attractive. What Brexiteer would feel comfortable with such a cautious route now, in the knowledge that amoral Remainers would have more time to subvert the plan?

Suddenly we’re a little less Roger Moore, and a bit more like John Cleese in Clockwise—quite prepared to steal a Porsche while dressed as a monk, as we race to trigger Article 50 before the entire glorious achievement can be stolen from us.

My emphasis in bold.

Sam White is quite correct. If we are determined to look at Brexit as a purely economic matter, as Remainers often seem to do, then right now there is no bigger threat than the possibility that the pro-EU crowd’s whiny filibustering might fuel a backlash which forces the government and MPs to take a harder (or more foolhardy) line in the secession negotiations than would otherwise be the case.

Pete North has previously picked up on the same danger, with reference to Nick Clegg an the Liberal Democrats:

And that is a problem if the Lib Dems are setting themselves up as the voice of the obstructionist remainers. It pretty much makes the EEA politically toxic. The option itself is hated among the majority of leavers, not least because they have, hook, line and sinker, bought the remainer narratives about it.

That puts us all in very dangerous territory. It forces the government to double down on seeking any solution but the EEA and consequently has them fumbling around in the dark for something politically palatable when the options are few. What that likely means is further delay and an attempt to bring about some kind of bespoke agreement that is the EEA in all but name.

As White notes, there is already a tedious contingent of Brexiteers, particularly online, who insist that despite the very clear wording of the referendum question, the British people also secretly gave an instruction to leave the single market, and that anything short of full and immediate divorce is some kind of dishonourable betrayal.

Throw in the fact that dishonest Remainers who only months ago were arguing that Britain’s prosperity depends on remaining in the political union have now retreated to the fallback position of calling for continued participation in the single market, and one can understand how the narrative of an elite anti-Brexit conspiracy is gaining traction and potentially leading to a hardening of stances among some Brexiteers.

White concludes:

Something these anti-democrats can never get their heads around is patriotism. The idea that a citizenry could be willing to risk a short-term financial hit in order to secure priceless, permanent sovereignty is apparently unfathomable.

They also have difficulty reconciling national integrity with being an outward looking, internationally-minded country, but of course there is no conflict between these things. Right now it’s the EU that appears stagnant and insular, while an independent, agile Britain looks fresh and ready to do business.

Perhaps it’s this intractable refusal to consider the value of nation states—in their most inclusive and forward thinking colours—that holds the Remainers back.

It’s true – many Remainers simply do not “get” patriotism, at least according to any reasonable definition of the word. Those who style themselves as “citizens of the world” are in fact no such thing. For as long as the nation state remains the basic building block of the global community and the ultimate guarantor of our rights and freedoms, permitting Britain’s sovereignty to be undermined is highly counterproductive.

But as this blog has argued, it goes deeper than that. It is not just that Remainers see concerns about self-determination and democracy as entirely secondary to short-term economic scaremongering concerns. It is that they are actively hostile to patriotism-based arguments, or indeed any harmless expression of patriotism.

And this haughty attitude risks fuelling a backlash which, when translated into domestic political pressure, may make it much harder for Theresa May’s government to pursue the kind of Brexit deal that we should be making.

 

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Why Should Brexiteers Be Magnanimous Toward Defeated Remainers? They Deserve No Such Goodwill

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Brexiteers should be magnanimous toward defeated Remainers? No, sorry. Remainers have behaved like deceitful, duplicitous, spoiled children both before and after the EU referendum, and have done nothing to deserve anyone’s goodwill

Peter Hitchens is both right and wrong in his latest Mail on Sunday column, in which he urges Brexiteers to show magnanimity toward defeated Remainers by swinging their support behind an interim Norway/EEA option for leaving the EU.

Hitchens writes:

Do you really think anyone in this deeply divided country has a mandate to go hell-for-leather for full immediate exit from the EU, regardless of costs and consequences?

I don’t. I think we might be very wise to settle for a Norway-style arrangement, and leave the rest for some other time.

A mandate is a mandate, but only because of the strange, rather illogical magic which says that a majority of one vote decides the issue. So it does.

But it doesn’t sweep away any duty to consider the defeated minority, our fellow countrymen and countrywomen, our neighbours, friends, colleagues, even relatives.

It may be that if the other side had won, they might have behaved badly towards us.

I have been in enough minorities in my time to have experienced that. But they would have been wrong to do so. And precisely because our cause is so good, we can afford to be generous in victory.

I get tired of the overblown shouting on both sides here. Anyone, even I, could see that a referendum was only the first step, and that lawyers, judges, civil servants, diplomats and the BBC would seek to frustrate a vote to leave.

