You might be forgiven for thinking that if we vote to leave the EU in June, it will happen. Of course we expect some foot stamping in Brussels, but within a year Britain would be out of the EU, trading on its own, restricting immigration, even talking about withdrawing from the International Court of Human Rights – not an EU institution. We may even be considering a new treaty with the Old Commonwealth, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, emphasising our joint Anglo Saxon inheritance.
Anybody who settled here before the referendum we will allow to stay, which will be as well since EU migrants, especially the Poles, are largely responsible for our recent economic recovery. Getting up on time, listening to your customers, going to church on Sunday and washing your neck are the essential activities that lie behind commercial success, activities no longer practiced by a substantial number of the British working class who prefer to stay in bed, unwashed and on benefits.
Leaving the EU is a dream of course. Most will vote to stay if they vote at all. The EU repeatedly comes bottom of the list of what worries people most. EU migration aside, they are grateful for free medical treatment and the capping of mobile phone charges throughout Europe. But they believe Cameron when he says if we leave every family will be £3500 worse off and the French will open the gates of Calais and thousands of Muslims will pour on to the South Coast.
And even if we vote to leave, the EU, like some mad old wife refusing to acknowledge it’s all over for a dreadful nagging marriage, will demand a new hearing of the divorce. Berlaymont will order Britain back to the ballot box and to keep returning until we give the ‘right’ answer. It did so when Ireland said ‘no’ to the Lisbon Treaty. In referenda held by France and Holland on the accepting the European Constitution it did the same. In France politicians went behind voters’ backs and reversed what they decided. In Holland a massive rejection vote was ignored. Even if we vote ‘yes’ we face the same. Martin Schultz has promised the European Parliament will vote down any conditions not to their liking.
Having come away almost empty handed from Brussels Cameron could have seized the chance of his political career and recommended leaving. We could then have practically anything we wanted. Europe’s politicians know the EU would collapse within a couple of years of us leaving, which is why Dave was treated like a political Ebola virus as he toured the continent. Better to close your eyes and ears to such a messenger of the obvious. A straight ‘No’ would open them.
But if we leave in June will the divorce go ahead? There is the question of alimony. Who contributed most to this rotten political marriage? Deciding that will be a lawyers’ feast compared with which the Bloody Sunday Massacre enquiry – £195 million to m’learned friends over twelve years – was pocket money. Every single treaty we signed, every tariff we set, every rule we agreed with the EU over the past fifty years, will be combed over. It will take years, and until it is over Brussels can claim we have not left, and are still subject to its rules. In the end like some desperate spouse who cannot get away from his wife, Britain will take refuge in the attic in the form of some special ‘arrangement’ with the EU, neither in nor out, perhaps with a separate entrance for special visa rights with the old Commonwealth.
The madness is that while most Britons object to free movement within the EU, a majority say they will vote ‘yes’ to stay in. Hasn’t any politician told them of the Great Immigration to come? Washington and Brussels are determined in the next few years to bring Turkey into the EU; Brussels to aggrandise itself, Washington to bind Turkey to the west in the face of Russia’s growing influence in the Middle East? First would come visa-free travel for Turkey’s seventy five million people followed by settlement rights. Now that is what I call free movement.
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