Why leaving is the safer option Oliver Lewis is Research Director at Vote Leave Let’s imagine that we decide to Vote Leave on 23 June. What happens on 24 June? The very next day after the referendum Britain will remain a member of the EU. The same laws will still apply. Legally, nothing would have changed. There is no legal obligation on the British Government to take Britain out of the EU immediately. Instead what happens is that there is a new political incentive for our leaders to create a new UK-EU Treaty and to take us out of the EU at an appropriate point in the future. There will be no need to rush. We must take our time and get it right. We will negotiate a UK-EU Treaty that enables us 1) to continue cooperating in many areas just as now (eg. in areas like maritime surveillance), 2) to deepen cooperation in some areas (eg. scientific collaborations and counter-terrorism), and 3) to continue free trade with minimal bureaucracy. The details will have to await a serious negotiation but there are many agreements between the EU and other countries that already solve these problems so we will be able to take a lot ‘off the shelf’. What will happen after we Vote Leave is that informal negotiations will begin, laying the groundwork for a smooth transition out of the EU. No rational government would immediately begin any legal process to withdraw so there is no issue of an immediate use of Article 50, the EU’s preferred legal route for a member to leave that imposes a basic two-year timetable. The government will explore how the other EU countries and the Commission want to proceed. Safety and stability will be at the top of the agenda. We will be helped enormously by the fact that the European Commission, Berlin, and Paris now have an official roadmap for another Intergovernmental Conference and another Treaty centralising many more powers including over taxes with the EU. They think they need this to save the euro. What it certainly provides a clear opportunity for us to strike a new deal based on us letting them plough ahead while we take back control. After these informal talks, there will be formal negotiations to change the legal situation. This may involve Article 50, or the EU and UK may decide to use a different tool. At the right point we will also need to repeal section 2 of the European Communities Act 1972. This is Parliament’s instruction to our courts to treat EU law as supreme. By repealing it we will restore democratic government. Daily in government departments, ministers are told ‘you can’t do that because we will be judicially reviewed under European law’, on a vast range of subjects from building hospitals and aircraft carriers to which terrorists we can deport. This causes administrative and management chaos and adds billions to costs. By ending this, we will help restore competent and democratic government. Taken together, these changes we will allow us to retake control of our trade policy. We will leave the Common Commercial Policy (that gives the Commission control of all UK trade agreements). After we retake control, we will negotiate new agreements with countries like India, which represent the future of global growth, much faster than the EU slowcoach wants to or is able to. We will also continue to trade with our European allies. There is a European free trade zone from Iceland to the Russian border and we will be part of it. The heart of what we all want is the continuation of tariff-free trade with minimal bureaucracy. Countries as far away as Australia have Mutual Recognition agreements with the EU that deal with complex customs (and other ‘non-tariff barrier’) issues. We will do the same. Britain will have access to the Single Market after we vote leave. British businesses that want to sell to the EU will obey EU rules just as American, Swiss, or Chinese businesses do. Only about one in twenty British businesses export to the EU but every business is subject to every EU law. There is no need for Britain to impose all EU rules on all UK businesses as we do now, any more than Australia or Canada or India imposes all EU rules on their businesses. British businesses that wish to follow Single Market rules should be able to without creating obligations on everybody else to follow them. The vast majority of British businesses that do not sell to the EU will benefit from the much greater flexibility we will have. The vast majority of firms will take advantage of the fact that they no longer have to comply with EU red tape that costs the UK economy £33.3 billion every year. The idea that our trade will suffer because we stop imposing terrible rules such as the Clinical Trials Directive is silly. The idea that ‘access to the Single Market’ is a binary condition and one must accept all Single Market rules is already nonsense - the Schengen system is ‘Single Market’ and we are not part of that. After we vote to leave, we will expand the number of damaging Single Market rules that we no longer impose and we will behave like the vast majority of countries around the world, trading with the EU but, crucially, without accepting the supremacy of EU law. Once we have left the EU we will increase our international influence. We have never managed to exert much influence on the EU project. As the UK negotiator for our entry to the EEC put it, the