That’s why I always wanted to take another, longer route out. I wasn’t surprised by the High Court decision that Parliament must be consulted, and I will be even less shocked if the so-called ‘Supreme Court’ takes the same view.

Hitchens is absolutely correct to endorse a Brexit model in which Britain retains our current level of access to the single market by continuing to participate in the EEA after our initial departure. One may not realise from listening to overzealous, hard Brexiteers, but this is nothing more than an acknowledgement of basic truth – that Brexit is inevitably going to be a process rather than an event, and that for this to work we need to find effective ways of tying the hundreds of loose ends created by severing ourselves from the EU in a way which minimises economic and diplomatic disruption while fulfilling the primary objective of leaving the political union.

But Hitchens is wrong to suggest that there should be any additional magnanimity toward Remainers, besides that which is absolutely essential for the interests of our cause. Lest everybody forget, Remainers have had their way exclusively for 40 years straight, with Britain participating as a paid-up member of the EU against the wishes of eurosceptics. During all this time there has been absolutely no magnanimity shown or generosity extended to those with doubts about the euro-federalist project, or concerns about the EU’s impact on democracy.

Brexiteers have been called “fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists” by none other than the former prime minister David Cameron, then leader of the party which by all rights should be most sympathetic to the eurosceptic cause. And Cameron was being positively polite in comparison to others. Furious Remainers, angry that their incompetent and small-minded campaign somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory despite having the overwhelming support of the government, civil service and establishment, have been openly complaining that Brexiteers are the racist beneficiaries of a “post-factual” world where dark propaganda overshadows the EU’s inherent goodness (I debunked that lazy theory here and here).

And worse, Remainers have acted as though a nation state seeking to escape from a failing and spectacularly unloved supranational political union and reassert control over its democracy is not the result of genuine and valid political conviction but rather somehow the first step toward fascist tyranny.

I genuinely don’t know whether I have been more insulted by Remainers before the referendum or since it took place. During the campaign we had wall-to-wall Remainer scaremongering and the deliberate encouragement of public ignorance (with the false insistence that the EU is just about “friendly trade ‘n cooperation” and nothing more, that sure it has problems but the Magical EU Reform Unicorn will easily take care of them, and that anyone who disagrees is an Evil Uneducated Xenophobe).

And since the surprise victory for Leave, we have seen a parade of Remainer catastophising and hysterical garment-rending the likes of which have not been seen in my lifetime. Some of it has been dispiriting, coming from people whose opinions I used to respect. Some of it has been whimsical and borderline hilarious. But all of it has been wrong, and all of it has been offensive to Brexiteers, who have nonetheless fought the good fight despite the insults.

Hitchens goes on to sling some further insults at David Cameron, which this blog always enjoys:

People are already beginning to forget Mr Cameron. They shouldn’t. First, because so many who should have known better – Tory activists and then voters – fell for his marketing.

Second, because he is mainly responsible for the mess in which we now find ourselves. Try not to be fooled by this kind of person again.

And in the meantime, realise that, in these difficult times, we risk the sort of unforgiving, dangerous and destabilising divisions which are even now ripping through the USA. In such conditions, you may well get what you want, but only at a hard and bitter cost. Is that worth it?

Halfway out of the EU, which we can achieve now, may turn out to be a whole lot better than being halfway in.

But Hitchens mis-sells the EEA option, which is much better than being “halfway out” of the EU, as he describes it. Freedom from the EU’s political union, the “ever-closer union” ratchet, the ECJ and any future common taxation or military policies alone would be worth the effort. But as an EEA member (by rejoining EFTA and trading with the single market under that organisation’s EEA agreement) we would be subject to only around one third of current EU laws, many of which we would need to accept anyway in one form or another, in order to conform with global standards which the EU merely receives and rubber stamps. This is a lot more than some dismal halfway house, as Pete North eloquently explains.

This is political independence and breathing room for us to then consider how best to work with other like-minded countries and organisations to bring about the kind of non-parochial, global single market which could benefit Britain so greatly. By contrast, pushing for so-called “hard” Brexit not only glosses over innumerable complications, the ignorance of which could do profound economic and political harm to Britain were we to leave the EU without resolving them, it also makes Brexit less likely by alarming sufficient numbers of people that those who seek to stop Brexit altogether receive additional support.

Agitating for the hardest of hard Brexits is spectacularly unwise, inasmuch as that it would be an unnecessary act of deliberate economic self-harm – unnecessary because secession from the EU is eminently achievable without trying to undo 40 years of stealthy political integration in a fevered two-year bonfire of laws. And if recognising this basic reality seems like extending magnanimity toward Remainers, then let it be the only magnanimity they ever receive.

