This article is going to end with a request that you sign a petition. The petition asks the government to publish Civil Service plans that outline how to deal with an exit from the European Union. If you'd like to sign the petition, please click here.
Anyone who's visited Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker near Nantwich will know that in amongst the very moving displays of the horrors of nuclear war, there is something darkly hysterical. Hack Green used to be one of 13 bunkers that were built up and down the country to protect the people who would govern Britain in the event of a nuclear war. There is an operations room at the heart of the bunker where each government department had a desk. If you visit the bunker today, you will see that one of the desks was for the Inland Revenue. Even after a nuclear war, the government planned to continue to collect taxes from whatever Walking Dead zombies were around post-Armageddon. As darkly funny as the idea is, it proves one thing; the business of government never stops.
The Civil Service has contingency plans for almost every eventuality. As I've previously noted, there are currently plans circulating Whitehall that provide for Britain's orderly exit from the EU. Some people who follow me on Twitter have dismissed the idea as a conspiracy theory, and I find myself in the odd position of being regarded by some as a conspiracy nut, which is great research for my novels and screen work, but never a position I thought I'd find myself in as a reasonably well-educated, fairly average person. These plans exist, and it is extremely important that we put pressure on the government to publish them in advance of the referendum vote.
We seem to have forgotten that Britain is supposed to have an impartial Civil Service. One of the reasons for this is to protect us from the worst excesses of government and to act as a check on politicians who tend to get carried away with hyperbole and grand ideas. Whichever side of the campaign you support, there's one thing I think we can all agree on - the overall tone has been disgraceful. The government could have avoided this by commissioning two Civil Service teams to work up reports for release prior to the start of campaigning. One team would have been tasked to research the remain case, with all the facts and figures involved in that scenario, and the other would have worked up the leave case. This would have provided both campaigns with solid facts and figures, and more importantly a vision of what Britain might look like in either case.
That didn't happen. Instead, we've had a shouting match with each side wheeling out so-called experts, plucking figures, crying vested interest, and attacking character rather than educating and informing voters. One of the least edifying things I've ever seen was George Osborne out-and-out lying to Andrew Neil about the Treasury Select Committee's warning that no one from either side of the campaign should ever repeat the misrepresentative figures about the cost of leaving. I have to agree with Simon Heffer that this has been a campaign marred by disgraceful dishonesty. No wonder Conservatives have been ripping up their membership cards.
This is not a General Election. We are not choosing a government. Vote Leave will have no say on policy. David Cameron, the current leader of the government, but also figurehead of the remain campaign, will be responsible for implementing the people's mandate. As I've previously noted, this gives him a terrible conflict of interest.
The last few polls have suggested a leave victory. Civil Service plans that outline how to cope with a leave vote exist and we need to see them. If, as I suspect, they show that Britain can exit from the European Union without any damage to its economy, then the plans will prove that David Cameron and George Osborne have been intentionally misleading us, and, like a pair of hucksters, have been trying to scare the British people into voting the way they want them to. If the plans show that there would be cost and chaos, as the remain campaign claims, I want to know that too, as I would not want to vote for something that would harm the interests of the British people.
With the majority of MPs and most of the government on the remain side, the government will resist publication of these plans with all its might. They will use purdah as an excuse, but given the ease with which a change in the voter registration deadline was effected, if we put enough pressure on them, these plans can be published. We, the people, deserve to know.
I tried to start a petition on the government's petitions website, but it was rejected supposedly because of the purdah rules. Having been through the rejected petition list, I can see that a number of other people have tried to start similar petitions since my article went live yesterday and they have all been rejected. Luckily for all of us, someone else had the good sense to start a petition which demands almost exactly the same thing before purdah - thank you, John Jorgensen. We must demand that we see these Civil Service plans. Without them, we are not being given a free and fair choice. If enough people agree with me that we have a right to see these plans before we vote, hopefully we can get the issue high enough up the agenda and put enough pressure on the government to force it to publish.
The government has three choices:
- It can deny that there are any such Civil Service plans currently circulating Whitehall and hope that nobody remembers if we later discover that there were.
- It can refuse to publish the plans and thereby rob voters of valuable information they need to help inform their decision.
- Or it can publish the plans and tell the truth.
After having to endure such a disgraceful campaign, I believe we have earned the right to demand better from our politicians and would like to see them tell the truth.
If you agree, please sign the petition here. And then send the link to everyone you know.