Brexit--- what if

Will Britain exit the EU --- what do you think?

EU exit would make 2m Britons abroad illegal immigrants overnight – Grieve

Former attorney general tears into Eurosceptics ahead of Tory manifesto launch, saying UK departure from EU would create more problems than it solves

Dominic Grieve said Britain’s mood of ‘rejectionism’ was at odds with its tradition of building relationships. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

Owen Bowcott


Wednesday 18 March 2015 18.30 GMTLast modified on Thursday 19 March 2015 08.31 GMT

Two million UK citizens working abroad could become illegal immigrants overnight if Britain were to leave the European Union, former attorney general Dominic Grieve has warned.

In a hard-hitting attack on Eurosceptics inside and outside the Conservative party, Grieve condemned those who want to tear up the UK’s international treaty obligations and withdraw from both the EU and the European Court of Human Rights.

His comments come ahead of next month’s launch of the Tory election manifesto, which is expected to commit the party to leaving the jurisdiction of the Strasbourg court – although a long-promised draft bill has yet to be published.

There seems to be growing irritation towards how international obligations operate

Dominic Grieve

Those close to the policy of quitting the ECHR insist it will be put to the electorate; other Conservative sources suggest Downing Street may be cooling on the proposal at a time when European unity is threatened – not least by Russian activity in Ukraine and on the fringes of Eastern Europe.

Conservative party policy is, unequivocally, to promise an in-out referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. Delivering a lecture in central London entitled ‘Britain’s International Obligations – Fetters or Keys?’, Grieve warned departing from the EU would cause more problems than it solves.

“The requirements of any free trade agreement would make British removal from the clauses dealing with freedom of movement impossible,” he explained, “with the curious consequence that the single biggest cause of domestic irritation with the EU, immigration, would remain unaltered. But without its maintenance some 2 million UK citizens working in EU countries would find themselves becoming illegal immigrants overnight.”

Grieve, who was sacked in the last cabinet reshuffle after vocally opposing Conservative demands to withdraw from the ECHR, has now widened his attack to warn about the dangers of retreat to a policy of “isolationism”. Participation in Nato was in danger of being undermined by Ukip’s campaigns, he added.

While acknowledging the shortcomings of Brussels bureaucracy, Grieve, a QC and the Conservative MP for Beaconsfield, said: “We may now be in an age where the merit of international obligations and membership of treaty organisations more generally is questioned. The UN charter and organisation itself has long been criticised.

“But there seems to be growing irritation towards how international obligations operate. They are seen as fetters on our freedom of action and finances, but doing little to moderate the behaviour of irresponsible states or to assist our wellbeing as a nation.”

The dispute over UK membership ”marks a potentially revolutionary turning point in a previously consistent national approach of building, observing and working within international obligations”, he said.

“There is ... a total lack of clarity as to how a government would proceed to unravel a relationship that has developed in complexity over more than 40 years. Which parts of the several thousand pieces of EU legislation that are currently incorporated into our own statute law would be retained?”

Conservative policy on the European convention on human rights “pays no regard whatsoever to its impact on the other signatory states”, Grieve said. “The success of the convention, despite all its shortcomings, in raising standards of behaviour and promoting human rights globally, and with it the overall security of the Europe, is to be disregarded for the sake of addressing irritations about some of its current domestic impacts which at best will be of utterly marginal benefit.

“... In seeking to abandon the EU and the ECHR what message is conveyed as to the value that the UK attaches to international engagement...? To exercise influence globally, it is necessary that we remain a country whose attitudes and commitment others can trust.”

The new mood of “rejectionism” and “isolationism” was, the former attorney general said, at odds with Britain’s tradition of building up and respecting obligations and relationships. “We are an outward-facing nation with a global language, a global cultural, educational and legal reach,” he said, “with deep ties all over the world and with one in 10 of our citizens living permanently overseas... We should build on what is on offer and not hanker after some simpler world that does not and has never existed.”

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That Monty Python sketch of the "smelly Eenglish kniggets" having cows thrown at them from a castle rampart springs to mind...

Hahaha Jane! They do look like them though don't you think? If we stick to Beatrix Potter, Farage could have been Jeremy Fisher - but his persona is much more like Toad I think...

I wonder what Beatrix Potter and Kenneth Grahame would say to your comparisons?
Turning childrens’ books into horror comics!

Did my X this morning. Not that I think much will change in this canton. They don't really do political parties, but one can never be cautious enough.