By now agitating for “soft Brexit” and Britain’s continued participation in the EU, Remainers are essentially exposing the fact that they lied continually throughout the referendum campaign. As this blog previously noted, during the referendum we were always told that leaving the EU would trigger all of these negative economic consequences. But now that Britain’s secession from the EU seems inevitable, Remainers have fallen back on the argument that it is leaving the single market which will cause us doom. This is actually much closer to the truth, but every day that they make this case shines a spotlight on the steaming lies and deceptions they told the British public during the referendum.

Therefore, if giving Remainers what they now want (continued single market access) still gets us out of the European Union in the most optimal way and exposes them as the shameless liars that they are, then I am more than happy to make that concession. But that is the only magnanimity that they will get from me.

Remainers have had things their way for forty years, never caring about the millions of Britons who dissented from the pro-EU political consensus, and often being actively hostile to us. Now that something has not gone their way for the first time in many of their pampered lives, I fail to understand why I am expected to sit beside their sick beds, holding their hands and reassuring them that I am not secretly part of a plot to bring fascism or splendid isolation back to the UK.

If that is what some Remainers seriously believe, then let them continue to think it. I hope that the gnawing concern gives them ulcers. I am done trying to reason with them. I am done placating them. I am done responding with reason when I am accused of ushering in the apocalypse, either through ignorance or malevolence. I am done extending the hand of friendship. No Brexiteer should feel compelled to defer to the delicate emotions of these selfish adult babies.

They had their way for forty years. Now we get to do things our way for a change.

Life is tough like that. Suck it up, Remainers. Enjoy the political wilderness – we knew it well ourselves, once.

 

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This Generation Of Politicians Will Not Secure The Benefits Of Brexit

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Four months after the EU referendum, our leaders continue to shrink from the challenges (and opportunities) which lie ahead

As is nearly always the case, Pete North has the best analysis and summary of exactly where we are with our Brexit deliberations – and right now, the answer is rather depressing:

For several months we had the great and the good telling us how important the single market was and how valuable the EU was to the UK. Now that they are tasked with leaving the EU we see that they can barely define the EU and the single market let alone offer an adequate critique as to whether it is right for the UK.

Through successive treaties our parliament has idly signed away substantial areas of policy to be decided overseas with hardly any public scrutiny. It is therefore ironic that MPs now demand parliamentary sovereignty in scrutinising the terms of the exit arrangements when they showed so little interest in what they were signing away.

By voting to leave the EU we have caught the entire system of government off guard to show that is is totally ill-equipped to govern – and those claiming to represent us have failed in their duty to safeguard our democracy. Through forty years of negligence the UK’s trading relationship with Canada is decided not by Number Ten or Westminster. Instead it depends entirely on the Walloon assembly in Belgium.

And therein lies the inherent flaw in the EU design. The DNA is faulty. Introduce democracy and the whole thing grinds to a halt. Take it away and power ends up in the hands of the few. It cannot work and it cannot be reformed yet we have endured decades of politicians telling us otherwise.

One of the most depressing aspects of life post-EU referendum has been watching our national leaders shrink from the challenge of implementing Brexit. I don’t mean that they are all necessarily in denial, or that they wish to subvert the referendum result – but rather that their every public pronouncement suggests that many of them are simply not up to the task which lies ahead. Typically, this isn’t a question of intelligence, but rather a lack of imagination and ambition. And in truth, perhaps it is too much to expect the same politicians used to implementing EU decisions or operating within their constraints to suddenly step up and become adept drivers of a country suddenly without training wheels.

The debate has thus devolved into two rather tiresome strands – the one held by most Remainers, who have become intent on catastrophising Brexit at every turn and seizing upon every scrap of potentially troubling news as further evidence that the end is nigh, and the opposing, buccaneering view which loudly insists that everything can be wrapped up to Britain’s complete satisfaction by March 2019, and sees any questioning of this certainty as evidence of anti-Brexit treachery.

This blog falls down the gap between these two comically exaggerated positions, which is perhaps why I haven’t been writing about Brexit as much as I should have been lately. One can only slap down so much ridiculous establishment catastrophising of Brexit (now the nation’s fluffy kittens are in peril, apparently), while pointing out the need for a transitional arrangement and securing continuity of access to the single market still falls on deaf ears among those in charge, and only feeds the smug (but not entirely false) Remainer assertion that Brexiteers don’t know what they are doing.

And yet a transitional arrangement is exactly what we need, as Pete North explains:

What will become clear in due course is that Britain will need a continuity arrangement that sees little or no change to the labyrinth of customs procedures and regulations that make up the single market. Neither Britain nor the EU can afford to start tinkering under the hood of long established trade rules. The sudden collapse of CETA at the hands of a Belgian provincial assembly shows just how dysfunctional the system is.

