I have always been a Boris Johnson fan to some degree and suspect him of being a far cleverer man than he likes to let on. With a background in journalism and publishing, he has always kept up a regular column for the Telegraph on Mondays which I make a point of reading.
Obviously not every article is a humdinger but all are interesting however, there is one aspect that never ceases to amuse, what I call the “BoJo fanboys” who write in to the readers comments, they all seem to hate him and that “traitor” Cameron. I personally suspect that they are all nuts and most confined to “secure” nursing homes !
Today BoJo was writing and giving support to David Cameron over his renegotiating stance with the EU; “David Cameron is right to make it clear without a deal Britain will leave the EU”. One of the things I find really interesting given that Boris is a likely contender for Party Leader when Cameron decides to step down before the next election, what he (Boris), writes in his regular column is worth watching and will become more so as the time draws closer. For this piece, the following link:
Of course and because he was writing about the EU and the referendum, the total head bangers were out in force in the readers comments section but being the Telegraph, what else could one expect ? Although the main body below which consists of readers comments posts I’ve made, in all truth what I’m writing there is the same thing as the blog I’ve already posted here on IN/OUT which is that by circumstances, “Events”, the situation has changed radically even from when Cameron first mooted the idea of having a referendum on the EU.
My Telegraph Post
“I always enjoy BoJo articles made even more interesting by his political position, about to be ex Mayor of London, sitting MP and a likely leadership contender, looked at in this context, what is said and how it is written is pretty neat.
In reality and contrary to what the majority of comments below seem to imagine, membership of the EU has never been a mainstream issue for the electorate, it has been a matter of life and death only to the head bangers of both the IN and OUT camps. Whilst people who are passionate of either view think that their “arguments” should be persuasive come the actual Referendum, both will be proved to be wrong.
David Cameron made the referendum promise to wrong foot his own right wing and the threat from UKIP plus as these type of decisions tend to favour the status quo, the likely result would be 60/40 to stay IN. There would be a flurry of activity, more UK opt outs and a “successful renegotiation” declared, hurrah for all ! Unfortunately this didn’t take into accounts “Events” which have changed the game completely.
The Referendum will be decided on one issue, uncontrolled immigration and all the talk of democracy, free trade, super state will/are consigned to irrelevance, it will all come down to housing, schooling and are there enough GPs ? What has happened is that the UK electorate has been woken up by the way the Greeks were/are still being treated to save a useless and poorly founded currency. The video of immigrants at Calais trying to get into the UK but these are few compared with the 100s of thousands pouring into Germany from Syria etc.
The problem is that the EU has demonstrated on every front that it is incompetent and unable to deal with these issues, at least with a national government you can vote them out and demand changes in policy and get them delivered, Brussels in comparison is monolithic and unresponsive. My bet is that the Referendum result will now most likely be 60/40 to leave.
However and this is where BoJo is right, the OUT vote will not be the end of the matter. It is not just that there would be a couple of years of negotiations to extract ourselves from this mess on favourable terms but even the EU knows it has messed up and this will coincide with a period when Merkel’s period ‘at the top’ ends.
There will probably be a EU wide renegotiation that changes the EU fundamentally to a free trade area primarily with the political and currency nonsense buried so it is less the matter of an ‘end’ and more one of a ‘new beginning’. Oddly for those who want to ‘save’ the EU from itself, a UK OUT result would be the best result for them.”
On The Economist
There was also a Bagehot column on The Economist last week which characterized Cameron’s renegotiating stance as aiming at straw men. Now there is certainly a lot of truth in this because even before he declares his hand to Brussels, his visits to other EU countries for a “chat” on the matter seem to have produced a “possible” bundle of measures that even if agreed would be meaningless. Whatever emerges will not satisfy the extreme Right and is unlikely to persuade even the most disinterested voter that anything of any substance has taken place.
I suppose the point that I’m trying to make is that events and particularly that of the mass of humanity fleeing the Middle East have radically altered the basis of what the UK Referendum is/will be about and people need to grasp this fact. It is not just the die-hard UKIPPERS or the EU Luvvies like the Economist and the CBI who haven’t grasped the significance of this, neither have our EU partners, the game has changed radically. What to most other EU countries was a process whereby the UK ended up with a few token sops and concessions and everything would go back to how it was before, is no longer the case.
