Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Just leave

Readers may be agog to learn that the Taxpayers' Alliance (TPA) has just produced a booklet about the possibilities of EU treaty renegotiation, which it has posted on the internet for us all to read and applaud.

The wonderful thing about the internet is the opportunities it affords for dialogue, and thus the facility to learn a great deal from others' wisdom and experience. But one has to say of the TPA that, quite nobly, it has sacrificed these opportunities, in favour of treating the internet as a one-way conduit for transmitting its opinions, however wrong or ill-informed they may be.

And here one really must applaud the TPA. There are very few people who would have the sheer chutzpah to stand up in public (so to speak) and admit how little they actually know, and how little of the general wisdom and experience has percolated into their collective brains. That really takes balls.

As they broadcast from their self-imposed intellectual isolation, we thus find as one of their gems a repeat of the absurd assertion that the eurozone crisis "looks set to potentially trigger a treaty change" and that it "provides a broader opportunity for changing Britain's relationship with the EU".

It thus ignores the very obvious problem that the UK is part of the EU and that it is impossible to have a relationship with something of which one is part. But such subtlety is not for the TPA.

As to the substantive theme of the booklet, this is of course, fatally flawed. The "treaty change" – as is already very evident - is not going to provide an opportunity for treaty renegotiation. It never was, and the "colleagues" were always going to prevent it from happening.

This, unfortunately, completely negates the whole premise of the TPA booklet, rendering it redundant before it even hit the streets (or the internet). The TPA has been overtaken by events already, leaving it to provide only an illustration of a peculiar mindset and a world view that does not exist and never could, except in the imaginations of a particular sub-set of the London political bubblesphere.

That world view, interestingly, encompasses the idea that if moves to the sunlit uplands envisaged by the TPA are blocked by the "colleagues", the UK should withdraw from the EU and then "settle new terms from outside".

The thing is though, should we ever get to the happy situation where we have actually withdrawn from the EU, those terms will become pre-eminent. We will be in a situation where we will need to have prolonged negotiations to order our relationship with the EU member states, the nature of which needs to be set out in some detail.

Sadly, though, on this fascinating issue, we find the TPA strangely silent, leading to the conclusion that withdrawal is seen only as a threat, a bargaining counter. The real game is renegotiation – yet this is the very thing that is not actually on the cards.

Thus, we have again the curse of the europlastics – of which the TPA seem fully paid-up members. Unable to countenance the only realistic option – unilateral withdrawal – they chase after the chimera of renegotiation, creating ever more elaborate rituals by which they can convince themselves that the impossible can happen.

We wonder though, why the europlastics waste our time. The mood of the country is hardening, and people are crying out for clear messages on how we would go about withdrawing from the EU, and what a post-EU society should look like. Needless to say, in 29 pages, you will find nothing of either from the TPA.

Therefore, we need to give them our own message: "just leave". The time for messing about is over. In the meantime - despite Myrtle bleating to the same hymn sheet - can we please stop wasting time and start thinking about the sort of society we want to displace the political gangrene which gave us the EU in the first place?