Richard North, 12/05/2016  
 


As far back as 2012, I was writing in respect of any referendum campaign that "we must protect the Single Market, or we lose".

I had already held that view for some time and have held consistently, writing it into this piece and then this one two years ago, while also embodying it into Flexcit as one of the absolute principles from which we must not deviate.

Yet now, coming out of the woodwork - with not the slightest hint of equivocation and with no room for compromise – is Vote Leave, firstly in the form of Michael Gove and now Alexander (aka Boris) Johnson. Each of them has said that we must leave the Single Market, asserting that we must somehow continue to have "access" to it, as if that was actually possible.

This is the polar opposite of what I personally, and we as Leave Alliance, hold to be a central requirement of the campaign. That puts us totally at odds and, even if it is in a small way, splits the campaign message.

For those who demand unity – and there are many who do – they should take note that we were here first. We are not going to change our views on this issue, any more than we are going to accept that Mr Johnson is right to have his battle bus emblazoned with the thoroughly discredited lie that we send £350 million to Brussels each week.

We will no more accept this than his other lie - that leaving the EU could save us £600 million a week in regulation costs. This is a claim that last week Andrew Tyrie labelled as "absurd", and which has no merit whatsoever. And we are certainly not going with Mr Johnson on his low-grade "bendy banana" mantra, or his bitching about vacuum cleaners.

In short, with the Vote Leave campaign based on a web of lies,  there is scarcely a single aspect that we could endorse and much that we actively and wholeheartedly oppose. Their campaign is a negative, harmful to the cause.

That puts us in an impossible position. To continue our own campaign is actively to contradict Vote Leave – as indeed does Vote Leave contradict us. In the interests of unity, if that is considered paramount, one of us should shut up.

One alternative is for us to carry on with our own independent campaign, ignoring completely the activities of Vote Leave. But, where Vote Leave is basing its core campaign message on lies so transparent that even the opposition notices, this is not an option. Everything we say is being undermined. 

Furthermore, when it comes to the Single Market issue, Vote Leave is unable to offer any credible alternative to our strategy, and has refused at any time to engage in a debate on the issues. Its arrogance in asserting that it is the one true upholder of the faith is not acceptable.

Thus, we find ourselves in irresolvable conflict. The only real answer is for Vote Leave to get off its high horse and engage with co-campaigners. But that isn't going to happen. While it hosts "contact groups" (to which we have never been invited), these are an empty charade with not even a pretence of meaningful consultation.

Thus, while we are doing our very best to win this referendum, we are constantly being dragged down by the arrogance of Vote Leave. All we can do for the moment is point out that it is not campaigning in our name. It does not represent us and we do not agree with what it is doing. 

It must stop undermining the campaign and bringing us into disrepute. If it does not, I am not prepared to remain silent while I see my work destroyed.






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