Well I'm off to vote in the hope that I can contribute to keeping the FN below 30% in my canton because they are a bunch of pernicious swivel-eyed loons and I don't want them having any effect on my life; and then I'm going to find some fluffy kittens to hug and stick videos of them on face-book to make up for having possibly offended Marine's buddies.

I might even be able to fit in a bit of racism & bigotry & spitting as well, got to live up to the French stereotype after all.

What would E J Thribb say ?

An interesting bunch in our departmental elections (formerly cantonales) this time around with four groups contesting. The 'ruling' party which is basically communist, the socialists, the conservative equivalent and a new group of 'centreists'. A motley crew if there ever was ! The 'communists' (the french form of) have been great for the area, giving it a real boost in my opinion however far away their ideas may be from mine. They will probably do well again with the PS in the mix to fight the second round. The intriguing group is the centre party whose main election promise is to install CCTV outside the schools in the area ! One of the people standing for election is a neighbour as it happens and he's been trying to convert me for weeks. So, what do I do ? Remain loyal to my principals which are probably predominantly blue ish or vote for the people who have done a great job in the area ? or, do I remain loyal to my neighbour ? Maybe I could ditch the lot and vote PS ? Too much choice.....


..and now to lunch. I wonder whether we have any smoked fish available...

Surely political parties and their supporters are fair game? There is a huge difference between debate, which may include mockery, about political issues and other beliefs on the one hand, and denigrating people for things which are an intrinsic part of them eg their nationality or colour or physical/mental health.

If anyone chooses to espouse a political cause or system of beliefs which someone else doesn't agree with, then they can expect to be challenged because that is all they are, beliefs, which differ and are by definition something we choose to adhere to or not. And it cuts both ways, but you don't just sweep things under the carpet.

What sort of world are we living in when we can't laugh at politicians, just look at Gillray or Swift or Orwell, very mean and very funny and as with all satire thought-provoking. The idea that you can't say derogatory things about politicians qua politicians is terrifying - they are public figures and they are fair game, for obvious reasons. Their ideas are under attack, not their person.

Cameron is a dead ringer for Pigling Bland, Miliband looks like Mr Bean, Farage looks like Mr Toad: are these offensive comparisons? Are they the worst things one could say? Are they true? I don't see that swivel-eyed loon or fruit-loop are offensive at all - goodness knows they have been applied to a motley crew of public figures and politicians on different sides.

Maybe being a life-long reader of Private Eye has blunted my sensibilities. I wouldn't normally expect to have to put kid-gloves on to discuss politicians and politics with fellow adults because I expect a degree of intellectual robustness from them.

To me UKIP is simply the quasi acceptable face of people like the English Defence League and is worthy of all the vehemence I can muster. I'm not so worried by golf club bores like Farage . He is simply a clown albeit a skilful clown. I'm more concerned about his backers. They seem to be part of a long running thread in British politics which is more than derogatory to the other than ever anti kippers are to Farage.

Oups !!!

or should that be each to their own...?! ;-)

"But each to his own"....

Tut tut Andrew, "each to his or her own" surely ?

Don't want to be upsetting the PC brigade now do we ?

I shall correct you once again. I have great regard for the UK, but NOT for the political situation at present and how it has been for several decades. I too have family in parts of England and many in E and NE Scotland and also many old friends. I do not go to the UK too often, mainly because I have little need, but then my life is based here within my family.

I think the troll concerned nearly got what he wanted but thankfully was spotted in time!

Evans above, you're right !

Lisa - did you read what he wrote? he wasn't slightly offensive or rude, he was very insulting of the french - ie some members here and my kids, OH and family. If he'd said that across the dinner table I think he'd have been thrown out the window or punched. Kippers and fruit loops are incredibly mild and rather jovial in comparison to the language he used. But each to his own ;-)

I thought we might have been Thackwayed or Rehilled. Are you saying we have been Victimised?

To me, "kipper" means "spineless and two-faced"!

Vernon/Mike or anyone else can say what they like as long as they respect the SFN rules. I don't make the rules so don't have a go at me ! If the rules are not to your liking then take that up with the gaffers. I have given my opinion about Vic many times here ad nauseam so I will say it once again though I doubt anything will change. In my opinion Vic was harshly treated and i'm far from the only person to feel this. I have no idea why he was kicked out because no explanation has been given. I think Vic would like to know why he was kicked out too (his words not mine) . I don't have any 'mates' on here except for Nick who I know personally so I would consider as a friend. Everyone else, including Vic are just names and usually photos, no more than that. I'm sure we all have members we 'hit it off' with better than others for whatever reason. I try to say what I feel within the bounds of decency and keeping within the 'dinner party' framework though my non dinner party upbringing often gives me away.