We don't actually need to have a referendum - there was no referendum to enter the EEC (EU) - and there needs to be no referendum to leave. Yet we must acknowledge that the reality of current political momentum which suggests strongly that our exit will hinge very decisively on one being called.
So should a referendum be called, we face an extremely unfair fight against a pro-EU and ignorant media (including the Express and the state broadcaster), an unfair fight against all of the main political parties, an unfair and dishonest fight against FUD and the need to overcome the "status quo" effect which has an inbuilt advantage of around 20%.
It's imperative therefore that there should be a reassuring policy on EU exit which attempts to alleviate any concerns. This involves invoking Article 50, parking the economic issue temporarily via EFTA/EEA membership, and campaigning on the political (democracy) issue alone giving us a fighting chance.
On Article 50 at least we thought that the UKIP's position was settled when Farage confirmed at least twice that the Article would have to be invoked. But despite being a one man party he clearly isn't in total command when UKIP literature is being distributed contradicting him in the run up to the Euro elections.
Such confusion and a lack of available policy on UKIP's website means the "Life on Mars" option is still alive and kicking as Witterings from Witney notes:
Yesterday evening The Boiling Frog and I spent some time on twitter trying to convince three Ukip supporters that that which they were tweeting was pure fantasy. We were presented with statements such as the old canard that repeal of ECA 1972 meant the UK was free of EU membership; that abrogation of ECHR would mean the EU would promptly rescind the UK’s membership of the EU; and that a new trade agreement could be placed on the table within 24 hours for signature. In our attempted ‘debate’ matters are not helped when it is suggested that I should Go and smoke another spliff – leave it for the rest of us to sort out the mess; neither when I am called a supercilious tit in the comments to this post. Such ignorance is indeed a tad terrifying.That somehow 40 years of integration and hugely complex international agreements can just be undone in 24 hours really does defy belief.
More crucially failure to confront the nature of our exit by UKIP inevitably leads to split messages. And split messages don't win referendum campaigns, in the same way split parties don't win elections as per the 1906 General Election when the Conservatives lost by a landslide which was largely attributed to a party split over free trade.
The lack of a policy by UKIP leads this rather incoherent interview with UKIP councillor - who defected to UKIP from the Tories - Suzanne Evans. She was asked by Andrew Neil on the BBC's Sunday Politics if UKIP had published a "roadmap" if the vote was a yes to leave.
Some argue that UKIP is an "amateur party" with limited funds in contrast to others, but that of course is no excuse. Seventeen shortlisted entrants to the Brexit prize produced papers on precisely that issue within four months including one from a 15 year old boy. A damning indictment on UKIP's failure to produce one in twenty years with well-paid MEPs.
As Christopher Booker observes in the Sunday Telegraph:
It is equally disturbing that a party founded on a desire to extricate us from the EU should have no properly worked-out policy for how this could be done. Ask Ukip what are the practical steps whereby we could achieve a successful exit from the EU, and the answer is little more than a blank stare and empty platitudes.Andrew Neil pressed Suzanne Evans further on whether UKIP had a "roadmap". Her answers remained very unconvincing stating that she's "not a legal expert on this" and that "we could come out quickly or there's a longer route as well". Then the question put to Suzanne was "but have [UKIP] published any of that detail". The response being;
"well...not, not that I have read but there are ways to do it..."Then Suzanne continues that UKIP want to revert back to 1975 to "what people voted for". This despite the EEC was never an economic project nor a common market. The Treaty of Rome makes this perfectly clear:
"Determined to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe"With Suzanne's statement to effectively revert back to a "golden age" that never existed she then gets caught out...Andrew Neil rightly asks her that the vote in 1975 involved the "free movement of people" which goes against a party which is now chasing the BNP vote on immigration. What a mess...
No doubt some will see this as another gratuitous anti-UKIP piece. My philosophy though was always been clear right from the outset when I joined the party - "my loyalty is to the cause not to any party". In its present guise UKIP are damaging the cause and for that reason I can no longer support them.
UKIP's current stance will lose us the referendum, the choice is increasingly becoming clear; it's either the party or EU exit. The two are no longer compatible.