If anything is inflicting damage on the UK it is not Brexit but the overall uncertainty over what Brexit looks like. This in part down to those media vessels determined to make Brexit look like a catastrophe and in part down to those politicians who have not bothered to plan for the eventuality. We are four months on from the referendum and key ministers are still struggling with basic terminology.

Brexit is by far the biggest and most ambitious thing that this country has attempted in decades – frankly, since the Second World War. It demands painstakingly extricating Britain from a web of agreements and schemes of a complexity befitting an organisation which still seeks to become the supranational government of a federal Europe. But to make it even more complicated, we will wish to maintain many avenues of cooperation after leaving the EU’s political union, meaning that a slash and burn of laws will not do – hence Theresa May’s much over-hyped Great Repeal Act.

As Pete points out, it is highly ironic that sulky Remainers are suddenly so interested in having Parliament examine every aspect of the secession deal (with the more juvenile characters, who clearly know nothing about negotiations, expecting to be briefed in advance) when over several decades they blithely signed away powers to the EU with barely a second thought, and certainly no real public debate.

It makes the Remain camp’s current favourite attack line – Brexiteers wanted to return decision-making power to Parliament, so why won’t they let Parliament have a say?! – especially cynical. But the argument is wrong anyway. “Returning powers to Parliament” is a handy catchphrase, but it is a glib one, always favoured more by eurosceptic MPs than the general public.

The current anti-establishment rage currently roiling Europe and America shows that political leaders have become too distant from (and unresponsive to) the people, no matter the level of power. Therefore, returning powers to the Westminster parliament is not enough – we need an end to British over-centralisation and the devolution of power back to the counties, cities, towns and individuals.

Sadly, the chance of meaningful constitutional reform taking place in Britain any time soon continues to hover around zero. And rather than Brexit being the catalyst for such change, as this blog once hoped, it now seems that an intellectually and imaginatively challenged political elite will hide behind the complexity of Brexit as an excuse to avoid doing anything else of substance. One can easily foresee a situation in a decade’s time where Britain is technically outside the EU but stuck in an increasingly permanent-looking halfway house, with acceptable access to the EEA but with none of the later work to move towards a global single market even started.

Would this be good enough? Well, Britain would be outside of the political structure known as the EU, which was always the base requirement – so if one is happy to shoot for the middle and accept the bare minimum then yes, it might have to do. But it would be an appalling failure of ambition, when there are real opportunities to improve the way that international trade and regulation works and to revitalise British democracy through wider constitutional reform.

But to realise great ambitions requires there to be half-decent leaders pointing the way. And looking at the Tory “Three Brexiteers” and the dumpster fire that is the Labour Party, one cannot help but conclude that great leaders – even just competent heavyweight politicians – are in short supply at present. Do you really see Boris Johnson’s name featuring in a future Wikipedia article about the great British constitutional convention of 2020? Or Theresa May’s? Jeremy Corbyn or Hillary Benn’s?

Do I regret my decision to campaign for Brexit? No, never. The European Union is offensive to any proper sense of democracy, or to the notion that the people of a sovereign nation state should decide and consent to the manner in which they are governed. Being rid of the EU (and hopefully helping to precipitate that hateful organisation’s eventual demise) is a solidly good thing on its own. But Brexit could be so much more than it is currently shaping up to become.

And perhaps this is the most damning thing of all about the European Union: the fact that 40 years of British EU membership has slowly turned the nation of Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee, Margaret Thatcher, Hugh Gaitskell, Tony Benn, Barbara Castle and Peter Shore – men and women of principle and substance – into the nation of Tony Blair, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Chuka Umunna, Diane Abbott and Owen Smith.

A nation simply does not bounce back from that kind of decline in the space of a few years, and the more that our contemporary politicians carry on about Brexit the clearer this becomes.

Assuming that Brexit goes to plan, it may not be until the next generation of political leaders come of age (at the earliest) before we can finally take full advantage of our newfound freedom.

 

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Brexit Catastrophisation Watch, Part 5 – Britain Stronger In Europe Tacitly Admit They Were Lying The Whole Time

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While advocating a “soft Brexit” as their fallback position, Remainers contradict themselves and expose the tawdry lies they told during the EU referendum

Even Open Britain, the shrivelled husk of Will Straw’s failed Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe, has now effectively admitted that leaving the European Union need not be intrinsically economically harmful – thus undermining the central pillar of their case for staying in the EU.

