The Treasury Committee meetings are where the real Brexit debates are taking place. Everyone interested should keep a close eye on them. It is lamentable that MPs were there to watch that petulant child Dominic Cummings and the clueless Arron Banks but don’t turn up when the actual experts speak.
I was proud to play my part in the referendum campaign and was pleased to see my blog thrive over the last sixth months. However, I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer sustain the level of activity on this blog along with my other roles and responsibilities both personally and professionally. Trying to maintain an output of daily blogs requires a level of obsessive commitment that means I can do little else on an evening and generally had to go without adequate sleep. It was worth it to contribute to the referendum debate, plus I had a very large readership, donations rolling in and funding from the Leave Alliance. It’s not all about money, of course, but some financial reward combined with a growing readership did make my efforts worthwhile.
I cannot however keep up with that level of work, I no longer receive any funding and after the campaign my readership has dropped significantly. I now believe that I will be better off pursuing my aims in a different way. It is a thankless and mammoth task trying to turn an obscure blog into a well read popular blog; I had a sample of what that would be like during the referendum but it was temporary and has not survived the aftermath. The effort and time it would take to build it back up is, to my mind, not likely to be fruitful and therefore not worth it. I
This means that although this blog will be maintained as a writing space and an archive of all my work, including links to my contributions to other sites and publications, it will no longer be an active blog in terms of there being a daily output. Regarding my writing I will be concentrating on quality over quantiy and though I will continue to input into the Brexit debate which is of huge continued interest I will be diversifying my subject matter area of interest, expanding my intellectual life and writing about different matters.
I will now be concentrating on my role as a Director with Conservatives for Liberty – growing the organisation, managing their online communications and building the readership of their blog – and trying to get more work published in the mainstream media where a far larger audience can be reached.
Thanks for reading.
The EEA option – The Norway option – The market solution
The EEA option a.k.a The “Norway option” involves joining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and trading with the EU via the European Economic Area (EEA) as a means of achieving an economically secure, de-risked Brexit.
It greatly simplifies our time limited negotiations, protects our economy, answers the Northern Irish and Gibraltar question and greatly eases the concerns of Scotland. A bespoke trade agreement that adequately replicates our current trading relationship cannot be achieved in two years and that is why being part of the EEA as stage one in the long and complex process of leaving the EU is by far the most viable, sensible and achievable option.
The EEA option does not mean we would be trying to be Norway; we are two very different countries. It merely refers to adopting a similar framework in how we relate to the EU legally and economically. It should not be thought of as an alternative to EU membership, but as a means of facilitating our secession.
On immigration the respective situations of Norway and the UK are very different. Norway is party to the Schengen Agreement; it is a voluntary signatory and Schengen is separate from the EEA agreement. Being in the EEA does not require membership of Schengen. Norway also has land borders with the EU so the situation is not really comparable to the UK. We do have border controls and far more scope to manage immigration though good domestic policy, which has been sorely lacking.
On Freedom of Movement
Despite the apparent uncompromising position of Commission officials and some European leaders; the EU has been quite willing to negotiate with EFTA/EEA states on freedom of movement. With Liechtenstein a precedent has been set whereby via Article 112 of the EEA Agreement it has eventually moved towards a quota system. This proves that it is possible to manage immigration within the EEA. Article 112 may be the solution to our pursuit for a concession on free movement.
What Norway pays and its European strategy
Those who proliferate the “still pay, no say” myth about the EEA option rarely go into any detail about what Norway pays to maintain its relationship with Europe. Most of what Norway pays into the system is not paid into the EU budget and EEA countries pay significantly less than the UK for their relations with the rest of EU.
Norway pays approximately £7,024,600 into the EFTA budget. It also makes a contribution to the economical rehabilitation of post-Communist countries via the “Norway Grants” which amounted to around €804 million in the period 2009 -2014. This money is not paid to the EU.
Norway also provides 95 percent of the funding to the EEA Grants. The two together amounted to €1.8bn over the period, of which €1.71bn was paid by Norway. As with the Norway grants, the EEA grants are not part of the EU budget. They are administered by the independent Financial Mechanism Committee. They are not specifically payments for access to the Single Market. They are effectively part of Norway’s strategy for co-operation with the EU.
That, however, is not the full extent of relations. As of 2014, Norway participated in twelve EU programmes, including Horizon 2020, Erasmus +, the Consumer Programme and the Copernicus programme. It also has a bilateral arrangement for participation in interregional programmes under the EU’s Regional Policy. Additionally, it takes part in the activities of 27 EU agencies.
As for the budget for these activities, over the 2007-2013 multi-annual period, total EU spending was around €70 billion, of which the estimated EFTA contribution was in the order of €1.7 billion – averaging approximately €250 million a year. Norway carried 95.77 percent of that cost (€1.63bn). This cash, therefore, is for services rendered and, even then, the funding was not one-way. Around €1.01bn was returned from EU funds, making the seven-year net contribution in the order of €620m – or about €90 million a year.
Despite the campaign rhetoric of the Remain campaign, leaving the EU does not mean an end to mutually beneficial cooperation. We can and will be a constructive part of Europe, participating in joint programmes and EU agencies. Yes, this will cost money but the benefits far outweigh the upfront financial costs.
On EU “rules” and the “no say” myth
In October 2015 we contacted the EFTA Secretariat, which administers the EEA agreement, and found that approximately 21% of EU legislative acts in force (after allowing for repealed acts) applied to the EEA agreement. Since then, the number of EU laws has decreased (due to consolidation rather than removal of red tape) and the figures are approximately 5,000 out of 20,000 acts in force, i.e. about 1 in 4 EU laws are Single Market rules applicable to EFTA EEA states.
The tired canard that Norway has “no say on the rules” is of the Single Market is particularly stubborn, not least because its proliferated by Norwegian Europhiles still keen on accession and with an interest in preventing Brexit.