Merkel made a major blunder, her ‘open welcome’ stance to Syrian refugees will likely prove to be her ‘Poll Tax Moment’. There is neither the will nor the time for any Treaty changes to accommodate the UK before the end of 2017 and by that time, some of the downsides of immigration will be all too clear to very many EU citizens in their own countries and only the UK electorate will have the chance to vote on the matter… This is a potential tinder box for the EU.
“On the surface a perfectly reasonable article but when you stop and think about it for a moment, it all amounts to total nonsense when set against the reality. The reasons for this are pretty simple.
Whilst it is true that David Cameron put forward the “renegotiation and referendum” as a ploy to head off his right wing head bangers and in that context the “straw man, tilting at windmills” or whatever other metaphor you choose seems true, the situation has been overtaken by events. Specifically two main events, the Euro/Greece plus a sudden surge in mass migration, in both cases the EU has been totally impotent and unwilling to accept the political and economic costs of dealing with either situation properly.
The truth is that Cameron’s ‘mission’ needs to change from one of securing more opt outs for the UK to one of radically reforming the EU. However the steps required will not be acceptable to the EU who will insist on trying to “muddle along as usual” but if they do, the EU as we know it will fracture within a few years.
Regardless of the deceptive practices of the Greek Government at the time they joined the Euro, all existing Euro members knew at the time that they were lying and still let them join so they (EU) need to accept the cost of their own folly. To impose terms on Greece that make the Versailles Treaty seem generous was totally stupid, the majority of the Greek debt is non-collectable and further bailouts inevitable.
The solution has been obvious for over 5 years, Germany needs to leave the Euro and set up a new D Mark zone which other suitable members could join. Relieved of German membership, the Euro would devalue thereby bringing back some potential for economic growth in the peripheral mainly Mediterranean economies. The twin problems with this would be that German exports would be less competitive and if France remained within to lead the eurozone, the French economy would have a big surge which Germany may not like.
The second problem concerning mass migration illustrates just why “written constitutions” of any kind are a total pain in the butt when it comes to Realpolitik. Free movement of EU citizens needs immediate modification. Whilst any EU citizen can have the ‘right’ to work and settle in another EU country, this needs to be modified with some kind of “Prior notification/approval” system. Also it is high time that the EU and both Germany and France in particular, held to the rules they previously agreed with. The system was supposed to be that asylum was sought/granted in the first EU country the asylum seeker arrived in. Merkel was insane to act as she did which was a rallying cry for every desperate refugee with a smart phone. At one stroke she turned a bad problem into an impossible situation for all concerned.
Whilst I would agree that apart from the head bangers on both sides IN or OUT, the EU is a non issue for the vast majority of the UK electorate, this is no longer true. The combination of boat people and Greek bailouts have pushed public consciousness way beyond tabloid stories of Brussels and straight bananas and what they are seeing is an EU of total incompetence.
The default value in these sort of elections favours the status quo and my expectation would have been for a 60/40 vote to stay in but that has changed. It will not be lost on most UK voters that the million or so refugees that the EU will see from the Middle East might well decide that the UK might be a better choice for them in due course. Rightly or wrongly and given the high levels of immigration to the UK already from the EU, the result of this referendum will hinge on immigration. Despite the words of this US bank/politicians or ‘dire warnings’ from within the EU or credit agencies, the UK electorate might well vote 60/40 to leave.
I would suggest that it is less a matter of pandering to UK tabloid headlines and giving Cameron a “serious looking deal” to put before the UK electorate because it is already clear he will get nothing of substance out of this process. If the EU wants the UK to stay in, it needs to demonstrate that it is competent and prepared to take the hard decisions for the greater good and cease only thinking of Germany and France.
Because it has its own currency, the UK can afford to go its own way and whilst that will not be an easy choice, there will be costs. In the absence of the EU reforming itself to ensure its survival both politically and economically, it would be the right choice for the UK to leave, with or without Scotland remaining in the UK, that would be their choice.”