Referendum – 24 days to go
If you are not registered to vote – you must register by 7th June 2016
Financial Times Poll Tracker: Remain 46% – Leave 41% – Don’t Know 13%
William Hill Odds: Remain: 1/6 – Leave: 4/1 and for a long shot: Scotland Vote Leave: 10/1
The Gove/Johnson Letter
The Poison Dwarf (Gove) and The Clown (Johnson) have written an open letter to the Prime Minister published in the Sunday Times (behind a paywall) demanding that he ditch his manifesto pledge on net migration.
In one respect the letter is bogus. A Conservative Manifesto is not a personal statement, whether of of the Prime Minister or of anyone else. It is the product of a committee drawn from and consulting with the Westminster MP’s. It is the Party’s manifesto.
Therefore, since Gove was a Secretary of State and a Member of the Cabinet, he can hardly complain about the Party Manifesto for which he had collective responsibility and on which he stood for election.
Of course, in a factual sense, Gove and Johnson are right. For so long as the UK is a Member of the European Union, the Free Movement Rules apply to EU Citizens and their dependants. Therefore the circumstances where admission of an EU citizen to the UK can be refused or withdrawn are limited by those Rules.
Gove and Johnson knew that net migration targets can only apply to non-EU applicants and they must be taken to have known this at the time the Manifesto was produced.
This letter is nothing more than a fairly outrageous piece of propaganda produced by the Vote Leave campaign and, as discussed below, it perhaps heralds a switch in tactics.
Migration and free movement are not new concepts. When the two Crowns of England and Scotland were united, a consequence was that Scots were entitled to come South and work. As a Scot, Gove should be well aware of the longstanding free movement complaint in England: “Hadrian built the Roman Wall, to keep the Scottish out. But he did not build it high enough, or wide enough or thick enough – and look at us today!” There is something to be said for appointing Gove as Secretary of State for Scotland (residing IN Scotland) after the Referendum
The Observer has a strong story which is worth reading in full:
“A poll commissioned for the Observer and carried out by Ipsos MORI, which drew responses from more than 600 economists, found 88% saying an exit from the EU and the single market would most likely damage Britain’s growth prospects over the next five years…..A striking 82% of the economists who responded thought there would probably be a negative impact on household incomes over the next five years in the event of a Leave vote, with 61% thinking unemployment would rise.”
The Andrew Marr Show
All of this news was discussed on the Andrew Marr Show this morning and if you missed it, it is on the BBC I-Player and it well worth watching.
The Journalist, Amanda Platell, was on the show. She explained that the Vote Leave campaign had had a meeting and decided to switch tack to the Immigration because they had realised they had lost the economic case for Brexit. She thought this was a pity because Vote Leave had not wanted to campaign on the UKIP case. Liam Fox MP (who supports Vote Leave) followed and agreed that the Party manifesto commitment to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands was not one that could have been met. (Yet, of course he too had campaigned on that manifesto). However, some of what he said was sensible.
Thoughts on the Post Referendum Approach
Andrew Mitchell, who was formerly a Conservative whip, has a sensible article on the Conservative Home blog. It concludes with this:-
“We were elected last year as a progressive One Nation Government. The result came as a joyous surprise to many of us. So after the 23rd, our constituents will expect – nay demand – that we pursue with vigour policies which promote social mobility and cohesion and make consumer capitalism work for the many. Quite apart from reducing and eliminating the deficit, we must chart our country’s passage through the sea of international turbulence and misery which is the Middle East – with all its consequences for Europe and for Britain.
It is not necessary to look in the crystal ball to define the consequences for our Party forming a circular firing squad and continuing to obsess about the European Union thereafter. We did it in 1992, and it was 23 years before we next won an election. The electorate on this occasion will never forgive us if we behave as we did then. And they will be right. Those of my Parliamentary colleagues who feel the temptation to do otherwise should go and lie down in a darkened room until the feeling passes.”
That seems to be good advice.