This myth is disproven by the EEA agreement itself:
According to the principle of unanimity applied in the EEA Joint Committee, all the EFTA states must agree in order for new EU legislation to be integrated into the EEA Agreement and for it to apply to cooperation between the EFTA states and the EU. If one EFTA state opposes integration, this also affects the other EFTA states in that the rules will not apply to them either, neither in the individual states nor between the EFTA states themselves nor in their relations with the EU. This possibility that each EFTA state has to object to new rules that lie within the scope of the EEA Agreement becoming applicable to the EFTA pillar is often referred to as these parties’ right of veto.
So far, this right has not been exercised. This is partly because when EU legislation is to be integrated into the EEA Agreement it is submitted to the EEA Joint Committee at the final stage of an extensive process of information and consultation between the contracting parties. The purpose of this process is to ensure that agreement is reached on such decisions. During the negotiations on the EEA Agreement, compromises were found if a state had constitutional objections to the content or could invoke fundamental national interests. Even though constitutional problems are unlikely to arise in the day-to-day EEA work, the will to reach necessary compromises must still be regarded as a basic condition for cooperation.
Within the structure of EFTA (which hosts the EEA agreement) there is a range of consultative bodies, including the EEA Council, three joint committees and then over 30 working groups. There is also the EFTA surveillance authority and the court. Thus, to assert that Norway has no say is completely untrue, unambiguously so.
Norway has the ability to protect its sovereignty and has used it when necessary, including refusing to implement proposed regulations that would cover offshore drilling. Oil and Gas UK objected too but the British government had no such defence.
An example often given to exemplify the lack of Norwegian influence is that of a manufacturer of hot water tanks that found that its entire range fell foul of new size regulations designed to conserve energy since Norway’s officials were “not party to discussions on the issue.” This is now a cliché in the tradition of anti-Norway option articles.
It refers to the Norwegian domestic heating manufacturer called OSO Hotwater and is based on the complaints of its boss Sigurd Braathen who has claimed that he discovered “overnight” that the EU was introducing new environmental and energy efficiency standards that favoured gas powered boilers over electric ones and would render half of Oso’s products useless and unsellable. His sob story, however, crumbles under scrutiny.
Legislation like this does not pop up overnight or come about unexpectedly. The instruments in question appeared in June 2010 as the draft Commission regulation with regard to ecodesign requirements and delegated regulations for energy labelling of local space heaters, and also Commission Delegated Regulations of 18 February 2013 supplementing Directive 2010/30/EU with regard to the energy labelling of water heaters, hot water storage tanks and packages of water heater and solar devices.
As delegated legislation, this had been well signalled, stemming from a 2010 directive, the nature of which had been the subject of much discussion. The particular feature of the legislation that was causing such concern was the inclusion of electric heaters.
However, contrary to the myth Norway was not helpless and without allies in the face of EU regulation; this is an example of Norway building alliances in order to exert influence and help push back and force the Commission to rethink. The whole heating industry was outraged by this; not only did Norway object, but the issue was taken up by the Nordic Council of Ministers, which included Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
It is simply untrue to assert that Norway did not have a say. It represented itself and worked through the Nordic Council and via the standards bodies, it had access to CEN and CENELEC, and through them to the Commission. It was an influential element of the technical system that was telling Brussels their regulations were a bad idea in need of redesign.
It took until August 2013, more than three years after the draft regulations had been published, for the highly revised regulations to come into force, during which period the Norwgians were fully consulted.
It is therefore impossible to feel sympathy for Sigurd Braathen because he should have been fully aware of the process and he has suffered only because of his own negligence. The EU was transparent in publishing its intentions. The standards bodies are not EU institutions and all participating states are consulted through their own standards agencies, in which consumer groups, manufacturers and trade guilds are involved in the process. This at the very beginning of the process before it goes anywhere near the EU parliament for discussion – and incidentally, the best way of influencing the substance of regulations.
In any case, these energy efficiency standards are embodied in EU law and derive from international standards such as ISO 14040. In this there is a global hierarchy If there is a global standard, then trading blocs and WTO members must adopt it. They can embellish it locally, but not in such a way as to create a trade barrier. For international trade purposes, the international standard takes precedence over the local standard, and as long as the exporter complies with the international standard, the importer nation (or bloc) can’t refuse it. If OSO had produced to the global standard there wouldn’t have been a problem.
So Norway is able to influence the EU rules that affect it and register a reservation. Crucially, the substance of much EU regulation is derived from international standards and the quasi-legislation of the multitude of international organisations that make up the developing global regulatory system. At a global level Norway is active and engaged able to speak and act independently and wield a veto when necessary.
On the international stage
Norway punches above its weight in the world and is able to act independently at an international level. As a Member State Britain is bound by Treaty to represent the EU position in international organisations and at international conferences, in the EEA we will gain the ability to pursue our own agenda and build alliances and coalitions flexibly and freely.
Helle Hagenau, formerly the international officer of the Norwegian No2EU campaign, spoke enthusiastically to us about Norway having “kept its political independence both nationally and internationally”. This has been “especially valuable in dealing with the United Nations”, she told us:
“When the Norwegian government decides to promote a certain point of view at the UN General Assembly, we just do it”, she said. “There is no need to negotiate with numerous other countries and an EU Commission, resulting in a watered down version of that message“.
She recalled how, when she was a member of the official Norwegian delegation to the UN General Assembly in New York, she had both the Swedish and Danish delegations tell her that they had asked the Norwegians to present their case to the UN. They had been unable to do so themselves, constrained as they were by the “common position” within the EU.
Anne Tvinnereim, formerly state secretary for the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, told a similar story. With Sweden bound by the EU common position and forced to informally ask Norway to represent a different position within the UN.
The importance of the fishing industry was pivotal to the Norwegian refusal to join the EU, meanwhile Edward Heath was quite willing to destroy our own in his desperation to join the EEC.