Foreign Office strategy from the outset was to ‘swallow the lot and swallow it now’. This situation recently got even worse - we surrendered our one meagre surviving true red card, the ability to stop other states going ahead by themselves with things that will damage us. Every time a British Prime Minister has tried to oppose something they have failed. This bureaucracy over which we have so little influence now supplants Britain in many global bodies. Many supposed ‘EU rules’ now actually transpose rules agreed in these global bodies where Britain has given away its representation to the EU. Our new deal will therefore also include Britain retaking our seats on all these bodies, such as the World Trade Organization. If Canada has adopted the same rules as Norway or Luxembourg over car safety glass, and can export windscreens to Britain or Ukraine, it is because the relevant standards have been agreed at a higher level than the EU. A leave vote means the opposite of isolation - it means regaining a voice in global bodies that will be increasingly important as the EU shrinks in importance. We will use our freedom from EU law and our strengthened international voice to promote more effective and faster international cooperation often at a global level. European cooperation will continue in fields where it already exists such as air travel, sanitary controls, disease, and counter-terrorism. We must go much further particularly to deal with rapidly accelerating technological revolutions such as genetic engineering and machine intelligence. The EU is clearly unable to cope and there is widespread recognition of the need for new global economic and security institutions to deal with humanity’s biggest problems. We need institutions that are much faster to adapt to accelerating changes. Another key thing we will have to do is introduce a sensible regime for the movement of people that allows us to replace the awful immigration policy we have now - a combination of an open door for low skilled labour and convicted criminals from the EU while simultaneously stopping highly skilled people from outside the EU coming to the UK to contribute. We will take back control of our asylum policy from the European Court, including over the vital 1951 UN Convention on refugees. As another billion people are added to the world population and this population becomes more urban and mobile, it is vital for our prosperity and democratic legitimacy that we regain the power to change our immigration policy according to changing circumstances. Finally, we will be able to spend our money on our priorities. Instead of sending £350 million per week to Brussels, we will spend it on our priorities like the NHS and education. The new UK-EU Treaty should be ready within two years. In many areas we will continue existing arrangements at least for a while. Obviously the relationship will change and improve over time but a main goal for the first phase is to avoid unnecessary disruption. All the important elements of a new Treaty should be in place well before the next election. There will be no need to rush this process. The great advantage of a ‘leave’ vote is it gives Britain wider options. It is the best move regardless of how the EU responds. If they refuse to face reality and accept the need for changes in the European architecture, we will obviously have done the right thing. If it forces them to face reality and accept sensible changes, we will not only have helped Britain but we will also help Europe avoid continued decline. The Establishment says ‘stay and reform from within’. The Foreign Office has said this for decades. It never happens. The Government’s deal is just the latest failure. If we vote remain, it’ll be like getting locked in the boot of the car - we’ll be taken to an awful place that we know we don’t want to go to but can’t swerve. The euro was always intended to spark deeper centralisation and ‘political union’ and the next EU Treaty is intended to complete this process soon. On top of all the things Brussels already controls it is also planning to take control of policies on banking, energy, and more. Centralisation in Brussels is not a bug - it’s the main feature. It is delusional to think that voting to ‘remain’ will give us any leverage to persuade the EU to change radically. Brussels will not, understandably, take our complaints seriously. Whitehall will hand over more power as usual. The European Court will continue taking more power every week, particularly using the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Our money will carry on being squandered. We’ll be paying for the euro’s bailouts. Our ability to shape the international system will continue to shrink. The only realistic way to influence Europe is to vote leave. Relations will be friendlier after we vote leave as we will stop blocking our European friend’s efforts to integrate. In return, they will stop interfering with our democracy. We will all become better friends and allies and together build a new model for free trade and friendly cooperation. Since the Suez debacle of 1956, British politics has rested on illusions about the European project. It is time for a new generation to save ourselves by our exertions and Europe by our example.
The only realistic way to influence Europe is to vote leave