As predicted in earlier posts on this blog the UK is heading for the worst of all worlds compared to retaining full membership of the EU. Boris Johnson, in a staggering u-turn, has effectively accepted a 'Norweigian' solution whereby we are bound by the EU's rules (including free movement of labour) except that the UK will have no say in making the rules to which we will be subject! See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36637037
But at least the British experience will dissuade others from trying the same!
Of course the protection of the economy and the rights of free movement of people are important, vital, objectives, and indeed this concession may take some of the sting out of the Scottish Government's challenge (see previous post). However papering over the cracks torn in the national fabric created by an unnecessary and ill-fought referendum will now be achieved at a terrible political cost. Besides the evisceration of UK influence in and outside the EU, UKIP will be given a major boost as that they will now claim that they have been sold out by Boris Johnson and others in the new Government.
Of course Johnson is trying to make out that somehow Britain will increase controls over migration into this country. This surely must be cloud cuckoo land. The idea that the EU is now going to give into British demands now that they are not in the EU to a greater extent than if we are members is itself nonsense. To imagine that the EU are now going to concede to the Swiss in their arguments with the Swiss over immigration controls and anybody else order to agree terms with the UK is the most fanciful of all proposition. The EU are not about to change the whole basis of the original Maastricht Treaty in 1992 for the sake of some trade deal with the British.
'Open Europe' have given a simple explanation of Norway and Switzerland's position at http://openeurope.org.uk/intelligence/immigration-and-justice/norway-and-switzerland/
But now we face the whirlwind of rising xenophobia. UKIP represents the 'respectable' face of this movement, while in the wings the English Defence League and other far right movements harass people perceived be a 'foreigner'. But as we go into the General Election UKIP will now be presenting itself as the 'guardian' of the Leave vote. Many right wing Tories will be torn between supporting them and the Tory leadership. The result looks like the UK is turning in a very short period from being a tolerant country to just another state with a rising tide of racism and xenophobia.
As UKIP's influence expands, so does their influence over policies, such as green issues, over which they have little real support among the population, but which damage society and the environment.
The terrible irony is that one of, perhaps the main, architect of this situation, Boris Johnson, is set to take over the leadership of the country!
I hate to say 'I told you so' but check out what I wrote near the end of March at http://realfeed-intariffs.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/how-brexit-could-make-ukip-largest.html
UKIP is successfully hijacking the support of many poorer sections of the population on the basis of the age-old technique of 'blame the foreigner'.
A few days ago I was reading a good popular account of British history written by the archaeologist David Miles (The Tribes of Britain, Phoenix, 2006) and on page 340, he describes conditions in England in the late 17th century. That period saw the arrival in the UK of many 'Hugenot' people fleeing persecution in France. He wrote on page 340:
'The arrival of Hugenot workers did not meet with universal approval. People complained that they worked too cheaply, drove up the rents and the prices of timber and coal, polluted rivers, ate strange food - such as garlic, snails, oxtail soup and root vegetables. The number of refugees was exaggerated. Popular prejudice blamed them for the Great Fire of London in 1666, and illogically assumed that they were papist agents of the powerful french state'.
So what's new today?
Well, a new twist is that the power and influence of Germany is increasing, ironically, precisely at a period when the Germans want to be part of a democratic Europe. In effect they are being forced to take a leadership position they do not want.
We read about how there are a stream of countries lining up to have referenda about leaving the EU. Well, usually far right parties are saying that - will they get into power? Will any other EU political leader do a Cameron? Maybe not after the growing chaos and ludicrousness that is represented by the British example.
But there would be a growing absurdity if this happened. Like the UK, they would leave, then come to a trade agreement with the EU that would mean they would have to accept EU rules over which they had no control. Imagine it, an increasing number of countries leaving the EU and economic decision-making to Germany!
It's ludicrous, I know.
The reality is that Europe is now so interconnected that it is extremely difficult for one country, even as big as the UK to simply walk away. But, now we have three important countries, Norway, the UK and Switzerland who have decided to give away their effective sovereignty over wide ranges of policy areas to a body over which which they have no control leaving a reluctant Germany to make decisions on their behalf!
Germany - the sovereign power in Europe by default!