Soft Brexit: some thoughts on Roger Helmer’s analysis
For some time, I’ve been on the mailing list of Roger Helmer, the UKIP MEP. I have quite a lot in common with him. Through state funded scholarships, we both had unusual educations (and some would say “privileged,” though I’d disagree). We were both trained as mathematicians; and we have both rejected the prevailing political orthodoxy.
I’ve only been in the same room as Roger once – at an anti-EU meeting, at which he (and Sean Gabb) spoke, in the Conway Hall back in 2005. And I’m not comfortable with some of his views, notably his religious conservatism. Nevertheless, I regard him as a kindred spirit. So, I read what he writes in his e-mails. And when the moment is right, I’ll respond. Thus, this.
In his June newsletter, which unfortunately doesn’t seem to be on the Internet yet, Roger announces his retirement from politics. (Another rat deserting the sinking ship!) But he also makes the effort to clarify what Brexit is about. And he does it excellently.
Here is Roger’s parting shot, aimed at one Ruth Davidson (of whom I had never heard, until I received the e-mail. I don’t follow party politics).
She wants Britain to stay in the EU’s Single Market and/or Customs Union.
Let’s just think what that would mean:
- Remaining under the jurisdiction of the ECJ
- Much or most of EU laws, directives and regulations remaining in place
- Free movement stays
- Probably, CAP & CFP stay
- Continuing EU budget contributions
- Subject to the EU’s Common External Tariff and unable to make trade deals with third countries
Now, I’m well aware that some Brexiters consider item (3) in the above list the most important; in fact, the only important one. But as I’ve made clear many times, I disagree entirely.
Why did I vote Leave a year ago? To get rid of (2), (4) and (5). I want to see an EU regulations bonfire – and I want to see the environmentalists as the guy. Further: Why should farmers and fishermen be subjected to policies that harm them? And why should I, or anyone else, support a political and bureaucrat class that is a nett disbenefit to me and to everyone around me?
(6) is another I’d have voted for if I’d known about it at the time. (1) is an interesting one – the ECHR and ECJ have made some decent decisions, for example in the British Airways cross case and in declaring interception of our e-mails to be unlawful. Yet, despite these, their power rests on the EU, a corrupt organization that was mis-sold to the people of Britain (and, I suspect, to those in most other European countries too). So yes, the ECJ has got to go.
Which leaves (3). Some Brexiters, and many conservatives, disapprove of immigration on principle, particularly if the individuals are dusky-skinned or non-Christian. But as an individualist, I am utterly opposed to this idea. For me, people deserve to be accepted into or rejected by a society they want to join, not because of what they are, but because of what they do – how they behave. Not only that, but I fail to understand why free movement implies free immigration.
I do recognize that, for practical reasons, permanent immigration into particular areas must be controlled by those who live there; otherwise, the infrastructure will become overloaded, as is very apparent where I live. But that doesn’t mean that people, who want to come for a short period only, should be subjected to draconian formalities.
And most of all, the Irish border should be the test. If you’ve ever been to Strabane, you’ll know that the main town is in Northern Ireland, but it has a sister town across the border. What decent human being would want to subject the people, who live in that town, to controls and even searches every time they want to go to, or come back from, ASDA or Argos?
With all the talk of “hard Brexit” and “soft Brexit,” no-one seems to be putting forward a clear position on what Brexit ought to be. They’re all hedging their bets. But it seems to me that the following might suffice:
- Get out from under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
- All bad or unnecessary EU laws, directives and regulations to be repealed.
- Free movement for visitors, but immigration on a points based system.
- Leave Common Agricultural and Fisheries policies.
- Stop EU budget contributions.
- Start making trade deals with other countries. (Including EU ones). The more, the merrier! And deal with the rest under World Trade Organization rules.
14 June 2017