David Miliband’s Silly Dream of a Second EU Referendum

Posted: August 16, 2017 by tallbloke in solar system dynamics

Ben Somervell points out the flaws in the call for a ‘second referendum’ on EU membership.

Ben Somervell's Brexit Blog

Here is the hyperlink to an article entitled “Miliband’s second referendum idea’s bananas” which I have just written for the “Comment Central” website. I have reproduced below the text of the article:

Former Foreign Secretary and former Labour leadership candidate, David Miliband, stated this week that he supports a second EU referendum and that he is trying to persuade MPs to fight for such a vote. Such a proposal is deeply flawed and does not wash with voters. This was shown in the fact that the Liberal Democrats’ (the only party to propose such a vote) vote share fell from 7.9 per cent in the 2015 General Election to just 7.4 per cent in the 2017 General Election. The party failed even to garner the support of the 22 per cent of voters who still think, despite the Brexit vote, that we should remain members of the EU and their…

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  1. tallbloke says:

    Please take the time to cut/paste your comments at Ben’s blog too.

  2. TinyCO2 says:

    David Miliband – the guy who lost the selection vote to the guy who lost the general election to the guy who led the losing side in the referendum. The guy who sides with the side that lost to just about everybody.

  3. tom0mason says:

    And it STILL says it all —

  4. oldbrew says:

    Sillyband in dreamland.

    Brexit: MPs overwhelmingly back Article 50 bill
    1 February 2017

    MPs have voted by a majority of 384 to allow Prime Minister Theresa May to get Brexit negotiations under way.

  5. Paul Vaughan says:

    On that epic day of independence last year when so much changed
    we all knew instantly — any of us who were sober and sensible — that their
    Thought 1 was
    Take 2.

    Hope for the best.
    Plan for the worst.

    It’s an opportunity to measure stability.
    Is it a marathon or a sprint??

    The major western fault is disinclined towards natural stability.

  6. Adam Gallon says:

    Our hope for the best, was that our MPs had enough ability to realise that 2 years was far too short a time for a bespoke solution, so transition through the EEA would be essential. Prepare for the worst? Good god, how do we prepare for us being treated as a “Third Country” under EU laws?

  7. tallbloke says:

    Adam G: There never was much hope of a sensible negotiation with the EU, which has to try to satisfy 27 nations competing interests. The simplest and best is to say, “We’re leaving on WTO terms, the door is open once you have an agreed proposal for something else.”

    That way, we leave with no £36billion bill to pay, our system of common law, our fisheries back, and our borders under immediate control.

    Any proposal the EU then comes with cannot assail these fundamental aspects of our sovereignty.

  8. oldbrew says:

    From: The Economist explains
    Jan 9th 2017

    ‘The WTO option may seem like an easy way out for post-Brexit Britain, but that road is in reality covered with bumps.’


  9. tallbloke says:

    I got halfway down the second paragraph of ‘The Economist’ explainer when I ran into this:
    Imagine that Britain decided that it wanted to boost support for its farmers by raising tariffs on farm products (perhaps they had lost out from reduced EU funding).
    And realised they are thicker than a bricky’s butty.

  10. @tallbloke
    A small minority of Brexiteers such as Tim Martin, Sir James Dyson and Lord (Nigel) Lawson think that it won’t be possible to negotiate a full, detailed and comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU by midnight on 29th March 2019 (the end of the two-year window created by the triggering of Article 50 on 29th March 2017) and so support leaving now with no deal. In my article “A quick UK-EU free trade deal is possible” (at: http://commentcentral.co.uk/a-quick-uk-eu-free-trade-deal-is-possible/) I explain the three unique advantages we have with regard to trade negotiations with the EU. These are 100% legal and regulatory equivalence now and on 1st April 2019 (day one after Brexit), having no trade barriers with the EU to negotiate away and already being the EU’s largest single market in the world and the EU’s most important export destination in the world. These three unique advantages should make a FTA with the EU quicker, simpler and more straightforward than most previous bilateral FTAs with the EU. Indeed the International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox MP, has said that a UK-EU free trade agreement should be the “easiest in human history”.