The harsh light which Remainers are now knowingly shining on their prior scaremongering and lies is quite hilarious. By drawing a distinction between “hard” and “soft” Brexit and campaigning fervently for continued membership of the EEA, campaigners are effectively admitting that their many economic apocalypse warnings applied only to leaving the single market, and not the EU’s political union.

From an Open Britain campaign email sent to supporters yesterday:

Open Britain is campaigning for Britain to stay in the Single Market, which brings increased investment, trade, jobs and growth.

It seems the public agree. A new poll we commissioned has found that 59% of voters want the UK to stay in the Single Market, so there is no mandate for a destructive Brexit.

Now, MPs from Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are calling for a debate in Parliament. They are urging the Government to publish its plan for the forthcoming EU negotiations and to allow Parliament to approve it. A huge majority – 73% of people – support this.

Our future partnership with the EU should be not decided in secret but determined by democratic debate.

There is “no mandate for a destructive Brexit,” we are told. Well, that’s funny. Because not long ago, every Remainer in town – most certainly including Britain Stronger in Europe – was screeching about the automatic ruin which would befall Britain if we voted to leave the EU, regardless of how the Brexit process played out or whatever our eventual new trading and political relationship with the EU happened to be. For months we were told by sanctimonious Remainers that “destructive Brexit” was the only kind of Brexit available – yet now they acknowledge a benign version of Brexit and encourage us to adopt it.

Fast-forward four months and suddenly the story changes. Now, apparently, we need to fight tooth and nail to preserve our membership of and unimpeded access to the single market, because this is the lynchpin on which Britain’s economy rests. In other words, their entire economic scaremongering case was a giant lie.

Oh sure, they’ll come back and claim that most Brexiteers supposedly want a “hard Brexit” and that the major Leave campaigns envisioned Britain leaving the single market, which is why they felt justified in equating the European Union with the single market in their own campaign rhetoric. But this is the mealy-mouthed defence of someone who has been caught in a blatant lie. Remainers were desperate to bury the awkward fact that the EU and single market are not one and the same thing, and the fact that they did all they could to fudge the distinction (heck, they suggested that leaving the EU meant severing ourselves from the continent of Europe) shows that they were more obsessed with economic scaremongering than truth. It is Remainers, not Brexiteers, who dwell in a land of post-factual politics.

As this blog recently commented:

Funny. It’s almost as though [Remainers] are suggesting that leaving the EU needn’t necessarily mean “plung[ing] the UK into a period of recession and international decline”, and that Britain’s economic and diplomatic health is actually contingent on the kind of choices that Britain makes once we are free of the supranational political union.

Claiming that a mismanaged, uncontrolled or “hard” Brexit might cause serious economic harm is a perfectly respectable position. More than that, it is basic common sense. But that isn’t the argument that Remainers were making during the EU referendum campaign. No, they were claiming that any form of Brexit would be disastrous, that Britain leaving the European Union would be economically calamitous in and of itself, regardless of how Brexit unfolded or the model of our future trading relationship with the EU.

As it happens, this blog agrees with Open Britain’s revised position. Certainly as an interim measure Britain should remain in the EEA while working toward a longer-term solution which hopefully replaces the single market with a new framework which is more democratic and not part of a protectionist, beady-eyed, euro-federalist master plan. Given that the most skilled trade negotiators in the world (in which Britain is singularly lacking, despite generous help from our Commonwealth friends) take a decade or more to thrash out comprehensive bilateral agreements it is the height of idiocy to assume that a Brexit-inspired sense of urgency and the concerns of “German car makers” will get the job done in the initial two short years set out in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

But why couldn’t the Remainers just be honest from the beginning, level with the British people and tell them that it is Britain’s uninterrupted EEA access, not our membership of the supranational political union, on which our economic stability depends?

The answer, of course, is that for top Remainers the EU referendum was never about economics. It was about their craven desire to live in an amorphous internationalist blob where the nation state is fatally undermined and the strongest level of government and identity reforms at the European level. That’s what they wanted but couldn’t say in public. And so instead they falsely equated the EU with the single market in an attempt to scare low information voters and assorted unthinking lefties that voting for Brexit inherently meant economic doom.

Now that the decision to leave the EU has been made, these disingenuous people are having to regroup and come up with a new argument – that it is our future relationship with the single market, not the EU, which will have the greatest potential impact on our economy and future prosperity. And just as even a stopped clock tells the correct time twice a day, this time they happen to be correct.

Unfortunately, changing arguments mid-stream also reveals that nearly everything that the Remain campaign said prior to the EU referendum was a deliberate, filthy lie.

