EU Referendum: don’t use these leaflets

Richard North

Note: Short of a miracle, the No campaign is already lost. SIG

EU Referendum: don’t use these leaflets000a leaflet-017 calais.jpg

If the EU referendum is not to be held until the end of 2017 (or close to it), then we have over two years before we go to the polls. And it remains my belief that it will be that long.

Even if the poll is brought forward, it is still premature to run with a public campaign. If we go too early, people will be bored and become unresponsive to the message. In my view, therefore, we need to husband our strength and concentrate the campaign into the last three months.

In the interim, we have more than enough to be doing with planning, organising and building, plus the necessary skirmishing to test the strength of the enemy and to get a sense of his tactics.

To start now, as Ukip intends to do, aiming in the next fortnight to distribute two million copies of two leaflets, is in my view premature. Not only that, given the nature of the leaflets, the activity could be positively harmful – detracting from the overall effort.

Taking the first of the two (illustrated top), this shows people “trying to board a freight lorry in Calais heading for the UK”, telling us that, “as long as we remain in the EU, this will keep happening”.

That we have Ukip focusing on migration itself is bad news. The very last thing we want is this campaign focused on that subject. Doubtless, that was what created the glass ceiling for Ukip in the general election, robbing of any chance of electoral success. And now, it is planning to repeat the same mistake.

Worst still, the leaflet is grossly inaccurate, perpetuating what amounts to a lie. What is being shown are potential asylum seekers, but whatever their status, their presence owes more to the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees (and the 1967 Protocol) than it does EU law.

In term of the message conveyed by the leaflet, the UK leaving the EU could hardly affect the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean or the draw that the UK represents.

As the law stands, if these migrants manage to hide themselves aboard a lorry (is there such a thing as a “freight” lorry?), or otherwise get to the UK, and then surrender themselves to the authorities, they will be invoking the 1951 Convention. Leaving the EU will not change this.

But what makes this leaflet especially inept is that it ignores the reality of the situation, and the role of France.

Specifically, with the 1951 Convention in place, any person reaching UK soil and demanding asylum has to be processed by the UK authorities and, if they qualify, they must be given protection. Most, for various reasons, manage to remain in the UK.

Thus, the main line control is to keep them from gaining access to UK territory. And this is achieved, in respect of France, by way of the Le Touquet Treaty signed in February 2003.

This permits the UK to station immigration officers in ports on French soil, where they process passengers before departure. Potential asylum seekers are denied permission to travel and referred back to the French authorities for processing. That way, the UK is not forced to give them residence permits or provide them with housing and benefits.

With additional measures, these so-called “juxtaposed controls” have undoubtedly substantially reduced the inflow of migrants across the channel, especially as the agreement was later extended to the Eurostar terminal in Brussels.

Without the active and continued cooperation of European authorities, therefore, the problems we have would be inestimably worse. If the French withdrew their support, and open the port gates to asylum seekers, one ferry-load could exceed the entire annual total. And, if the UK left the EU without a negotiated deal (as some in Ukip would have us do), why should any continental authority want to help us? 000a leaflet-017 Merkel.jpg

Therein lies the stupidity of the position, and it doesn’t get much better with the second leaflet (above). The anti-German line may play well to some of the converted, but it’s a cheap shot and simply reinforces the “Xenophobe” image, with which the opposition is so keen to tarnish us.

Also disturbing is that the front faces of these leaflets do not carry any Ukip identification. Instead, they bear the legend “Say NO – believe in Britain”, thus purporting to represent the “no” campaign, which they do not. They do not speak in our name.

Thus, anyone who is tempted to comply with the Ukip request to distribute these leaflets really should think again. They do not convey a winning message and risk doing serious damage to the campaign. Furthermore, if you deliver them, you will be perpetrating a lie.

To Ukip generally, the message should be obvious, but it is not one to which they are disposed to listen. And this is why there are moves to exclude Ukip from the official campaign – if that is possible. And with this, the party seems to be intent on justifying those moves and making them even more necessary.

4 thoughts on “EU Referendum: don’t use these leaflets

  1. I’ve no doubt at all that the no campaign is a complete waste of time.

    If you want to see what will happen in the run up to the vote, just look back at the full-spectrum attack mounted by the ruling elite against UKIP in the year before this year’s election. As Sean says, barring a miracle the vote is already lost.

    But I do believe that the UK will be out of the EU sooner or later, because the organisation will simply collapse under its own weight. Greece is a tiny part of the EU, yet it precipitated a major crisis; as major countries begin to go the same way, as they will sooner or later, the whole thing will gradually unravel.

    As I’ve said before, the important challenge now is to think about what sort of a country the UK will be once the EU has faded away. It could regain its 19th century position as a bastion of free trade and liberalism, but on current trends it looks more likey to be an offshore replica of East Germany.

    We should not forget that many opponents of the EU resent the organisation not because it is illiberal or anti-free trade, but because it stands in the way of the authoritarian regime they hope to construct.

    • I particularly agree with the last paragraph. Take us out of the EU, and leave the rest of our political structure in place, and we’d become even more grotesquely tyrannical than is already the case. Leaving the EU needs to be part of an overall strategy of liberation, and is probably nowhere close to top of the list of things to be done.

  2. @right_writes:

    Why would we want to stop listening to Richard North when he is one of the most knowledgeable and perceptive eurosceptics around? He’s right. If these bovine UKIP-driven leaflets are a sign of things to come from the “No” campaign, then it is doomed from the start. Where’s the positive vision for a free Britain? Where’s the plan for Brexit? There isn’t one and “No” will lose because of it.

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