    It is clear that politicians in the UK and in the rest of the EU want a FTA with the UK and that they think such a deal is possible in the time frame. No Brexit deal would be very damaging to the EU and its member states, especially with regard to trade as I explain in my article “No Brexit Deal is Better than a Bad Deal ” (https://bensomervellsbrexitblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/08/no-brexit-deal-is-better-than-a-bad-deal/). Specific remarks from Michel Barnier, the EU’s current Trade Commissioner, the EU’s former Trade Commissioner and Latvia’s Prime Minister clearly show that the EU thinks a deal is desirable and possible within the time frame (please see my article at: http://commentcentral.co.uk/a-quick-uk-eu-free-trade-deal-is-possible/ to read their remarks).

    It may be that a transitional period is needed as an implementation phase and to negotiate some of the finer details of a FTA. However, this phase must not require the continuation of the freedom of movement of people or continued single market/customs union membership. As David Davis has said, “The end state [on 1st April 2019] determines the transition” and so we cannot have an off-the-shelf transitional model. Our transitional arrangements must be bespoke and specifically suited to us.

    I agree with you that the Government are starting to backslide on the Brexit vote with regard to the freedom of movement of people and on transition, particularly with regard to their desire to seek a temporary customs union with the EU during the transitional period. This has got worse since the Tories lost their majority as the crucial line “No Brexit deal is better than a bad deal” is now less widely supported in Parliament. One of the many reasons why I opposed Theresa May’s leadership bid from the start was that she campaigned and voted to remain and was that she strongly supports the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) and so I thought that a Government led by her would less likely to efficiently deliver a clean Brexit.

    However, I’m afraid that I must disagree wth you in that I don’t think the solution to this is for us now to walk away from negotiations altogether with no deal at all. The Government should not aim for no deal but it should state that we’ll leave with no deal if the EU were unwise enough to only offer us a punitive deal.

    Leaving now with no deal would lose us the support of remain voters which we’ve just attracted. According to YouGov, 68% of all voters want the Government to get on with Brexit, up from 51.9% in the referendum last year and 68% of all voters think we should leave both the EU and its internal market. Almost all leave voters also want a FTA with the EU. Since the Brexit vote, UKIP have proposed leaving the EU by immediately repealing the European Communities Act, 1972 (the piece of domestic legislation which first took us into the EU’s predecessor) without ever invoking Article 50. This is the main reason why I and many other (often long-term) Brexiteers didn’t vote for UKIP at the General Election. Such a policy would erradicateour legal and regulatory equivalence with the EU (one of our unique significant advantages in trade talks), crush any hope of legal continuity and certainty for businesses and would likely thwart any prospect of FTA with the EU for the foreseeable future.

    Withdrawing from the EU without ever invoking Article 50 would violate European law under the Treaty of Lisbon and international law under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

  11. tallbloke says:

    Ben, by and large I accept your analysis, and regret the Gerrard Batten line of thought dominating the UKIP 2017 manifesto. Although I’m maybe I’m a bit more of an old school hard nosed negotiator prepared to take more risks, I think that if we did leave on WTO terms, it wouldn’t be very long at all before the EU came to us with a free trade proposal based on the very points you mention about already being in harmonisation with their regulations.

    The point is they’d have to come to us, and so wouldn’t be in a position to demand concessions, fishing rights, bags of gold, or other irrelevant extras.

  12. oldbrew says:

    If the EU applied any tariffs at all to UK goods after Brexit, (how) would such tariffs be applied at the Northern Ireland-Irish Republic border, i.e. incoming to the EU?

  13. @tallbloke
    All good negotiators take risks – a lot of business and investment involves taking risks. It was a risk to state that “No [Brexit] deal is better than a bad deal” but it was not an unnecesary risk and the Government is and has been preparing for no Brexit deal.

    I agree with your sentiment about wanting to leave as soon as possible and wanting to capitalise on all of the great advantages of Brexit in terms of trade, regulations, money, laws and borders as soon as possible.

    I also agree – we definitely couldn’t make any concessions as there’d be no negotiation if we just immediately left which is currently attractive with the talk of a temporary customs union, etc… However, for me, this is actually a reason to completely stick to our negotiating red lines and insist that “no deal is better than a bad deal”.