 

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David Cameron: Portrait Of A Deceitful Charlatan With No Redeeming Qualities

Apparently there is panic in Number 10 Downing Street and among the slavishly pro-EU establishment. Good. They have waged a contemptible, negative and deceitful campaign, and whether or not it prevails on June 23 the hearts, minds and consciences of all those involved richly deserve to be troubled

Having done everything but fill in all of the ballot papers himself to ensure a “Remain” vote on 23 June, at this point in the unevenly fought EU referendum campaign we might expect to see a bit of magnanimity or statesmanship from the prime minister as he coasts toward the closing stages.

But the polls have tightened unexpectedly as the British public rightly begin to suspect that the near-unanimous hysterical screeching from the establishment in favour of Remain sounds more like naked self-interest and wretched pessimism about Britain than a realistic warning about what might happen in the event of Brexit. And this has caused David Cameron – a notably weak strategist only capable of thinking one step ahead, unlike his gifted general election campaign manager – to panic, and start behaving in a most un-prime ministerial manner.

Three interventions in particular mark out the descent of David Cameron from oleaginous, confident salesman to the nation’s Bully in Chief – the impromptu rooftop press conference at which Cameron openly accused ministers in his own government of knowingly peddling falsehoods, the statement that Cameron would take Britain out of the single market in the event of a “Leave” vote despite leaving the EEA not being on the ballot paper, and his shameful attempts to bully and coerce Britain’s pensioners, effectively holding a gun to their heads and commanding them to vote Remain or see their pensions fall.

The Spectator’s Isabel Hardman says of Cameron’s panicked rooftop press conference:

David Cameron doesn’t do that many press conferences at all, despite promising in Opposition that he would hold a monthly one, and so when he summons hacks to the roof of a hotel at short notice, you know that there is a Crisis that the Prime Minister is taking Very Seriously indeed.

Cameron then proceeded to list six ‘complete untruths to the British people’ that the Leave campaign was guilty of producing. These were that the UK is liable to bail out eurozone countries, that our rebate is at risk, that we have given up our ability to veto EU treaties, that we have no ability to stop EU spending from going up, that we are powerless to stop Britain being forced into an EU army and that we would save £8bn if we left the EU.

Were these untruths really so heinous that he was forced to hold a press conference at short notice? Or was it, as one of the journalists sitting on the roof with the Prime Minister suggested, that the Leave campaign currently had the momentum and the debate was all about immigration, which damages Remain? Cameron replied:

‘Look, I was watching the news last night and it just came over to me so clearly that there is such a contrast between the weight of independent expert opinion that wishes our country well but is giving us an unvarnished view of the decision we could be taking, there’s a massive contrast between that – respected, independent experts warning us about lost jobs, about instability, about a smaller economy, about the effect on our country. The contrast between that and a series of assertions from the Leave campaign that just simply aren’t right…’

So the Crisis was that the Prime Minister had been watching the news last night.

Some archly dry humour there from Isabel Hardman. When The Spectator openly mocks a Conservative prime minister in this way, you know things are bad.

Cameron’s specific counterpoints are immaterial here – they were aimed at the ravings of the official Vote Leave campaign, which does not speak for all Brexiteers. But what is telling is the fact that David Cameron – a man who promised that he “ruled nothing out” in his renegotiation with the EU while actively colluding with business leaders to plan the eventual Remain campaign, and who then presented the empty gift bag given to him by Brussels as a deal which had fundamentally “reformed Europe” – is willing to go on live television and accuse his Brexit-supporting ministers of being liars.

More insidious than this, though, was the way that David Cameron pledged on the Andrew Marr show last weekend that in the event of a Leave vote he would seek to take Britain out of the single market, despite this being just one (incredibly sub-optimal) mode of Brexit, and the referendum question saying nothing at all about the single market or EEA.

Dr. Richard North of the eureferendum.com blog remarks on:

[..] an extraordinary interview on the Marr Show yesterday which had David Cameron pledging to take the UK out of the Single Market in the event of a Brexit vote. This was despite Andrew Marr suggested that we could stay in, with Cameron refusing to entertain the idea, “because the ‘leave’ campaign had specifically rejected that option”.

The segment of the interview started with Andrew Marr reminding the Prime Minister that he had promised to “carry out the wishes of the British people” if we vote to leave. The trouble is, Marr then said, is that “the wishes of the British people” is a rather indistinct thing – it’s a blunt “yes” or “no”.

Cameron responded by saying that if we vote to leave the Government would carry out the instructions of the British people. That, Marr averred, would put the Prime Minister in “a very strange position”. He’d be doing things like introducing an Australian-style points system that he didn’t believe in. As for, the Single Market, though, Marr said, “there is room for a Prime Minister to negotiate that”.