Agriculture and fishing are excluded from Norway’s agreements with the EU and much is made of the high protective tariffs driving up prices and thousands of jobs being exported out of Norway. This is, again, an oversimplified view of something a mite more complex and again we have the caricature of Norway as a passive victim.
Norway has had something of a difficult relationship with the EU over its fish exports and is not exactly innocent in this as it has a record of predatory pricing and “dumping” its surpluses. Trade barriers were first erected back in 2004 after complaints that Norway had been flooding European markets with cut-price Salmon, to the detriment of Scottish salmon farmers. These anti-dumping measures were repealed in 2009 but currently tariffs are raised again.
Nonetheless, Norwegian exports are booming. It’s a good time to be a salmon farmer in Norway and profits are soaring thanks to worldwide exports which is down to trading agility. Norway has its own trade policy and is therefore free to trade with who it wants. It has a preferential tariff agreement with the USA, has a beneficial deal with China and huge exports to Japan.
As for the regulation of the industry; Norway is a serious player. When it comes to international rules on food, to ensure public safety and fair trading, the UN body Codex Alimentarius, is the “top table” as it makes most of the international standards regarding the production and marketing of food. Not only is Norway an independent member of Codex, it even hosts the all-important Fish and Fisheries Products Committee. Thus, it is the lead nation globally in an area of significant economic importance to itself.
When it comes to trade in fish and fishery product, Norway is able to guide, if not control, the agenda on standards and other matters. The EU then reacts, turning the Codex standards into Community law, which then applies to EEA countries, including Norway. But it is Norway, not the EU, which calls the shots.
Adopting the EEA option allows us to leave the EU in an economically secure way and minimise disruption. It is a transitional arrangement achievable within the two-year Article 50 deadline and therefore the only realistic option on the table. It is not perfect but it is not the final destination, just the first. Our relationship with the EU will evolve from there as we disentangle ourselves from forty years of integration.
The dynamic of the EFTA/EEA arrangement changes significantly with the addition of Britain as it will become a significant trading bloc in its own right. So although the EEA relationship at present is tilted in favour of the EU; with Britain joining the Association would be in a much stronger position to reform the sub-optimal parts of the Agreement. It also gives Britain the flexibility to work with EFTA countries in matters of trade but also act independently. It will create two Europe’s; one will be a supranational political and judicial union, the other a trade association.
Since the referendum David Cameron has acted with great dignity and statesmanship; the same cannot be said of the Chancellor. The prime minister immediately did the right thing and resigned having realised his position is untenable. George Osborne has clearly been figuring out how we can protect his own position or secure a job in the next government. The man has no shame.
In their campaign of fear and lies Osborne and Cameron were in it together, they demeaned the country they are supposed to lead and inspire; yet Osborne refuses to do the decent thing. Cameron has exuded a sense of calm since the vote and spoken about “getting the best deal we can” and even made recommendations, Osborne still seems to be fighting a lost campaign.
Along with his friend and mentor of the “dark arts” Peter Mandelson, Osborne masterminded “project fear”; the relentless campaign to intimidate the British people into submission. The man in charge of our economy has spent months deliberately talking it down and convincing the world it was at risk of collapse. Our Chancellor has committed an act of self-harm in his zealous quest to exploit our anxieties. Having lied, manipulated and dissembled he has brought shame to his office and proven beyond doubt he is no longer fit for the job.
During the campaign Osborne forgot his responsibilities as Chancellor and showed himself willing to damage the economy by deliberately fomenting uncertainty and prophesising catastrophe. This has aggravated the economic fallout in the aftermath. He wasted £9million of taxpayer’s money on pro-EU leaflets and converted the Treasury into a partisan propaganda machine. He pressed public officials to publish dodgy dossiers predicting economic doom if we left the EU. This can only have increased the cynicism that the public feel towards politicians and damaged the reputation of the Treasury.
For the entire first weekend after the referendum, with the markets panicking, George Osborne apparently went into hiding. We needed him to offer reassurance and some indication that the Treasury was prepared. When Osborne finally appeared he made it “very clear” that the country would be poorer following the people’s decision to leave the EU. In an interview with Nick Robinson on the Today programme, he repeated his pre-referendum threat of a tax increases and spending cuts. Instead of offering reassurance he is making the situation worse and rather than revealing contingency plans he has petulantly insisted that “it was not the responsibility of those who wanted to remain in the EU to explain what plan we would follow if we voted to quit the EU.” This is the second most powerful man in our government abdicating responsibility.
With that, it became abundantly clear that he could no longer perform his role as Chancellor and was incapable of restoring economic confidence. With this man in charge project fear will be a self-fulfilling prophesy.
We now know that Wolfgang Schäuble issued his warning that we couldn’t participate in the Single Market if we left the EU at the behest of George Osborne. I have no doubt that in time we will find out that the Chancellor spent the months before the referendum making many calls and pulling in favours in order to boost his fear mongering campaign. Just think about that! A British Chancellor appealing for authoritative institutions and economists to warn that the British economy was weak and risked collapse outside the EU. Has there ever been a Chancellor so aggressive in his desire to run his own country down?
Remainers now point to our current economic turmoil as proof that they were right all along, but it was always inevitable that a political decision of this magnitude, with such huge potential for change, was going to cause economic uncertainty and short term pain. Now we need people in government to restore confidence and map out the future. The Chancellor who has been actively sabotaging our economy is the wrong man for the job. There should be no place for him in government.
Osborne took a huge gamble with a scorched Earth policy, he lost; and we are now suffering the consequences. Now he must go. It is too late to do the honourable thing now, but he can at least finally do the right thing and signal his intent to leave office when the next Conservative leader is elected.
One of the most important issues in the post-referendum debate on Brexit is whether or not we should remain in the Single Market to facilitate negotiations and ease our transition. The clear, sensible and rational answer to this is “yes”. However, it is assumed that we would have to accept freedom of movement as it is. Any number of high-ranking Commission officials have warned us that this is “non-negotiable”.
