What do David Cameron and the likes of Ed Balls and Harriet Harman have in common? The answer: they've all described Brexit as a 'leap in the dark'. And they're not alone in saying those campaigning for Britain to leave the EU have no plan for what happens next. We've heard the 'leap in the dark' phrase repeatedly over the last few months. But today Vote Leave have spelled out their action plan for a scenario that looks increasingly likely, at least if the polls are to be believed: what happens after a vote for Brexit on June 23rd?
The 'Leave' campaign say that it would 'make no sense to trigger Article 50 (the formal notification of Britain leaving the EU) immediately'. Instead, they want Britain to enter into 'informal negotiations with both other EU members and the Commission that issues such as whether and how to use Article 50 will be clear'. Whilst there wouldn't be a rush to trigger Article 50, though, Vote Leave are clear they do want some action straight away. Chris Grayling says this about what happens after a vote for Brexit:
'After we Vote Leave the public need to see that there is immediate action to take back control from the EU. We will need a carefully managed negotiation process and some major legislative changes before 2020. A vote to Leave on 23 June is a vote for action, and the Government will need to respond quickly.'
So what would that action look like? One of the first steps 'Leave' want the Government to take would be to bring in an EU 'Emergency provisions' law, which would, in their words, 'end the rogue European Court of Justice's control over national security'.
But whilst making it clear that they want immediate action after a vote to leave the European Union, the main thing to emerge from this Vote Leave action plan is the apparent caution which they are urging. 'There is no rush to end the process,' the document says. It seems, instead, that the deadline wouldn't be a month or even two years after a Brexit vote on June 23rd 2016. Instead, May 2020 is the date by which the campaign say a settlement with the EU will have been negotiated. And that's also the date by which they say the European Communities Act 1972, which brought us into the EU, will be repealed.
This Vote Leave action plan is a well put together document. But as well as telling us what legislation the campaign want introduced after a vote for Brexit, its main purpose seems to be in showing that leaving the EU is no leap in the dark. The campaign is trying to show to people that chaos wouldn't break out immediately and that instead, if the referendum goes their way, we'd see a managed process by which Britain walked away from the EU. 'Remain's' job now will be to pick this document apart. But with momentum behind the 'Leave' campaign continuing to grow, this action plan does at least do a decent job in answering the repeated chorus that Brexit would be a 'leap in the dark'.