LeaveHQ, 06/04/2016  

“We can choose economic security, not an unnecessary leap in the dark. We can choose to be stronger, safer and better off – and that’s what I hope the British people will do when the moment comes.”

When Vote Leave endorsed a Brexit “plan” that entails unilaterally breaking our Treaty obligations with the EU and withdrawing from the Union without concluding an agreement, it was clear they had become a liability. Then they insinuated that Britain is flooded with rapists and other undesirables because of the EU and have launched their risible “save our NHS” initiative. It is clear they are totally off the rails.

There really isn't much between the mainstream campaigns; they both indulge in histrionics and disingenuous campaign techniques. They both make flimsy assertions and lack any credible plan, vision for the future or an intellectual foundation. So whether it ends up being the Grassroots Out or Vote Leave who get official designation; we can be certain that a lot of funding and publicity is going to amplify a severely flawed and regressive message.

David Cameron will campaign on effective slogans based on security, safety and uncertainty.  It will be much like the Conservative Party General Election strategy; the repitition of simple, bullet pointed slogans. It was extremely effective in sweeping the Liberal Democrats out of office and decimating Ed Miliband, and at this rate campaigning against the Leave campaigns will be like shooting fish in a barrel. 

Both Vote Leave and Grassroots Out have rejected the idea of having a plan, failed to hold to any kind of message discipline, rejected the EFTA/EEA route and fell into every “Norway Option” trap Cameron and the remainers put in their path – when defending it and championing it as a viable transitional arrangement would have been wiser. When confronted with major questions on Brexit they have comprehensively failed to convincingly reassure the public.

Little wonder that project fear is working. After a few shaky weeks, the Remain campaign is looking to re-focus, and the prime minister is leading the charge with a concise message of fear, uncertainty and doubt. David Cameron’s article is platitudinous spin but thanks to Vote Leave and GO it cannot be easily dismissed as fearmongering hyperbole, because it is based on the Leave scenario they have set out..

He asks us to “imagine a world where a British airline wasn’t allowed to fly between Rome and Paris”. This could have been better phrased, because what he was referring to was the right of a UK-registered airline picking up paying passengers in Rome and dropping them off in Paris, or vice versa, when en route from a UK destination. 

This, though, is not a given right and, in aviation terms is known as the fifth freedom. The first four rights, which include the right to fly to and from a foreign county, the right to overfly others, and the right to refuel or carry out maintenance in a foreign country without embarking or disembarking passengers or cargo, come as part of the package written into the Convention on International Civil Aviation of 1944, otherwise known as the Chicago Convention.

The so-called "fifth freedom" is one of several known as "beyond rights", which do not come automatically. They must be negotiated and agreed separately between individual member states or, in the case of the EU, within specific trading blocs.

For the UK, these rights came about in respect of other EU members states in what was known as the "third package" of liberalisation and other rules, embodied in Council Regulations (EEC) Nos 2407/92, 2408/92 and 2409/92, agreed in 1992.

Since repealed, there have been recast as Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community, a text which also applies to EFTA states within the EEA.

As an EU regulation, this would fall if we adopted the stratagem favoured by some campaigners of unilaterally repealing the European Communities Act, in order to leave the EU. We would also lose this freedom if, as Boris Johnson suggested, we adopted something like the Canadian free trade agreement (CETA) as a model for a post-exit Britain. Under this deal, Canadian airlines are only allowed to operate routes in Europe if they start or end at a Canadian airport. If this rule was applied to British airlines, they would have to scrap hundreds of routes.

The economic and social damage of losing this freedom would be catastrophic, hence why the prime minister raised the issue. It is abundantly clear that such a scenario would never be allowed to happen, but that’s besides the point. David Cameron is using the Leave campaigners Brexit scenario against them, to great effect; counter attacking with ease against Boris Johnson’s ill-fated interventions, and playing on their lack of planning and irrational rejection of the Single Market.


If we adopted the exit stratagem recommended in The Market Solution  and rejoined the EEA under the EFTA banner, these regulations and many more would stay in force, and our airlines could continue operating just as before.

The trouble is that the "GO" movement, Leave.eu and Vote Leave all want some kind of (unspecified) free trade deal with the EU, effectively giving them full market rights without the commitment to free movement of people.

Doubtless, this "bespoke deal" that they want is attainable – although no-one has yet committed any details to paper. But what is becoming increasingly apparent is the number of side-issues that are going to have to be settled.

Only the other day, we were discussing specific arrangements for the Irish land border, which will have to deal with movement of goods and people.

There are issues which have been widely discussed about the rights of expats, there are the reciprocal medical treatment agreements, the replacement for the European arrest warrant, the treatment of asylum seekers in Calais, and dozens of other issues that have been raised recently.

To those, Mr Cameron adds the problems of British farmers being slapped with tariffs if they wanted to export more beef to Europe, and of British telecoms companies and car manufacturers facing new barriers when trying to sell their goods and services to customers in Europe.

The Prime Minister also raises the issue of broadcasting. Under EU rules, once a broadcaster is licensed in one member state, it can broadcast in all. If we replicated Canada's deal, companies would have to choose between seeking separate licences in all EU states in which they want to broadcast, and moving out of the UK altogether.

Then, Mr Cameron reminds us, there's our biggest service industry: financial services. Half of all international financial firms base their European headquarters in the UK. From their one office here, EU membership allows them to do business in all 27 other EU states.

These are the so-called passporting rights, and if we are to have a "bespoke deal", we will need to carve out replacement arrangements.

Then, if freedom of movement is not to be unrestricted, then we are going to need negotiations on access provisions. We are going to have to negotiate separately access to the various security databases, and to market surveillance information, to sharing information on plant and animal diseases, and we're going to need to agree common maritime rules, and air traffic control regulations.

So far, all we seem to be getting is a variation of "it’ll be alright on the night". The EU needs our trade, so they will want to come to an agreement. And, while that may well be the case, to give that credibility, we need some detail on the issues that need to be settled and a timescale.

Without this, Mr Cameron has a point. It's all very well dismissing him as pushing "project fear", but there are real issues which have to be settled and agreed with 27 member states, all within a period of two years – unless someone feels brave enough to rely on unanimous agreement for an extension.

And this, of course, is where the mainstream campaigns are increasingly being caught out. They don't actually know what they want. They've never set out the details and they haven't a clue what it will take to get an agreement. All they can do is fall back on the mantra that that EU Member States will want a deal, without any ideas of how to achieve it.

With that, there is no real need for "project fear". They are creating a huge vacuum of expectation, allowing Mr Cameron and his remainers to ask them, quite reasonably, to supply some of the detail.

The highly damaging silence that follows tells its own story. Soon, there will be a low murmur, building steadily to a crescendo, recognisable to anyone who has sent any time with battery hens. It will be the sound of chickens coming home to roost.

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