However, it must be known that the Commission officials (and the European politicians who joined them), were not telling the truth about freedom of movement – or at least the whole truth in respect of the EEA.
The EU has been quite willing to negotiate with one of the three EFTA/EEA states on freedom of movement. Furthermore, they have come to an amicable solution, which has allowed it to secure an amendment to the treaty giving it a permanent opt-out to freedom of movement. The state concerned now operates a quota system little different in principle to the Australian points system.
That the state is the principality of Liechtenstein need not worry us. It may be a tiny micro-state with a population of 37,000 spread over an area of 61 square miles – less than half the area of the Isle of Wight – but it is a fully-fledged Contracting Party to the EEA Agreement. It has assumed exactly the same rights and responsibilities as any other EFTA state.
Furthermore, Iceland has used exactly the same provisions to suspend free movement of capital following the 2008 financial crisis, demonstrating that there is a real and effective option within the EEA Agreement which could be available to the UK, and solve a lot of problems.
Liechtenstein joined the EEA on 1 May 1995. On the 10th March 1995 the EEA Council – part of the formal consultation structure set up under the agreement – looked at the situation dominating Liechtenstein’s entry.
The Council recognised that Liechtenstein had “a very small inhabitable area of rural character with an unusually high percentage of non-national residents and employees”. And it decided that unrestricted free movement of workers would be detrimental to the country.
Like the UK, but at the opposite end of the scale, the country was not able to absorb unlimited numbers.
Moreover, the Council acknowledged “the vital interest of Liechtenstein to maintain its own national identity”. It thus concluded that the situation “might justify the taking of safeguard measures by Liechtenstein as provided for in Article 112 of the EEA Agreement“.
Article 112 is part of the “safeguard measures” – popularly known as the “emergency brake”. Where serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties of a sectorial (sic) or regional nature arise, which are liable to persist, it allows EFTA states (but not EU Member States) unilaterally to take appropriate measures to resolve them. EU Member States have to rely on the Commission to take action.
Back in 1995, with a massive immigration problem looming, the EEA Council asked all members to “endeavour to find a solution which allowed Liechtenstein to avoid having recourse to safeguard measures”. However, no long-term solution was found so a temporary expedient was arranged: transitional arrangements which allowed the country to impose “quantitative limitations” on immigration until 1 January 1998. These were incorporated into Protocol 15, appended to the Agreement.
The next move was towards the end of 1997, just before the end of the transitional period. There had been no long-term solution found so Liechtenstein unilaterally invoked the Article 112 safeguard measures. By this means, it kept the existing immigration restrictions in place when the transitional period ended.
There were further attempts to resolve the situation in 1998, which were unsuccessful. Then, on 17 December 1999 after a further review, the EEA Joint Committee (another of the formal EEA bodies that mysteriously have “no influence”) decided that the “specific geographical situation of Liechtenstein” still justified “the maintenance of certain conditions on the right of taking up residence in that country”.
This unstable situation, however, could not be allowed to last. In order to resolve it, the Joint Committee came up with a proposal for a longer-term solution. Liechtenstein was to be allowed to introduce a quota system controlling the number of workers allowed to enter the country. This was given formal status by an amendment to Annex VIII of the EEA Agreement, setting out what were called “sectoral adaptations”, cross-referred to Annex V on the free movement of workers.
As a formal amendment to the EEA Agreement, the decision provided for a new transitional period until 31 December 2006, and allowed for the new measures to apply subject to a review “every five years, for the first time before May 2009”.
After reviews in 2009 and in 2015, it was concluded that there was no need to make any change to the current rules. The provisions on the “sectoral adaptations” could remain unchanged. Under the current arrangement, Liechtenstein issues 56 residence permits for economically active and 16 permits to economically non-active persons each year. Half of the totally available permits are decided by lottery, held twice a year.
The numbers involved are, of course, very small, but Liechtenstein is a tiny country. What matters is that a precedent has been set. Within the framework of the EEA Agreement, an EFTA state has suspended freedom of movement and replaced it with a quota system for what amounts to an indefinite period.
This is where the situation currently stands. Thus, whatever the EU might declare in terms of freedom of movement being “non-negotiable” for EU Member States, it is undeniable that it is negotiable within the framework of the EEA Agreement, as it applies to EFTA states.
Therefore, if the UK chooses to follow the EFTA/EEA option as an interim solution to expedite the Article 50 settlement, once the agreement is adopted it can follow the procedural steps pioneered by Liechtenstein. And by this means, it can impose limits on immigration from EEA states.
In terms of applying a quota system, it should be noted that, in the Australian-style points system, only 23 percent of the migrants admitted come under the points system. The overall limit is set by way of an arbitrary quota, set annually – currently at 190,000. This is, by any measure, a quota system.
To that extent, the UK can have some of its cake and eat it. The “Liechtenstein solution” potentially gives our negotiators far more flexibility than at first imagined. We accept the EEA acquis as it stands, but negotiate “sectoral adaptations” that bring the Agreement into line with UK needs.
This should help us reach an amicable settlement with the EU, while keeping us in the Single Market.
I am a big fan of Michael Gove. I admire his conviction, the principled nature of his politics and the sheer passion that drives him. Despite this, I firmly believe that he is absolutely not the right person to lead the country out of the European Union. If we were in need of a general to fight the hated enemy, then Gove would be the man. He is radical and will pursue his aims zealously, but his strengths are now his weaknesses and those traits I most respect render him unsuitable for the job at this crucial time.
The EU is not our enemy. We must now open amicable discussions with our allies and lay the foundations of our future relationship in the spirit of good faith. For the good of all of Europe we need compromise and pragmatism. There have been promising signs that we are being offered an olive branch by key figures; we need someone who will grasp it with both hands, not someone who will take that branch and beat them with it.
