Generally I have a high regard for Andrew Lilico. But in a recent blog piece on ConHome, he seemed to be arguing that we’ve won the argument about EU membership, we’re practically “OUT” already, we can open the champagne and sit back. I think that’s a very dangerous view. But I thought you might enjoy an exchange on the Comment thread:
Roger – Andrew here. (a) I’m sure you must grasp that once the EU federation is in place our status “within” the EU will be essentially the same as Norway’s status “outside”. So calling us “in” or “out” will be just a matter of semantics. Our EU membership will, in the terms we knew it, be over. (b) I don’t agree that the get-outer vision is by any means coherent. Get-outers know they want to leave the EU, but they typically have no particular concept of what to do next. If you are one of those I identify as believing that the UK should withdraw from world affairs and simply trade with all on an equal basis, with no aspiration to combine with other medium-sized countries to increase our weight in world affairs, then fine – but since Britain has been centrally involved in world affairs for the past 350 years and there’s no way it’s going to stop being so soon, I can’t treat that vision very seriously. As we’re going to leave the EU, we should be looking for some alternative mates, and I have rarely heard almost anything credible from get-out-ers as to who those are.
Andrew: You can’t make definitive statements about what our status will be, before we’ve even started the negotiation. Your suggestion that it’s all over bar the shouting, and that there’s nothing to worry about, is downright dangerous — we’re entering the rapids, the outcome is uncertain, and we need utmost effort and vigilance.
Your suggestion that I believe that Britain “should withdraw from world affairs” is so wide of the mark as to be breathtaking. We’re on the UN Security Council, the OECD, the World Bank, NATO, the Commonwealth, and innumerable other international organisations. When we leave the EU, we’ll have a voice on the WTO again. We’re a great global trading nation. To suggest that leaving the EU is to “withdraw from world affairs” is preposterous. Say rather that we’ll be re-joining world affairs, having for decades been buried in the belly of the Brussels beast.
Of course I agree that we should look for alternative alliances and trade deals — see my Commonwealth blog. But let’s be clear: as of today, we’re still bound by the EU Treaties. We should not let our enthusiasm for the Commonwealth, or the Anglosphere, or NAFTA, blind us to the job in hand — re-establishing our national independence.