LeaveHQ, 11/02/2016  

however, MP for Bristol North, offers a sobering analysis to which both sides of the divide should give serious consideration.

She argues that this referendum isn't just a question of "in or out?" but how we can help Europe wake up to the crises rising up around us. Quite rightly, she says that Eurosceptics can't just shut their eyes and make the EU go away in the manner of a child playing hide and seek. Leaving the European Union will not suddenly make us magically immune from what happens in, and to Europe. "Voting to be out of the EU does not make the EU disappear". 

In this we could not agree more. It is absolutely essential for the leave campaign to spell out not their petty gripes, but how they envisage Britain's role in the world and the way we interact and cooperate with the EU.

It is not simply a case of cutting and running, nor can we pull the plug without mapping out the many risks and opportunities. Without a thorough analysis of the political realities, the Leave side has no right to be taken seriously. Should it neglect to do so, it will deserve defeat. 

On current form, we are wide open to attack on the basis that we have yet to collectively put forth a vision that speaks to the political realities. This piece in the Guardian by Jacek Rostowski, economist and former finance minister of Poland, can do the Leave side a lot of damage. He argues that the Brexit camp is "selling a Pollyanna vision that will never exist". As much as he's absolutely right, we see today that the eurosceptic "aristocracy" are no closer to taking us out of the danger zone.

"The pragmatic question that Britain must ask is how we pull the EU out of a blindly ideological march towards its own disaster".

The quality of British people’s lives will hang on most of all on whether the EU chooses to remain wedded to the symbolism of the European Union at all costs, even the destruction of the Union itself, or steps out of its comatose fantasy to face the facts in which it is now deeply immersed. It must choose between pragmatism and symbolism, and it is on that decision that the EU takes, not on whether Britain is in or out of the EU, that our national welfare is most dependent.

If the EU had been choosing pragmatism, things would now be very different. We might have ended the expensive two-seat Parliament between Strasbourg and Brussels, because saving money in hard times is more important than a symbolism of a post-war Europe. Or someone would have pointed out Greece’s credit record. Greece would not have joined a currency union with a country like Germany, and Europe’s border with the inferno of the Middle East might have been more stable than today.

Someone would have suggested that since Europe’s security is dependent on energy security, a European energy strategy might be a priority; Germany would not be unilaterally ending its nuclear power for fear of earthquakes, and Europe’s political leverage with Russia over the Ukraine debacle and now Syria might be a little more credible. Most poignantly, someone would have admitted that Schengen is a utopian idea that sadly does not create that utopia, simply because it is imposed. If Europe does not get real and face these facts fast, not only Britain, but the whole of Europe is in real danger.

In this, Leslie has identified the nature of the beast. Dogmatic supranationalist ideology trumping reality on all key areas of policy, not only internally but also in how it interacts with the rest of the world. We very much agree that it is an "ideological march towards its own disaster".

The problem we see is that the "symbolism", as Leslie puts it, is encoded into the DNA of the EU - and it is those processes and structures that stand in the way of meaningful reform and decisive action. It would be unfair to say that the EU is not acting, but it is constrained by the internal stresses created by its own organisational make-up. Moreover, the way in which such arrangements are lodged deeply in the founding treaties, it makes the EU entity resilient to any kind of reform.  

And so there needs to be a collective EU wide admission that the EU must change both in form and substance, and must change quickly. However, not only is there zero likelihood of revisiting the treaties any time soon, the very process is glacial. Even the marginal tinkering that does not require treaty change has been a marathon effort and still hangs in the balance.

In this regard, anyone who says we can reform the EU is simply not speaking to reality either. Moreover, if Britain (reputed to be the EU's least enthusiastic member) is not willing to demand substantial reform, who will? And if the prospect of Brexit does not bring minds into focus, then nothing will.

It is then incumbent upon the British people to show leadership in this. Our European elites will not act, our own government will not make serious demands, and the opposition is even less likely to rock the boat. To save Europe from its fate, we must shake the EU out of its slumber and vote to leave - lest we be taken down with it. 

In so doing, joining with Efta and other non-EU allies, we can then use our collective clout to start making demands of the EU that we cannot manage from within. It is not only Efta states who are frustrated with the EU's lack of action. 

The bottom line is that leaving the EU solves little in and of itself. A journey stars with a single step. It is for us to set our what we want to achieve, what we expect to take from it, and how we maintain good relations with our EU allies. The clumsy rhetoric of "they need us more than we need them", pointing at our diminishing trade with the EU is simply not a credible approach to international affairs. A mishandled Brexit would not only be hugely damaging to us, but also the whole of the EU, and at a time when there are serious doubts about the world economy.

We can make the case that Brexit can revive multilateralism, and inject a new energy into European politics and force some introspection within the EU. That can only be good for Europe and the world. But in this we will have to overcome serious doubts. 

We must be able to reassure business that it is worth the risks, that the risks are manageable and we have both realistic expectations and good answers to serious questions. We can retreat to our comfort zone and tell our respective core votes what they want to hear, or we can step up to the plate and start telling it like it is. 

Whether the core vote likes it or not, to maintain good relations and trade we will have to remain, for the time being, within the single market, continuing to respect EEA rules and paying into the budget, and no - we will not likely see much change to freedom of movement beyond that which is already in the process of evolution.

In the short to medium term, the gains from Brexit will be slight. But those extra freedoms are necessary freedoms and how we wield those new found powers will have a seismic impact on Europe and the world. But we must first state what those will be and how we expect to act on the world stage. Unless we have a plan and a vision, then the Remain side is absolutely right - we are asking voters to take a leap into the dark. 

To assume that we can simply leave and fall back on the WTO framework while muttering generic things about the Commonwealth and the Anglosphere is simply not going to cut it. Without a credible plan, even those who think the EU probably is sleepwalking to disaster might conclude that Brexit is a shortcut to disaster. On the basis of what is currently presented by the respective leave campaigns, with one exception, it probably is. Whether they up their game or not is entirely up to you.

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