After being under starters orders for what seems like an eternity the EU referendum is underway.
Of course the misinformation has already started. Since this will be ultimately a propaganda war, that is hardly surprising. The Prime Minister has already put his PR spin on what can only be described as a form of words that is the equivalent of a blank sheet of paper.
It takes a special sort of talent to make Neville Chamberlain look like a smart negotiator.
The remain camp is already deploying Project Fear - utilising the same techniques that ultimately proved successful in the Scottish Referendum.
The one I'll deal with today is 'leaving the EU'. Project Fear describes a tortuous process involving endless notices and meetings with bureaucrats while endless reams of paper are churned out describing the precise length of a legal haddock and other such trivia. It would be like the Bleak House court case they cry, perpetually stuck in the Chancery.
All of which is complete rubbish.
The UK should leave the EU by not leaving the EU. What we do is repeal the 1972 European Communities Act. And that's about it.
That ends the capacity of anybody outside the UK from enforcing treaty rules within the UK. We then just assume grandfathering and carry on pretty much as before.
The UK will then move away from the EU in the same way that an iceberg moves away from an ice sheet. Slowly as the laws are amended.
It would then be up to the remainder of the EU to take any action to change arrangements. Since they are the economy in near depression and with fragmentation on the cards they would be advised to be cautious. Of course if they want to throw a temper tantrum then that would be in keeping with the behaviour of the European Commission and the European Council (particularly the appalling behaviour towards Greece), but it wouldn't do anything to help their citizens. Because of course the UK would just retaliate in kind.
The UK is the fifth biggest economy in the world. It is up there with the USA, China, Japan, Brazil and Russia. It is a very big market. It is crucial to Ireland for example. Freed from the treaty the UK's government can mitigate any action from the EU towards us, but the EU's governments would still be hog-tied.
Getting rid of the 1972 act leaves the UK in the position of being in the EU, but not subject to its rules. I can't see anything within the treaties or the international law position that deals with that situation. But then I'm not an international lawyer.
I see no reason to use any provisions of the EU treaty when there is a much simpler mechanism within domestic law.
Personally I don't think the EU would do anything - primarily because they struggle to agree progress on anything important. If they did it will just force separation and substitution even faster - much as it is doing in Russia. So realistically things would evolve over time in the way they do between any countries.