Outside the EU we could have less immigration or access to the single market—not bothby Peter Kellner / April 18, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more: Brexit would not damage UK security
I have a question for the advocates of Brexit. Actually, I have had the question for some time, and put it to leading members of the Vote Leave campaign, but not yet received a clear answer. It is this. Which matters more to you: full control of our borders, or full access to the European Union’s single market?
If we vote to leave the EU, it is easy to imagine how we might have one of them. Britain’s Prime Minister, whoever that is at the time, could say to Brussels: we shall decide for ourselves which immigrants shall be allow to settle in the UK; if that means you limit our ability to trade with you in goods, services and finance, that is a price worth paying.
Or we could tell the other 27 member states: unfettered access to the single market is paramount. We accept that this means we shall continue to abide by EU rules, including freedom of movement.
What we can’t do is raise the drawbridge to keep out people, but leave it down for goods, services and the City of London. The notion that the other 27 states will agree to both closed borders and open trade is for the birds. A choice must be made.
The Electoral Commission’s decision to choose Vote Leave as the official Brexit campaign tilts the decision towards the free-traders. Take UKIP’s two most prominent members. Its leader, Nigel Farage, helped to run the alternate campaign for Brexit, Leave.EU, and has built his career battling on immigration. In contrast its sole MP, Douglas Carswell, is far less bothered by immigration, backs free trade—and has supported Vote Leave from the outset.
Here’s the problem for Vote Leave. Most voters who back Brexit do so because of immigration. Many of them are aware of the risks to jobs and prosperity but are more concerned to see far fewer people settling in the UK. If we vote to leave the EU, these voters would demand quick and dramatic action to achieve this. They would be horrified if they were told, a few months down the track, “sorry, but to protect Britain’s economy, we…