    I’m afraid I’m not sure if I agree with the following (which you said in your comment) “if we did leave on WTO terms it wouldn’t be very long at all before the EU came to use with a free trade proposal based on the very points […] about already being in harmonisation”. This is for two reasons:
    1) If we were to suddenly leave the EU now without first passing the Great Repeal Bill, we would not have legal or regulatory equivalence as most EU laws and regulations specifically relates or refers to the EU and/or its connected regulatory bodies, etc… which we will no longer be members of. These laws and regulations will, therefore, no longer apply in the UK and we would lose our equivalence. Leaving without passing the Great Repeal Bill would leave us with a uncertain legal blackhole and would, as even the current Brexit Minister, former Chair of “Conservative for Britain” (Brexit campaign group within the Tory Party), Brexit campaigner and voter, Steve Baker MP, has said leave us with “a hole in the statute book”. The Great Repeal Bill is all about “certainty, continuity and control” (Baker) needs to be passed to ensure that our UK statute book is both complete and workable after Brexit. 59% of all of our laws originated from the EU in the first place and all of those laws, if piled up would be equal to the height of Nelson’s Column. “There are believed to be 12,000 EU regulations (one type of EU law) in force [in the UK], while Parliament has passed 7,900 statutory instruments implementing EU legislation and 186 acts which incorporate a degree of EU influence” (BBC News). The total body of European law was, in 2010, estimated to consist of about 80,000 items (BBC News). This will be Parliament largest ever legal challenge and will take at least a year and it is vital that this challenge is completed in time for Brexit. The Government has estimated that it will need to use 800 to 1,000 statutory instruments just to get the statute book ready.
    2) When he went before the European Scrutiny Committee just after his dismissal, Sir Ivan Rodgers rightly, in my view at least, said that the EU would not, in the foreseeable future at least, give us a free trade deal if we were to suddenly leave the EU now with no deal. They could see it as us rudely snubbing them and stating that we don’t need them and that we don’t care about their interests or those of their member states and thus wouldn’t take kindly to such a move. They may then hold a long-term grudge and refuse to give us a free trade deal.
    3) This negotiation is not just about trade. There needs to be negotiation around possible continuation of European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC), aviation (the Open Skies Agreement), etc… There are also important so-called “divorce issues” such as the rights of UK nationals living in the EU and those of EU nationals living in the UK, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and the so-called Brexit “divorce bill”.

  14. p.g.sharrow says:

    No deal is better then a bad deal.

    If there is no deal the opposite side has an incentive to seek a deal agreement. In a bad deal there is no incentive for the opposition to allow a better deal to be negotiated. Believe me, once you are screwed.there is no going back! All of your leverage is before the agreement is reached, not afterwards.

    Britain was sweet talked into joining the EU and then Brussels bureaucrats said ” you belong to us, submit and pay!.” How many Divisions of troops does Brussels command?

    “Divorce Bill” ! ***** insist, they owe you!

    Now that is real negotiation leverage.

    For 300 years the British have been blocking one “want to be” Continental Emperor or another from conquest of their weaker neighbors. Brussels Bureaucrats want conquest by submission,”enslave yourselves to our rule making and we will let you join our club little!”

    You Don’t Need them!

    Rejoin the Anglo – American Empire. It may well have a future. The European Union has none…pg

  15. I do not see what is wrong with having a second referendum on what negotiations turn out.

    Democracy keeps being quoted and yet when that is precisely what is being proposed it is shot down.

    Keep reading about business people and how they negotiate and yet it they adopted the style and end decisions they quote for Brexit I am surprised that they are still in business.

    The discredited Liam Fox keeps on being quoted as a source of knowledge beyond reproach check out is dealings with Atlantic Bridge, along with other Brexiteers.
    Others quote how the EU Politics get rich and yet NO one raises questions as to how our own politicians get rich.

    Quotes as to how many MPs voted for article 50 and how many actually support Brexit did not match at the time and are even further apart now that they can see that the “easy negotiations” could cause the UK to be much poorer.