It was here that the role of Vote Leave came to the fore. “I think one of the most important moments in this campaign”, Cameron said, “was when the ‘out’ campaign said they wanted to leave the Single Market”. He continued: “They didn’t have to make that choice. They’ve made that choice. And what the British public will be voting for … would be to leave the EU and leave the Single Market”.

What the Prime Minister is doing, therefore, is using Vote Leave as a proxy for the entire British public. However, this is a small group of individuals with singular views, put in place by an unelected Electoral Commission to carry out the role of lead campaigner. This can’t in any way be taken to represent the will of even those who favour Brexit – much less the entire British population.

Dr. North is absolutely right to emphasise firmly that Vote Leave do not represent the ideas and wishes of all Brexiteers. They were not elected to represent us, and their most prominent figurehead (Boris Johnson) had not even decided which side he was going to support until a couple of months ago.

Just because the same idiots who stubbornly persist in peddling their “£350 million a week for the NHS” falsehood in the face of endless rebuttals and fact checks have airily decided that Britain should not Brexit to an interim state preserving single market access in no way precludes that option. As Richard North reminds us, the ballot paper asks whether we want to leave or remain in the European Union – nothing more and nothing less. We should know, we spent long enough haggling over the wording at the time.

All the evidence suggests that if Britain leaves the EU without securing an “off the shelf” deal to ensure continuity of access to the single market (while fully extricating us from political union, which is what the referendum is all about) there will be at least some negative short term economic consequences, as no new trade deals can possibly be negotiated in the two-year window provisioned in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. By contrast, Brexiting to an interim EFTA/EEA arrangement (the so-called Norway Option) would maintain our full access to the single market in the short to medium term while we work on a better bespoke solution for Britain.

The attractiveness of the interim EFTA/EEA route is self-evident: Britain would immediately be free of ever-closer political union and democracy would be restored, while maintaining single market access (for which we would pay) would return our relationship with the EU to the state that people believed they were voting for in the 1975 referendum. Therefore, it is unsurprising that Remainers are desperate to slander and dismiss the option as unworkable – it represents dynamite which would obliterate their entire case for continuing to suffer the EU.

But while David Cameron’s eagerness to problematise the Norway Option is understandable politically, for the prime minister to flat-out state that he would not pursue this option and instead take Britain out of the single market (despite no mandate to do so from the electorate) is bordering on threatening self-harm. Any Brexit model not involving keeping interim access to the single market would inevitably come with higher risks and potential economic costs than adopting the Norway Option. By ruling it out, David Cameron is essentially threatening the electorate, saying that if we vote Leave he will pursue the most disruptive and costly form of Brexit within his power, purely as an act of spiteful vengeance.

Just stop and think about that for a moment. David Cameron has effectively told voters that if we vote to leave the European Union, he will sneer “your wish is my command” and then set about doing so in the most reckless and ill-considered manner possible, just to teach us a lesson. The prime minister of this country has just threatened  our own national interests on live television. Is that something which we should just blink and accept, writing it off as “fair play” in a hard fought referendum? I profoundly disagree. I think that it is contemptible behaviour, the kind of action which immediately disqualifies the perpetrator from holding further public office.

And if this still wasn’t enough, David Cameron then went from threatening the British people in general to attempting to scare Britain’s older voters in particular, with despicable threats that Brexit would automatically and inevitably lead to pension cuts.

Tim Stanley, rightly outraged, calls this what it is – blackmail:

Project Fear has turned into Project Frightened. Remain are losing ground in opinion polls and running scared. So what do they do? Go positive? Make a better, brighter case for the EU? No. They double-down and turn to blackmail.

That’s the only word that suits David Cameron’s threat that Brexit might lead to pensions being cut, made today in this newspaper. His logic is that Brexit will create a gap in the finances that will have to be filled somehow. The triple lock on pensions, guaranteeing rising incomes, would probably have to picked. Even if it were a moral necessity to help the aged, it would suddenly become unaffordable.

This is rubbish for two reasons. First, it’s based on the Government’s assumption that Brexit will lead to a collapse in trade that will wipe billions off GDP. The Treasury forecasts that this is based on are alarmist and absurd – they suggest a retraction worse than the Great Depression. Businessmen who actually deal with Europe every day, such as Sir James Dyson, report that they don’t see such a risk and are confident that Britain will continue to grow.

Second, Cameron suggests that the Government would have no choice but to cut pensions – as though the invisible hand of the free market would be clasped around its throat. Nonsense. It would face spending choices and, Cameron is telling us, it would choose to cut pensions. Much as the Government has chosen in the last few years to cut the highest rate of income tax on the rich or chosen to cut benefits for the poor. If Brexit did trigger a recession, the Government would once again have to do what it’s supposed to do and make budget decisions based upon its political preferences. I humbly suggest it chases the tax evaders and closes some loopholes before it bleeds pensioners dry.