I’m a totally committed Brexiteer but I do not believe it necessarily beneficial to have a Brexiteer who is openly hostile to the EU leading negotiations with it. Gove has spent months spouting anti-EU diatribes and has even hinted at a desire to see the EU break up, he has therefore already started off on the wrong foot with those who will sit on the opposite side of the table.
Throughout the referendum campaign he was articulate and spoke with a moderate tone; he came across well to the general viewer. However, those in the know could see how badly briefed he was. He spoke of a mythical “free trade zone stretching from Iceland to Turkey that all European nations have access to”; there is no such thing, if only there was. This is the Vote Leave fudge which helped them dishonestly muddle through the campaign but we are now in a very serious situation and the last thing we need is for the Vote Leave ethos to continue by proxy.
He has now said that he will end free movement and introduce an “Australian-style points system” as well as diverting membership fees to the NHS. Gove is the Vote Leave candidate with a Brexit manifesto inspired by his trusted adviser Dominic Cummings; the man who still thinks that unilaterally breaking our Treaty obligations by repealing the 1972 European Communities Act instead of invoking Article 50 is a viable idea. To be clear, it would be a political and economic disaster. Invoking Article 50 is the only legal means of leaving the EU and the only method that leads to a negotiated settlement. This is the kind of ignorance about the EU being whispered into Gove’s ear for months.
Cummings was responsible for much of the dishonesty of the Vote Leave campaign which is now blowing back in their face and damaging the whole Leave campaign by association. He has spoken out against the Single Market while seemingly knowing very little about it. He ranted against the 2001 Clinical Trials Directive, apparently oblivious that it is in the process of being replaced by the 2014 Clinical Trials Regulation. He has been obsessed with the Procurement Directive, with no understanding of its roots in the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement. He has bizarrely defined the Single Market as including the Schengen area and the euro. We do not want a prime minister who, on the basis of this ignorance, pulls us out of the Single Market and thereby rejects a sensible, staged secession.
Michael Gove has denied that Cummings will be straight into Downing Street should be prime minister, but then he also denied wanting to be prime minister. Either way, this is the man he has had closely advising him for years. In the aftermath of the referendum, the lies of his campaign and his deliberate rejection of post-vote planning is damaging the credibility of Leave and feeding the Remain backlash.
Seceding from the EU is grown up politics that needs informed expertise and moderate thinking. We have to accept that leaving the EU is going to be a long process, we cannot achieve everything at once and that we must compromise to get a settlement. Whatever agreement we reach will be a transitional arrangement and a platform to build on; I have serious doubts about Michael Gove understanding and accepting this wholeheartedly.
The Gove negotiating strategy has been set out; he is prepared to put our economy at serious risk in exchange for an immediate end to free movement. With Gove as prime minister the EEA option is dead. The majority of leavers voted on the issue of self-governance and the vast majority of remainers voted out of concern for the economy. The EEA option is a settlement to reconcile these differences and resolve the Northern Irish question, the Gibraltar problem and ease the concerns of Scotland.
If we want to be in a “free trade zone” in Europe it is the European Economic Area or nothing; and that is why Michael Gove is a real threat to an economically secure transition out of the EU. We can try and begin negotiations over a bespoke trade agreement but there is very little chance of reaching a conclusion within two years and very serious economic and political consequences for the UK and the eurozone if we fail.
We need a candidate who will be firm but understands the necessity of compromise. This is a time for pragmatists willing to work with our European partners on a strategy of transition management. This is not a time for ideologues and zealots.
Here we are Britain. June 23rd. The day of the referendum. After a long and ghastly campaign, we are finally here. This is your opportunity. Now is the time to unlock the potential for real, meaningful change. Now is the time to tell our leaders that we do not want to be governed this way anymore and it is time they stood to attention and remember who they work for. Don’t spurn this opportunity.
It is a massive change and this can be scary. I know. There is little love for the European Union in Britain but there is a huge resistance to change and uncertainty; even if it is necessary. The Remain campaign has exploited this mercilessly and Vote Leave have been woeful in offering reassurance on the economy and offering a credible plan.
Setting out on such a huge, ambitious project as leaving the European Union and building a new independent Britain is exciting, but uncertain, it offers a vast world of opportunities, but risk too.
I cannot alleviate all of that uncertainty to you now if you still have it. If there is a vote to Leave, the UK and the EU will endeavour to manage the transition in a mutually beneficial way for the good of all of Europe. There is no other way. To protect the Eurozone and the British economy a settlement based on our entry into the European Economic Area is inevitable. That means leaving the EU, joining the European Free Trade Association and remaining in the Single Market. Pragmatism will win the day; it’s sensible politics and good business.
Sometimes it becomes absolutely necessary to renew, change direction, implement sweeping reforms and modernise a country. It is much like a business; when a business becomes stagnant, bereft of new ideas and risks decline, it must change and modernise to facilitate innovation and renewal, which is the midwife of growth and prosperity. This often means short term pain. It means making difficult decisions, carrying out major restructuring and redundancies.
It is time for Britain to modernise. It is time for Britain to restructure its governance. It’s time to face the new reality of globalisation. It’s time for Britain to hand the EU its redundancy notice.
Now is the time to correct a historic mistake. Politicians in the 60’s and 70’s looked to a seemingly prosperous continent as Britain’s imperial age ended and, in their defeatism, they chose the path to subordination. Many mistakenly believed that the Common Market was simply about facilitating trade across Europe. Most of the British public thought we were joining an economic union. Many still make this mistake.
It was a myth. It was always a political union. That was always the aim. We joined a supranational union. That is what we are voting for today. Who governs Britain? How should it be governed?
There is no popular mandate for joining United States of Europe. Neither is there anything in economic integration, trade, or cooperation between nations that cannot be achieved through intergovernmental means. That means cooperation not subordination.