    It quickly became clear to the general public, that these Brexit Politicians were liars and that what they thought they were voting for was admitted as “Fake”. What I cannot understand is that in any other walk of life, such Lies would undermine any contractual obligations and if the contract went ahead and ended in financial losses then there would without doubt be a Court case.

    I am fully supportive of Lord Sugar, these lying scheming politicians should be held accountable for what they promote and even day to day statements which are incorrect should be withdrawn NOT spun into another lying version.

    I will go one further than David Milliband and say that the referendum should be rerun on the basis that the outcome is totally flawed, devoid of honesty and integrity. The reasons for all the arguments we are having now is clear, there was NO discussion/debate/information of what Brexit would mean. The lies have gone with a magical flash in a pantomime.

    Most certainly, any real and sensible discussion now, is still being stifled, basically because Brexiteers know that if the truth does get clear, honest coverage then those people who are NOT going to get any of the things which they were promised, those people who were given the impression that there would be jobs and their lifestyles would improve, will most certainly change their mind, some already have.

    Latest forecast: The £ will reach parity with the € to be followed by the £ lowering further against the € on the $ basis similar levels of lowering value are expected/forecast.

    Yes you guys, the EU is a a failure, it is going to implode, that may well be so at some point in the next 10 years, however the UK is going to begin to sink in the next few months.

    If we change track there will be some Financial Speculators betting billions on the £ going down who get there fingers burnt, or are those speculators the ones who gave £millions to Leave. campaign.

  16. @p.g.sharrow
    I very much agree with you that “No [Brexit] deal is better than a bad deal” and I have written an article on solely explaining why this is the case. You can read it here: https://bensomervellsbrexitblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/08/no-brexit-deal-is-better-than-a-bad-deal/

  17. @p.g.sharrow
    I was simply saying in my earlier comments that the UK Government should not *aim* for no deal or suddenly walk away from the negotiating table altogether now with no deal at all unless we are only offered a punitive deal which requires concessions such a huge so-called Brexit “divorce bill”, the freedom of movement of people and ECJ jursidiction.

  18. @oldbrew
    In the highly unlikely scenario of no Brexit deal at all, tariffs would indeed be applied to all UK exports to the EU regardless of which border they cross and regardless of which of the four constituent nations of the UK (Northern Ireland, Scotland, England or Wales) they are being exported from.

    If there were no deal, tariffs would also be applied to all EU imports to the UK, regardless of which border they cross into the UK and regardless of the exact final export destination within the UK.

    It’s worth remembering that customs checks are already carried out on the border between Northern Ireland (one of the four constituent nations of the UK which will, after Brexit, be outside of the EU) and the Republic of Ireland (an EU member state) but they are currently carried out very lightly.

    There has been a Common Travel Area between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland since 1923 (way before the EU’s free movement policy began in 1992) and checks have been carried out as lightly as possible since then. The question then becomes how can we end free movement when there is a soft border between an EU member state (the Republic of Ireland) and Northern Ireland (a constituent nation of the non-EU UK). The Conservative MEP, leave campaigner and author, Dan Hannan, wrote an excellent article on this very question here: https://www.conservativehome.com/thecolumnists/2016/09/daniel-hannan-my-one-worry-about-brexit-that-if-we-mess-things-up-we-could-harm-relations-with-ireland.html

  19. tallbloke says:

    Have you had a look at the IEA’s report on a no-deal outcome yet Ben?

  20. @tallbloke
    Thanks for the hyperlink. Yeah I’ve skim read it but it only talks about trade. It never mentions the huge legislative challenge which will, as I said earlier, take at least a year and it doesn;t mention aviation, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the rights of UK citizens living in the EU and rights of EU citizens living in the UK or EHIC.

  21. oldbrew says:

    @ Ben S

    Re ‘The question then becomes how can we end free movement when there is a soft border between an EU member state (the Republic of Ireland) and Northern Ireland (a constituent nation of the non-EU UK).’

    That’s the UK question as it were, but won’t the EU have a similar problem? Whatever policy it applies to NI / RoI border crossings, it has to apply equally everywhere else in the EU where British goods or travellers arrive – in theory at least, unless it specifically agrees to make Ireland a special case.

    At the moment the UK seems to be saying to the EU: we don’t need any new Irish border rules, but if you do, they will be your rules.