And Stanley’s devastating conclusion:

The bottom line is this: the Prime Minister has moved from warning the British people to threatening them. And picking on the elderly – some of whom are legitimately worried about the future – is one of the lowest things you can do in politics.

At this point in the EU referendum campaign we are used to seeing the European Union portrayed by its cheerleaders and apologists as a controlling, abusive spouse that would rough us up without hesitation if we try to leave its cloying embrace. But now, the prime minister himself is behaving like an abusive spouse, essentially pushing Britain’s pensioners up against the wall with his hand on their throat, pointing to the kitchen knife on the counter and saying “I don’t want to do this, but you’ll leave me no choice if you cross me”.

What utterly despicable and unmanly behaviour from our prime minister. What debased, fearmongering garbage this man is capable of spewing in order to get his way in the EU referendum. David Cameron’s legacy as prime minister has long been in question, having governed for five years as part of an unmemorable centrist coalition and latterly as a party which blind observers might guess to be the work of Blue Labour, if not Blair’s New Labour. But now that legacy has crystallised – Cameron is the prime minister who betrayed conservatism and bullied his own people, preferring to serve the interests of the EU than those of his country.

David Cameron doesn’t have a conservative bone in his body. He doesn’t have an ideological bone of any kind, and from his craven behaviour in this referendum campaign it is quite clear that he lacks a backbone, too. And like a common school bully, he is willing to throw the full weight of his office and government around, breaking conventions and standards of common decency left, right and centre as he seeks to gain every inch of advantage.

Whether it is conducting a blatantly fraudulent “renegotiation” and presenting the status quo as shiny new baubles he secured from Brussels, calling the referendum implausibly early against the advice of the Electoral Commission, spending taxpayer money on a one-sided propaganda leaflet, sending out voting advice guides which subliminally encouraged people to vote Remain, winning over prominent Remain supporters with government jobs and official honours, cravenly failing to take part in a single proper televised debate, misrepresenting his opponents, attacking conscientious objectors to his slavish europhilia within the Conservative Party and isolating and targeting every possible voter group with customised attempts at scaremongering – now including this unsubtle warning to pensioners that he will spitefully lash out at them if they vote to Leave – in every way imaginable, David Cameron has debased himself and his office.

That’s why the prime minister’s days are numbered. At present he takes false courage from the fact that his normally sworn enemies in the Labour Party and on the generic Left are holding their fire in their shared desperation to keep Britain in the EU. But on June 24, Cameron will quickly realise that a good half of his own Conservative Party, together with everyone else in the country, will be straining at the leash to eject him from office, strip him of the bully pulpit he has so abused, and send him marching barefoot back to Witney in sackcloth and ashes.

And such is the amount of political capital and personal goodwill Cameron has squandered, barely a single person will come to his defence when the inevitable party leadership coup takes place. In the minds of many people – now including this blog – whether his successor is just as bad (i.e. Boris Johnson) is almost immaterial. The pleasure of seeing such an arrogant and dishonest man as David Cameron driven from power in disgrace, his reputation rightly in ruins, will be its own reward.

There is a legitimate and intellectually coherent case for Britain remaining in the European Union, but David Cameron has not made it. In fact, when it comes to the rarely heard (in this country) principled euro federalist case, its proponents all seem to have been abducted and held far away from any television studio so that they don’t open their mouths and drive thousands more people into the Brexit column.

Whether the prime minister is among their number is not known. It is possible that the man is catastrophically misguided and actually believes some of the nonsense he has spewed about securing a “better deal” for Britain, and that Britain could somehow prosper as a country inevitably on the margins of an ever more tightly integrating eurozone. Perhaps.

But either way he has not been honest with the British people. Worse than that, though, he treats the people with open contempt. Some politicians lie because they fear the people, but not so with Cameron. David Cameron lies because he despises the people, holds their intelligence in low regard, and is more than willing to alternately deceive, belittle and threaten the people in the service of his establishment masters and instincts.

This is a prime minister who, when given the choice between vociferously defending the national interest of his country against the EU elite or siding  with that same elite and bullying his own people into submission to their will, gladly chooses the latter course of action every single time.

There are few words strong enough to adequately describe the prime minister’s odious character and behaviour as revealed over the course of this EU referendum campaign – certainly none which I am willing to publish on this blog.

Which is why I am ending this piece here, in utter disgust at the conniving, arrogant, untrustworthy and weak approximation of a man presently in charge of our country – before I say something that I might later come to regret.

 

David Cameron Patriotism

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