There is much harking back to the wars of the twentieth century and history teaches us many lessons. But I do wonder if it is healthy that after a progressively successful struggle to empower the people, to win rights, to win the vote, to win the right to elect and reject our rulers and have a say in our government we now see this all being reversed.
Over a hundred years we saw national self-determination and democracy on the march across the world, why now vote against it? When power is so far removed from the people, anger and disillusionment are inevitable. And democracies die when there is little connection between the electorate and those who rule them. Now, there is a pressing need to shift the balance of power back to the people and restore democratic accountability. It is the only hope for rebuilding faith in politics and quelling our current state of discontentment.
To vote to leave the EU is to open up new opportunities for our county. It isn’t looking back to the past but an investment in our future. It is an expression of self-confidence. It is an expression of assertiveness against complacent politicians.
The Remain campaign know full well that Britain doesn’t love the EU. There is no “positive case” for the EU. Even the federalists in the Remain camp daren’t make that case to a sceptical public. They know that a Remain campaign based on sincerity and a federal EU would have been destroyed in the ballot box.
So the Remainers scorned Leavers, bullied them and tried to smear them all as intolerant, insular, racist and hateful. And they have the gall to call us divisive. I have infinite more respect for honest federalist remainers; they are at least sincere.
Remainers have no positive reasons for voting remain, so they have emphasised the risks of leaving. The Remain campaign can be summed up by these words:
‘Better the devil you know.’
This is the Remain campaign whispering fear into our ears and cruelly playing on our lack of self-esteem.
If we heeded the remainers advice before setting off on any exciting venture we would never achieve anything in life.
It’s loser talk. Plain and simple.
‘Better the devil you know” Maybe we should have heeded that advice and stuck with James II rather than bringing about the “glorious revolution” and creating a country that enjoyed more freedom than any civilisation before it, with the rule of law, constitutional liberty and restrained government. It was the envy of the world.
People were telling Churchill the same defeatist advice when he contemplated whether to refuse a deal. They should have told Francis Drake he was stronger, safer and better off remaining before he circumnavigated the globe. Tell Christopher Columbus, ‘better devil you know’ and he never sets sail to a new continent. Tell Charles Darwin that his “theory of evolution” is a step into the unknown.
Tell the suffragettes that seeking votes for women was a leap in the dark. Margaret Thatcher, a woman and a grocer’s daughter wanted to be Prime Minister, she did so against resistance to change, and a hundred or more economists said her economic reforms would be detrimental and the Tory wets told her ‘better the devil you know’ as she sought to reverse Britain’s decline. Tell a troubled Abraham Lincoln ‘better the devil you know” as he contemplates whether to confront the south.
All of our heroes, and any great human being you can think of, are the proof that it is not always better the devil you know. Don’t take a leap in the dark, don’t choose change, better the devil you know Mandela, Washington, King, Nightingale, Nelson. Hoi, Steve Jobs, forget your crazy dreams, Tatchell! Going to Zimbabwe to protest? You’re stronger, safer and better off remaining at home.
Better the devil you know. This is not how humanity achieves greatness. Every great leap forward in our history, and in human history, has been met by resistance to change and whispers of ‘better the devil you know’. Everything we’ve ever achieved has defied this advice.
Defy it again now. It is loser talk; and we are winners.
Are we a people who can be easily downtrodden by a manipulative Government that is so devoid of ideas and positive arguments that it has to convince us that our country is feeble and better off of as province in a supranational political union?
We are not a nation of defeatists and subordinates. We are not, please tell me, a nation of fearful supplicants. We are a proud nation of independent minded and determined people. We are still a nation to be reckoned with.
Prove that today. Vote to leave the European Union.
Britain is no longer the sick man of Europe. You could be forgiven for thinking otherwise given the miserable, defeatist Remain rhetoric. It is the Eurozone that is sick. Sacrificed for the dream of a single European polity.
France has erupted into riots and social upheaval over some very modest labour market reforms, Italy has a long term stagnant economy stuck in debt deflation and struggling with a banking crisis, Spain has an extremely vulnerable economy, Greece is in a state of utter desolation, youth unemployment is a critical problem across the EU. The euro will continue to hamper the recovery of southern European countries, leaving Greece, Italy and Spain unable to devalue in order to make their exports more attractive.
On a variety of economic measures Britain consistently performs among the best EU nations. Our economic growth is set to be the best in western Europe; our unemployment rate is half that of France and Italy and a quarter of that in Spain. Yes, Britain’s economy is vulnerable to an economic downturn too; we are not out of the woods yet. But this referendum has raised the question of why we are not looking across the globe at the wealth of opportunities that it offers us? It is a parochial mindset that thinks we must be entirely focused on the stagnant economies of the EU.
David Cameron seemed to think he was making a good point by telling us we sold “more services to Lichenstein than the whole of India”; this told me that we desperately need to diversify, engage with the global trading system and break from our inward looking mindset. We need a dynamic trade strategy and a global outlook; we should be helping to jump start the global trading system and pursue agreements all over the world with our newfound agility and right of initiative.
It is not just good luck that sees us performing so well. The suffering of European economies is the fault of the EU, we are doing better because we have fought to prevent the EU binding our economy to theirs as much as is possible while still being a Member State. It is because we opted against the euro, despite the grave warnings of our politicians and the economists backing them up as they do now. Across the EU, unemployment is high because of inflexible labour markets created by the “social chapter”. An economic model that excluded such a huge number of people from employment isn’t benevolent; it’s disastrous and fatally misguided. Britain thinks differently, we look to create an environment in which jobs will be created.
Every time that Britain has confidence in itself to trust its own instincts and go its own way and say no to Brussels; we have been better off for it. Every. Single. Time.
The idea that we should stay in the EU to push our agenda is deluded. Juncker has told us today there will be more negotiation, there will be no reform. As for the idea that we can promote our economic philosophy onto other Member States, what mandate do we have for that? If the French wanted a Liberal economy they would vote for it. As would the Italians. We should lead by example as we have always done. By being with Europe, but not of it. A prosperous, liberal, independent and democratic nation helping to shape and inspire Europe.
