By Jim Greenhalf
Panel: David Cameron maintains that the UK would be more prosperous, secure and have greater influence in the world, in the European Union rather than out of it. Those in favour of leaving the EU, don’t have an alternative strategy, the Prime Minister said: “They seem to be making it up as they go along.” Well, there is such a strategy, and it was compiled and written by Bradford political researcher, author and blogger Dr Richard North. JIM GREENHALF reports.
CUTTING the Gordian Knot that binds the UK to the political and economic structures of the European Union would not be a single historic event but a gradual process over several years at least.
That’s why Richard North, beavering away in the book-crammed study of his Wibsey house, called his 420-page strategy FLEXCIT, short for Flexible Exit and Continuous Development. It went online in April last year since when the author calculates that more than 50,000 people have downloaded it from his EUReferendum.com blogsite.
A 48-page summary was published last month (March) by the Leave Alliance, a network of anti-EU campaigners that includes the Bruges Group and the Campaign for an Independent Britain.
“After nine treaties and 40 years of political and economic integration, there can be no clean break. Unravelling in a single step is not going to happen, and certainly not without compromises. This is a point that cannot be made too strongly,” Dr North says in the pamphlet’s introduction.
As one of the few pundits who correctly forecast the outcome of last year’s General Election, Richard North, whose books co-authored with Christopher Booker include the definitive history of the EU – The Great Deception – Richard North challenges the Prime Minister’s ideal of Britain within a reformed EU.
The EU can only be changed by treaty agreement of all 28 member states. International agreements are made on the basis of ‘shared misery’, he added. Favourable treatment for one will be opposed by other member states not in receipt of it, especially if the proposed reforms infringe any of the EU’s four freedoms: freedom of movement of people, capital, goods and services.
Richard North’s FLEXCIT strategy imagines and describes six phases following Britain’s declaration under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to leave the EU.
“First you leave,” he said, summarising the phases for Urban Echo readers. “Negotiations for that take at least two years. Then you sort out immigration, European trade regulations, the policy issues governed by EU law (there are 22,000 EU laws), the global trading matters and finally you address domestic political reform to restore democracy and prevent Parliament from ever again giving away our power as it did in 1973 when we signed up to the European Communities Act.
“The EU’s ambition is to create a new country called the United States of Europe. That’s simply not a direction in which we can travel because there is no mandate for it,” he said.
Leaving the EU means changing a relationship, not ending it, as the FLEXCIT pamphlet makes clear:-
“We are simply travelling separately. This is not isolation but an agreement to do many more of the same things in a different way, all to our mutual advantage.”