Browse > Home / EU / The Out-Inners

| Subcribe via RSS

The Out-Inners

February 27th, 2016 Posted in EU by

The most moderate part of the Leave coalition is I think well represented here by Michael Howard. People who would like to be in a very different European Union, but are genuinely sceptical about whether this EU can ever get there. Boris Johnson is also in this camp.

Within the context of the Referendum their central hope is that a vote for Leave will finally persuade the EU to offer a form of associate membership they can accept. This is also what Dominic Cummings (the Campaign Director of VL) means when he talks about a second referendum.

Cameron is at the very mildest end of this point of view. He has after all used a single referendum threat to get change. He thinks the double-referendum bluff, is just that, a dangerous bluff. He earnestly believes that negotiation and compromise are the only route to successful reform. He worries that a Leave vote would be final, not a prelude to further deal-making.

Both have a point. Cameron’s analogy of improving your marriage by seeking divorce is a good one. It doesn’t happen. Equally though international diplomacy is not a marriage. It’s transactional. It’s ‘speaking softly and carrying a big stick’.

Out-Inners see a calm debate with a Leave vote at the end of it as in that tradition. They regard Maggie swinging her bag for a rebate, or De Gaulle’s empty chair as evidence that in the main European Leaders are “weak, weak, weak…” and respond mostly to the stick not the soft voice. They don’t think the answer to a bad marriage is a Directive on harmonised sleeping arrangements.

The problem though is that other member states may look at the Referendum and see British diplomacy as ‘screaming hysterically and carrying a bendy banana’. Possibly with a blond wig on it.

Those pro-Europeans regard Brexit as welcome and long overdue. They see the manner in which the UK blocks EU nation-building, taxes, common institutions and other federal goals as insuperable. They are UK-sceptics and want us gone.

In that divorce the ex is already repainting the walls as you walk out the door. Ta ta Britain, we’ll leave the tunnel open so you can visit the cheese. Those pro-Europeans are not a large group. But they’ll have a few new recruits on June 24th if we vote Leave.

Beyond that there are then very practical issues around what new deal the Out-Inners might agree. They don’t have homogeneous political views or reform ambitions. They would have enormous domestic fights to get some things like the Common Agricultural Policy or migration policy changed. None of them for this reason is prepared to stay exactly what renegotiation they would have gone for if in Cameron’s shoes. None of them knows if they could have got it.

For neutrals between these campaigns what we can say is that the Out-Inner strategy is a gamble. It’s risky. It’s not one I want I someone who finds some aspects of the EU nearly as unappealing as some aspects of Westminster.

Out would most likely mean out. The double dip is not I think a gamble worth taking.

Comments are closed.