Despite David Cameron, George Osborne and the Remain campaign talking down this country and demeaning us in every way possible the British people should not be persuaded that we owe our past and future prosperity to a sclerotic, crisis-struck EU. We are not the sick man of Europe, we are not a finished country that has to accept subordination to make its way in the world.
Don’t let our weak, duplicitous, manipulative defeatist rulers stop you believing in yourself or your country.
We are still an influential power able to make its mark in this world. Militarily, diplomatically, economically and politically. We have highly sought after expertise in every single field. We are global cultural superpower. We are still a leading voice and great influence in all of the major international organisations; that is under threat by the EU, we mustn’t be be usurped and marginalised on the international stage.
Britain is known for liberty, democracy, effective governance and a world leading constitution and rule of law. Why are we exchanging this in favour of being a vassal state in an undemocratic technocracy? The EU has removed our right of self-governance and hollowed out our institutions. It is time to take that right back and begin to rebuild.
It’s a scandal and an embarrassment that our leaders want to surrender our ability to govern ourselves and that they are willing to try and crush our spirit and foster a sense of defeat and dependency in a proud people.
Defy them. Vote to leave the European Union.
Europhiles believe that it is a necessity for Europe to be bound together under a supranational government in order to foster cooperation and maintain peace. I believe that we should cooperate as a democratic state on an equitable, intergovernmental basis and prioritise creating an inclusive market to increase prosperity in Europe and beyond.
Prosperous democratic nations are far more stable and peaceful. If the EU had concentrated on building an open European market for trade rather than dogmatically implementing its political project, we would not be having this debate or this referendum and Europe would be far happier and richer place.
I can think of few greater threats to the peace, security and stability of Europe than the rigid, uncompromising and zealous ideology of the true believers in a European state. If they deprive the European people’s of democracy, centralise authority within a vast technocracy, make electorates feel powerless and continue with uncompromising economic policies that impoverish people for ideological reasons; sooner or later there will be a backlash.
Remainers frame the debate as a choice between an independent Britain that is regressive and a European Union that is progressive. This is a powerful supranational organisation that has ruined the economies of Southern Europe and sent youth unemployment soaring because of their ideological zeal for the Euro; which was intended to be a catalyst for deeper political integration. It has turned impoverished Greece into a prison for refugees. It has made amoral deals with the rotten regimes in Turkey and Sudan to do its dirty work as it seeks to compensate for its woeful initial response to the crisis. It has pillaged the seas of Africa with its exploitative fishing deals and hindered its development with its bullying and dogmatic trade policies.
When voters cause problems that obstruct the goals of the project they are overruled. When Denmark voted against the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 and Ireland against the Nice Treaty in 2001 and the Lisbon Treaty in 2008, they were told to go away and come back with the right answer. When France and the Netherlands voted against the European Constitution in 2005, their decision was disregarded. The inevitable consequence of power being so far removed from ordinary people is apathy, resentment and frustration. Disengagement with EU politics is widespread and increasing to the extent that the EU has no real democratic legitimacy.
The EU isn’t about trade and cooperation, it’s about power and subordination. It doesn’t simply exist to keep the peace and we cannot be bound forever by the memory of war. It has desires to be a state and it causing enormous damage in pursuit of that aim. It isn’t progressive; it’s a regressive and archaic utopian ideology from the 1920’s. It’s an anti-democratic supranational organisation that subordinates national governments and renders them vassals. It operates through the husks of British political institutions, which decay before our eyes.
Britain has always led by example in Europe; we must do so once again. Brexit is now the only way to positively reform Europe and show that democracy, trade, and intergovernmental cooperation is the key to relating to each other peacefully as a community of equals.
The eurozone is dysfunctional and another, more severe economic crisis seems inevitable. The next catalyst for this could well be Italy, or a political upheaval in Spain or France or indeed another global recession or banking collapse. The political turmoil will be massive. All for the political project of vainglorious politicians.
The EU is reaching a crossroads. As it is currently set up it is not working and is doomed to fail with wide spread consequences. According to every federalist think tank, and the 5 presidents, the solution to this is deeper integration; the completion of economic, monetary and political union. This means further centralisation and more power for EU institutions and less for nation states. It means more power to control and intervene in the economies of Member States. It will be the greatest step yet towards creating a united state under a supreme government, whether or not will work is questionable. The EU can never be a democracy; thus it is politically and socially unsustainable.
Democracy means “people power”. The word democracy stems from the Greek word, dēmokratía, comprising two parts: dêmos “people” and kratos “power”. Democracy requires a demos, a people, a unit with which we identify when we refer to “we”. Without a demos we are left only with kratos i.e. without a sense of sense of unity, common good and civic patriotism; the state must use power to compel by force of law what it cannot obtain by consent.
Without a people there can be no democracy. The British are a people, the Spanish are a people, and the Germans are a people. The United States may be divided and diverse but the Americans are a people. The Swiss speak multiple languages but there are a people. We can create an environment in which we coexist peacefully and happily, cooperate, move freely and we can integrate our economies for the common good. But we cannot forcibly create a people. I am not being pessimistic, I am just being realistic because this kind of utopianism is dangerous.
There is no pan European politics. The Spanish have little knowledge of British politics, the Italians don’t care about Lithuanian politics and Polish have little knowledge of Danish politics. This is what makes the Council of Ministers democratically illegitimate. A resident of Spain has the right to ask how it is democratic that a Minister from Britain, or France, is essentially part of their governance. Does resident of, say, Torrejieva share a strong enough connection or sense of loyalty to someone from Leeds to engender the effective unselfishness necessary for a functioning democratic nation? For the conservation of freedom and, crucially, consent? Without a demos as a foundation, there is nothing on which to base a democratic political union. So we have distant managerialism. This is not what I want for Britain.
