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Wednesday, June 01, 2016 

The Hair/Pob alliance breaks loose.

After however weeks, weeks that have seemed like years, the Leave campaign has finally got its act together.  Who knows, perhaps this was always the plan: wait until the purdah period begins, happily at about the same time as the latest immigration stats are released, and then go into overdrive.

It's also helped massively that they've decided on a tactic which seems to have thrown Remain and the (actual) Tory leadership completely: make the referendum essentially into a referendum on which wing of the Tory party you want in power.  Priti Patel, in a likely Freudian slip, made this apparent when she spoke today: don't just take back control from Brussels, take back control of the government also.  Patel it's fairly obvious is first in line for the chop come the revenge reshuffle if Remain does win; if not, who knows how high an MP who once described us plebs as "among the worst idlers in the world" will rise in a Johnson-Gove administration.

As it couldn't be more obvious this is what the choice now boils down to.  Vote Remain, and you're voting for at most a couple more years of Dave, with a truculent and aggrieved party making life as difficult as possible for the man who finally won them a majority, however slim, 23 years after the last one.  Vote Leave, and you're on the side of team Bozza/Pob, and such policies as maybe reducing VAT on fuel, maybe spending a bit more on the NHS, and maybe reducing immigration a little more.  Boris is quite possibly the biggest charlatan in British politics, but he's a conniving, scheming, on occasion pin sharp charlatan.  Every time he denies this is a programme for an alternate Tory government, and every time he says Dave will continue as prime minister regardless of the result, he means exactly the opposite.  He doesn't need to so much as nod or wink.  It's that apparent.

If, and it's a massive if, the Hair/Ventriloquist Dummy pairing mean what they say on immigration, then it tells us a few things.  First, that the Gove-Dominic Cummings axis has won the argument when it comes to leaving the single market.  For years the Tories, Eurosceptics included, made the single market out to be the one unquestionably positive attribute of the EU.  Being part of the single market however means being a member of the European Economic Area, which in turn means free movement.  Gove and Cummings have somehow convinced first themselves and then their Leave mates that exiting the single market entirely is worth it if it means being able to claim you can then control immigration from the EU.  That leaving the single market is easily one of, if not the most economically destructive of all the various options Leave has posited so far is apparently by the by.  We can take it, very well alone and all that.

Except this still doesn't quite add up to the IMMIGRATION REVOLUTION! the Mail adoringly splashed on this morning.  Putting in place the same points based system as applied to non-EU migrants simply isn't going to work, unless of course the Leavers are fine with the farming industry to name just one business sector collapsing entirely.  Even if they didn't make any adjustments, and even if immigration from the EU ceased entirely as a result, net migration still wouldn't come down to the tens of thousands, as Johnson and the others have implied would then be possible.  This is without the Leave campaign keeping their other implied promises about making it easier for migrants from Commonwealth countries to come here.  Indeed, about the only way net migration could possibly fall to the tens of thousands would be if emigration increased massively.  Which, to think conspiratorially for a second, could be the actual goal.

Second, it fully gives the lie to the already ridiculously hypocritical comments from the likes of Patel about certain individuals being blasé about high levels of immigration because it either doesn't affect or actively benefits them.  Put to one side the evidence is very mixed on whether immigration has had that much of an impact on wages, and instead gaze on the multitude of reports, all of which conclude there will be an economic impact from exiting the EU.  The more honest Leave figures admit it is likely there will be at least an initial effect, made up for in later years or not.  As Rick argues, for many of the people the Leavers claim to be standing up for, they simply can't afford such an effect.

Leave knows it can't win on the economic arguments; it's why they've made their move this week.  Likewise, Remain cannot win purely on the economics, which is why you would have expected a better rebuttal to the Leave gambit of the last couple of days than the panicked one we've had.  Partially this is down to how Cameron has trapped himself on immigration, but it's also a result of Remain becoming complacent, so lacking up to now has Leave been.  At the same time, Leave has laid itself bare: the decision to go wholesale with not just leaving the EU, but the single market too gives Remain an opportunity.  Leave wants out of Europe as a whole.  The British people might reject Brussels, but they certainly don't the continent.  Most also will likely prefer Cameron/Osborne to Boris/Gove.

Then again, most would likely prefer the cold steel right up them to both.

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