Debate Magazine

Daniel Hannan on Top Form

Posted on the 29 April 2016 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth

Via MBK; from Conservative Home:
Behind much of the coverage of the EU debate is the assumption that voting to leave somehow means putting the Leave campaigners into office.
Hence the interest in what precise alternative we favour. Do we want Britain to be “like” Switzerland or “like” Norway or “like” Canada or “like” Jersey? (It’s worth noting, en passant, that the phrasing of the question demonstrates its silliness: the fact that no two non-EU states have identical deals with Brussels makes a nonsense of the idea that Britain would precisely mimic any of them. Plainly, we’d have our own deal, tailored to suit our own interests.)
I have written before about the sort of arrangement that we could realistically expect. But my opinions are not relevant, because I won’t be overseeing the negotiations. I can point in general terms to the status enjoyed by the other European states that are outside the EU: no tariffs; reciprocal arrangements on healthcare, university access and police co-operation; autonomy in agriculture, fisheries, defence, immigration, criminal justice, culture and regional policy. But my views on, say, how much we should subsidise our farmers matter a lot less than those of the farms minister.
A referendum is best understood as voters instructing their government, rather as a client instructs his barrister. Voting to leave means giving ministers a mandate: we’d be telling them to negotiate our departure on the best possible terms.
Remain campaigners don’t want us to understand this. They want to make the prospect of withdrawal seem as abrupt and as scary as possible. Hence their suggestion that a Leave vote on 23 June would somehow start a countdown, that we’d have two years to negotiate a new deal and that, if no agreement were reached within that time, we’d in some unspecified way be outside all trade arrangements.

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