NOW that the British government has declared that the Cameron agreement with the EU was a masterstroke, and that he is totally supportive of the country remaining within the European club, the statements and counter statements have started.
A government sponsored report issued so quickly that it disproves the concept that civil servants spend all of their time drinking tea and dreaming of knighthoods, has given plenty of ammunition to both sides of the argument.
The basic concept of the report is that ‘Article 50’ of the Treaty on European Union says that any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements, and that it has two years to negotiate an alternative relationship with Brussels and its 27 members.
2 million is the number of expats estimated to be living in the EU of which a large number would be eligible to vote.
What the report goes on to say is that the average time to negotiate trade agreements and the like can be more than eight years, and it concludes that it would take at least 10 years before all agreements could be signed with all parties, but if there are only two years to negotiate then expats living and working within the EU could find themselves in serious difficulty.
This gave David Lidington, the Europe minister, the chance to warn that a British exit from the bloc would be a “massive” risk and “everything we take for granted about access to the single market” would be in question.
He said: “Trade deals between the EU and other countries and bilateral trade deals of any type normally take six, seven, eight years and counting. Everything we take for granted about access to the single market – trade taking place without customs checks or paperwork at national frontiers, the right of British citizens to go and live in Spain or France – those would all be up in the air. It is massive. It is massive what is at risk”.
Those in favour of the Brexit have responded angrily to both the report and the minister’s comments, which they dismiss as speculation and scaremongering.
The debate will continue on a daily basis and it is up to each person allowed to vote to decide what they want to achieve from the referendum, and which side has the most compelling and believable argument by June 23.