Today’s letters address the question of our trade deals with the EU and the Leadership campaign. The first letter is by our contributor Christopher Gill:

Sir,

When dealing with the EU nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. That is the nature of the beast – by dint of its constitution it cannot do otherwise. The notion that within two years from next March the UK will be able to negotiate a new trade deal is patently absurd, as demonstrated by the fact that even after seven years of negotiations the Canada/EU deal could, at the very last minute, have  been so easily derailed by tiny Wallonia. The only realistic prospect of reaching an agreement with the other 27 member states is if we keep it simple.

Currently we have a trade deal with the EU which, one must assume, is satisfactory since all concerned have previously signed up to it.

The obvious solution is for the UK to offer to continue trading on the current terms but from outside the EU political union.

If the EU then decides to ‘bite off its nose to spite its face’ by rejecting that proposition then we are left in the position of trading with them under World Trade Organisation rules which will leave them, because of the existing massive trade imbalance, paying more in tariffs on their exports to the UK than the UK will be paying in tariffs on our exports to them.

Regrettably our Government appears set upon opening a veritable Pandora’s box by renegotiation and in the meantime we will all have to endure continuing uncertainty and also to carry on borrowing more money to pay our subs to a club which we have unequivocally voted to leave.

Respectfully, Christopher Gill

The following letter is by our reader Marietta King:

Sir,

So it took Canada and the EU seven years to sign the first part of a Trade agreement with each other. I hear no mention of them agreeing to open borders with each other. Funny how the media do not mention that fact!

I wonder how long it will take the EU to agree to have a Trade Agreement with the UK on the terms set out by the UK. Note, we set the terms, not the EU. Let them come back to negotiate with us! We will be busy agreeing simple trade agreements with the rest of the world, won’t we?  The sooner the better. Why wait?

Respectfully, Marietta King

Our contributor Toby Micklethwait writes about the Leadership Campaign:

Sir,

It is good to have someone promoting John Rees Evans (“JRE”) on UKIP Daily, as Howard Keating has done in his comment on this article, writing: “John seems an interesting guy, and has obviously had more involvement with UKIP than I was aware of.”. He posted this link to JRE’s film, which is good fun. He can also be seen in this debate.

JRE’s idea is to seek a way of letting the members control policy, though he does have some view of his own:

“UKIP is becoming too respectable, too acceptable to the political class”.

He wants

“a more effective system to let [UKIP Central] know what we want them to do for us….. a workable plan to transform [UKIP]…..”

He has not yet stated how that would work. He invites us to visit his website in due course. In contrast, let me summarise the policy development methods that UKIP has attempted so far:

Letters: We tried getting all the members to write letters (about policy) and an attempt was made to consolidate those letters into policy. The volume of letters swamped Trevor Colman and, later, David Campbell Bannerman.

Regions: Another idea for distilling the opinions of 35,000 members into one manifesto is to bubble ideas up via the branches, counties and regions. It does not work well.

Experts: Another method is to use our experts. For example on CO2 and climate change Foster, Helmer, and  Monckton know far more about the topic than the rest of the party put together. One person (in 2015,  Suzanne Evans) receives papers from experts and stitches them into a readable, costed, manifesto. As part of the process, Suzanne wrote a book “Why vote UKIP?” JRE’s basic premise seems to be that our Manifesto production system does not work. That seems wrong. It did work, in 2015.

NEC: JRE is critical of how the NEC discuss policy at the end of a long meeting. Remember this: the NEC do not claim to be policy experts! When I was on the NEC we used to have policy papers submitted to us. They looked to be of mixed quality, but what can the NEC do about that, except vote them down, leaving a total blank? UKIP’s problem is that we do not necessarily have top experts in the party on every single topic, but this has been steadily improving.

Forums: JRE wants members far from London to be able to contribute to policy. We used to have a mechanism for all members to discuss policy. It was called the “UKIP FORUM”. UKIP Central closed it down. One of the forum moderators promptly started another website, this time outside the control of UKIP Central … “UKIP Daily”.

UKIP Daily is a place where we, all the members, are free to develop policy, if we have the ability. Ideally we would need a tab called “Policy”, with threads for Education, Energy, Tax, Foreign etc. JRE should join us on this forum. He could test his idea of decentralisation of policy and would become better known in the party

In summary, the best way UKIP has found to develop policy is the way we are doing it now. Nigel has been brilliant at inventing overall policy, often on the hoof, and in selecting the main campaign themes. Suzanne (with help from all experts) stitched together the 2015 Manifesto which was universally acclaimed.

As JRE says:

“Dare to continue to be different. Who dares wins”.

Now that the referendum has been won, the leadership candidates are trying to identify fresh, challenging policies. Policies worth working for. Worth paying for. Worth dying for.

Respectfully, Toby Micklethwait

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