Think tanks often suggest ways of addressing the so-called “democratic deficit”, but that will be merely tinkering on the edges; any attempt to make it properly democratic will be blocked every step of the way. Forget delusions of pan-European elections. Without a close understanding between the people and their government this is only a voting ritual and sham democracy. There would be no accountability, just elitism, not community of equals, just powerful states bullying minor states.
The EU will never be a democracy. It simply was never meant to be. A supreme government headed by an unelected executive with monopoly over the legislative process ruling over 500 million people of different languages and cultures with no unifying demos and very little capacity to bring about change can never be democratic.
So further integration means that the EU will become a fully fledged technocracy. A bloated politically centralised state with power in the hands of an unelected executive, an illegitimate legislature, and unelected bureaucrats. This ideological intellectual idealist’s dream will lead inevitably to popular revolt, a rise of nationalism and fascist uprisings. When power is so far removed from the people, anger, resentment and disillusionment are inevitable.
Britain, and possibly several other EU states that are not comfortable with the direction of travel need to purse a new model for cooperation and economic integration in the European political system. It is possible, though far from guaranteed, that a small core of Member States could then make integration work in a functional union (though I doubt its long term sustainability).
We need to initiate a managed transition out of the EU and create a viable, market based alternative to the Eurozone. The first stage of this is to rejoin the European Free Trade Association and trade with the EU via the EEA. This in itself creates a powerful trading bloc; the fourth largest in the world. Working alongside Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein – possibly even the Netherlands and Denmark may seek to join – we can evolve this model, reform the agreements to better suit our requirements and there we have our “British option”.
It means real influence in EU rules, more control of our laws, more controls on immigration, free trade across Europe and a vast repatriation of policy making including trade, agriculture, fishing and energy. It means control of foreign affairs, environment, transport and telecommunications. It means regaining self-governance.
This is a Europe of two systems that could actually function. A eurozone polity, and a decentralised trade based bloc. These two blocs would cooperate across a wide range of activities such as security, science, aviation, sport and academia. Britain should further encourage a process that is already taking place; the outsourcing of the regulation of the single market to UNECE and other global bodies to facilitate the creation of a genuine European marketplace. In the future it is clear the EU will lose its grip on the single market as regulation becomes globalised and the arguments of the Remain campaign will be exposed as short sighted, parochial and unambitious. There is no reason this genuine economic community could not include non-EU states; step by step we can build a global market. It is happening already.
If we want democracy, cooperation and trade and economic integration and self-governance then we can have it by voting to leave the EU. Remain doesn’t mean the safe status quo; it’s an endorsement of our subjugation in a developing technocracy. Only by leaving the EU can we reform it and develop a place in the European system that we can all be happy with. Leaving means becoming a partner of the EU not a province of it. The EU will be our ally, not our government and not our superior.
We have nothing to lose by choosing national independence. Please do the right thing tomorrow.
The Remain campaign is based almost entirely on the benefits of the Single Market. As I have previously pointed out, remaining in the Single Market is likely to be central to Brexit transition management. So the only argument remainers have for sacrificing democracy is that we need to “have a say” on the rules. This is short sighted and unambitious.
Trade is increasingly being organised at a global level between international organisations ranging from private sector rulemaking bodies such as the ISO, to quasi-governmental institutions under the wing of the United Nations and the WTO. Together they form a rapidly evolving global rules based trading system in which the EU’s rules are subordinate. With a global regulatory regime emerging to harmonise standards, facilitate trade and thereby increase and spread prosperity, we are witnessing the construction of a global single market.
An independent Britain can develop links with emerging economies and pioneer the elimination of technical barriers to trade (TBT). It is TBT’s, not tariffs, which are hindering free trade. When we leave the EU we can play an active part in kick starting the global trading system and reinvigorating global trade.
Remainers have repeatedly asserted that the global system has stalled but there are encouraging signs of progress. The 2013 WTO Bali trade facilitation agreement is of huge significance but it is little discussed in Britain because our Eurocentrism encourages a parochial outlook. Its potential for facilitating trade and increasing prosperity goes beyond any single trade agreement.
It aims to reduce red-tape and streamline customs procedures on a worldwide scale. The World Bank has stated that if all countries reduced supply chain barriers halfway to best practice, global GDP could increase by 4.7% or $2.6 trillion, potentially worth about $60 billion a year to the UK. World trade overall could increase by 14.5%, or $1.6 trillion, far outweighing the benefits from the elimination of import tariffs.
The global economy will be enhanced not through bilateralism but multilateral trade agreements and the harmonisation of standards. For example, an agreement on a global tyre specification for passenger vehicles could save $40 billion a year. Standardising nomenclature for existing pharmaceutical products could save $20 billion. Adopting electronic documentation for the air cargo industry could yield $12 billion in annual savings and prevent 70-80% of paperwork-related delays.
This will not happen spontaneously. It will take a great deal of work, cooperation and leadership. It is in leadership of this global model that the EU fails. While the WTO agreement is a celebration of multilateralism in world trade, the EU obsession with regional trade agreements and advancing its political agenda is diverting attention away from an initiative of immense importance.
By forging ad hoc alliances and building a coalition of the willing the UK can help put theglobal interest back on the agenda. By breaking away from exclusionary and restrictive regional trade agreements we can instead give priority to multilateral trade facilitation which will have a galvanising effect on world trade.
This is the positive Brexit agenda. In a world that is increasingly global we are surrendering our voice, veto and right of initiative on the world stage. With vast potential economic gains at stake from improved global trading we need to look out to the world and all the fantastic opportunities that a globalist outlook offers us. We need to take back control of our trade policy.
Britain can be a champion of free trade, intergovernmental cooperation and reform. We will gradually break away from the protectionist EU model and look beyond the limited bilateral model of trade and towards a multilateral strategy.