  22. @oldbrew
    Thanks for your reply comment. I think the EU may well make Ireland a special case as they very strongly supported the peace process. We controlled immigration from both the rest of Europe and the rest of the world very well from 1923 (when the Common Travel Area began) to 1992 when the Maastricht Treaty (which introduced the freedom of movement of people between the EU and the UK) was ratified. This just shows that the complexity is caused by the EU’s freedom of movement policy which the Republic of Ireland to have to have but which Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK will no longer have.

    If you haven’t yet read Hannan’s article in full, I’d strongly recommend it.

  23. tallbloke says:

    The Hydrogen Answer at 10:51am: I do not see what is wrong with having a second referendum on what negotiations turn out.

    We already had the second referendum on June 23 2016, we voted to leave the EU.
    It took 40 years to get the second referendum. By all means campaign for a third, but don’t whine if it takes the same amount of time to get it.

  24. oldbrew says:

    The next referendum would be on whether Britain should apply to join the EU again.
    – – –
    @ Ben S
    Thanks for the comment. I did read Hannan.

  25. Paul Vaughan says:

    OB wrote:

    “The next referendum would be on whether Britain should apply to join the EU again.”

    Simple, sensible, solid, concise. Complexity neatly averted. Winning argument.

  26. Paul Vaughan says:

    Ben S, you paint a broad, easy target for a sharp leader by underscoring ridiculously extreme over-inflation of legislative challenges. A line from a Cake song comes to mind: “uses a machete to cut through red tape”. Unstoppable, strict, razor-sharp tactical intent to reduce the red tape to 1% or less appears necessary.

  27. @Paul Vaughan
    Thanks for commenting. All of the statistics which I quoted and cited in my earlier comment are factually true and are from objective sources. The Great Repeal Bill simply seeks to transfer all existing EU law and all future EU law up until midnight on 29th March 2019 into UK law and seeks to leave the statute book in a complete and workable conditions. This is widely seen as the largest legislative challenge in UK history and it will take at least a year to complete.

  28. @Paul Vaughan and if we don’t transfer all EU law into UK law, we will lose our 100% legal and regulatory equivalence with the EU which is one of our unique and shuge advantages as we go into trade talks with the EU as I explain in my article at: http://commentcentral.co.uk/a-quick-uk-eu-free-trade-deal-is-possible/

  29. Paul Vaughan says:

    The time looks ripe for a politician promising simplification.

  30. tallbloke says:

    Paul, we keep trying. Nobody is listening.
    Labour: “We pretend it’s complicated so we don’t have to come off the fence and piss off half our voters'”
    Tories: “We pretend it’s complicated so we can bamboozle the public into accepting a deal which is in our donor’s interests, not theirs”
    Libdems: “We pretend it’s too complicated to be achieved, so we should stay in the EU.”

    UKIP: “Get on with it ASAP! Out first, deals later”

  31. Hi again everyone. If you enjoy my blog posts and articles, please would you consider sending me a review of my blog on a private message on Twitter (my Twitter handle is @bensomervell1) so I can then post the reviews on my blog? The review can be up to a short paragraph at most and please could you include your full name and your profession/Brexit links at the end in brackets.Thanks.

  32. tallbloke says:

    Or just post them here so Ben can copy them. Cheers.

  33. Paul Vaughan says:

    TB wrote, “Paul, we keep trying. Nobody is listening.”

    The unreasonable legislative burden scars the EU’s image like a self-inflicted acid attack. It’s too offensive and on principle it’s not acceptable.

    With an open mind I will say a prayer for you, the good people of the European mainland, and the good people of the UK.

    It would look very, very good on the EU if it seized this high-profile opportunity to express gracious, good-nature towards UK neighbors.

    Surely there must be some good people in the EU with reserve potential to influence if and when necessary. It would be through them — not through loud UK politicians and activists — that course could be corrected efficiently.

    The efficient levers available (it’s as simple as a key individual making a powerfully symbolic gesture of good will) are on the European mainland. My suggestion is find a way maybe with outside help (maybe China, maybe US, maybe both) to inspire a European gesture of good will towards UK neighbors.

    In negotiation smart loss for smart gain.

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