14 Jan 2016

Vote Leave campaign director opposes Article 50 if people vote to leave

If a group campaigns for people to vote leave at the referendum, and voters then do so, most people would expect that group to support David Cameron invoking Article 50 to give notice that Britain is leaving the EU and commence a negotiation of the terms of the post-Brexit relationship between Britain and the EU.

But that isn't the case with the Vote Leave group.

Writing in the Spectator, James Forsyth tells readers that Project Fear is being deployed to scare voters into choosing to remain in the EU. In his piece he says:
One option gaining favour is proposing a second referendum, so voters can see the final terms of exit should Britain decide to leave. This may encourage more to vote Out first time around. But Downing Street is confident that it can crush the idea of a two-vote referendum by saying that, if Britain votes out, Cameron will invoke Article 50 — the formal and irreversible two-year process by which a country leaves the EU. To re-inforce this point, other EU leaders will make it clear that a vote to leave will mean precisely that. (Though given how disastrous Brexit would be for the whole European project, and the EU’s habit of making countries vote again, these warnings will not be entirely credible.)
Only in the Westminster village is there any talk of a second referendum, and Cameron's Article 50 timeline isn't given, but setting that aside, Cameron's response is as it should be. If voters decide at the referendum to vote leave, then the government should carry out the voters' wishes and begin the Brexit process.

You would think Vote Leave would be delighted by this. But in response to Forsyth's report, Vote Leave's campaign director, Dominic Cummings tweeted:

Cummings' comment should make people ponder this question, why get people to Vote Leave then oppose the very negotiation process that sees Britain leave the EU and creates post-Brexit relationship, describing it as 'mad' and comparing it to 'putting gun in your mouth & pulling trigger'?

The answer is it only makes sense if Vote Leave do not want Brexit. It only makes sense if Vote Leave's purpose for getting voters to vote leave is so the government uses it as leverage for more crumbs from the EU table as part of the reform agenda, after which a second referendum (which Cummings wants) aims to get voters to approve an updated reform deal so that Britain remains in the EU. That is the Vote Leave group's objective and that is why they doggedly refuse to call for an actual Brexit, never talking about anything beyond the referendum vote.

Time and again supporters of Vote Leave have declared the group wants Britain to leave the EU. Time and again I have asked them to show me any evidence that supports that claim. Every time they are left floundering, saying only that the clue is in the name and why else would the group want people to vote leave unless leaving was the aim.

Over a period of months this blog and others have published evidence in the form of the statements by Vote Leave leadership and their affiliates that Vote Leave isn't working towards Britain leaving the EU. Presented with the news that Cameron would accept a leave vote and begin the Brexit process, Vote Leave's campaign director has gone postal. It's not the response of someone who would be getting what his group's supporters think he wants.

For the avoidance of doubt, here is Cummings in his own words, setting out what he sees as the purpose of a 'no' vote and what should follow it and why:

No Brexit. It has never been what Cummings and his boss Matthew Elliott wanted or intended to happen.