“Associate membership” of the EU
is a third rate offer

There is likely to be a soft-sell of “Associate membership” of the EU from now until the referendum. It has already featured in all of the newspapers (no coincidence), gaining a sympathetic hearing from The Times and The Telegraph and it has been discussed on a number of established political websites.

It also featured on Radio 4 which discussed the “two speed Europe” and implied that an offer of “associate membership” would bring an end to the notion of “ever closer union” and result in a new structure of the EU with two distinct classes of membership.

However, there can be nothing binding about a promise, written or otherwise, that the second class members – including Britain – would be excluded from integration. Political pledges can be broken or reversed at will, and the idea that such a promise could be in any legally binding is risible.

There is no guarantee that the UK will not be steadily integrated further into the EU as it completes the supranational government and increasingly seeks to act as a nation in itself. Full members and “associate” members would be travelling at different speeds, but they would still be heading in the same direction.

I am quite sure that we will secure some minor “concessions” and empty promises that can be sold to the electorate as victories of negotiations and part of a “new deal”, but any such concessions will not alter the most important – and unalterable – fact.

The EU is and will always be the supreme authority. It will retain exclusivity over many key areas of policy; negotiating trade agreements on our behalf, signing international treaties we would have the ability to veto if we were independent.

It will hinder us from having the dynamism, agility and adaptability to be a leading free trading nation in the modern globalised world. When we want something, we cannot go direct, we have to go begging to the EU middleman to act on our behalf.  There is a global single market emerging, breaking down barriers and facilitating free trade, we should be spearheading this, but do not have the power to do so.

This is not going to change, anyone proposing otherwise is either deluded or being deliberately dishonest (and you should be suspicious of their motives). The will not surrender power, it cannot contradict what is in its very DNA, it will only retain and expand its power.

The BBC floated the idea – already being discussed tentatively across the media – that other European states may seek the much ballyhooed “associate membership”, and that there may actually be no need for any “re-renegotiation”, as the EU will create this new settlement that we can sign up for willingly.

This is a subtle way of stating the obvious, which is there are no negotiations going on, nor will there be, and this “new deal” has already been decided and the only thing left to achieve is for the government propaganda machine to sell it to the British public. What is being sold is a formalisation of second class status within the union, a second rate influence in Europe and a third rate (at best) influence in the world.

If that means the prime minister and the like minded members of the government and wider party have to tell bare face lies then that is what they will do, backed up by remain campaigners.

This is no longer just a choice between leave and remain, but a vote of confidence in David Cameron and his proposal for the future of Britain. Victory depends on the success of the basic deceit that he can secure a genuine looser association with the EU which both prevents deeper integration and ensures we are not marginalised and put in a situation in which we find our influence in Europe and the world diminished.

Brexit advocates have to discredit his arguments, his proposition, even the man himself, if they want to begin building towards a new future as an independent nation state.

There is no “new deal” on the table, and no negotiations. Only we can offer a new relationship with the EU, but the first stage in the process of achieving this is to leave. The vision of an independent Britain leading in the globalised modern world is a compelling one, and the Referendum Planning Group has a plan to get us there.

Ben is a writer, editor and Brexit campaigner. He advocates a counter-revolution to achieve the restoration of constitutional liberty and national independence. He blogs at The Sceptic Isle. Follow him on Twitter: @TheScepticIsle

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The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty