Monday, 26 October 2015

What is Dominic Cummings afraid of?

We now have confirmation that the Vote Leave will not pursue the "Norway option". This is actually neither here noir there in that the group has not secured the electoral commission nomination yet and speaks only for itself. Not only will they not pursue it, Dominic Cummings is militantly against it.

Precisely why the establishment Remain campaigns want us to go down that path I don't know, and who says they do? Suffice to say that one way of the other the Leave campaign is going to have to specify eventually how it envisions our relationship with the EU. When it finally comes to this, having had no coordination in the campaign and having failed to set out a plan, Cummings will find that whatever promises he as made may not be possible, thus undermining all his prior efforts.

Certainly, we can see that the Remain campaign will lie through their teeth in attacking any option we put on the table, so why not go with the most politically realistic one? How well their rhetoric sticks depends entirely on the effectiveness of the Leave campaign.

I would argue that the Remain campaign are making so much noise about the Norway Option specifically because it's the most credible. Certainly it's the argument our team are most confident of winning and are fully prepared to fight. The "Norway has no influence" meme just does not stick whichever way you want to look at it.

It is a matter of legal and technical and historical fact that by any avenue an article of law becomes Norwegian law, Norway has been fully involved in the process, it does secure WTO reservations and it does have a veto.

Europhiles argue that Norway has "never used the veto", and that's largely because it doesn't need to. Measures often do not go to a vote unless there is a consensus in the committee stages. Moreover, Norway is involved in all the regulatory bodies thus ensuring it has a voice in shaping the regulations before it even enters the law making process.

Of course, this is not so easily communicated by way of cheap Twitter memes, specifically because Norway has many different types of vetoes and rights of reservation that are entirely context specific and we'd be here all night if I attempted to explain them.

There are examples of where the EU has pressed ahead with demands and Norway has rolled over. The end of the Efta blocs protectionist measures on alcohol imports is one such example, where Norway eventually caved into market liberalisation. But this all depends on who is in power in Norway at any given time. When it has a europhile party in power, they gladly drop their knickers on the EU's command, and so europhiles can say with some justification that Norway does accept a lot of rules without "having a say".

In supporting their hypothesis, there are any number of authority figures within Norway who would be only too happy to see Norway as part of the EU so will gladly repeat the mantras that Norway accepts laws without being able to block them, but these are the same politicians who wouldn't actually know if blocking such rules is possible because they didn't actually try - and some Norwegians are seriously pissed off about it.

We have written countless articles on Norwegian influence and anywhere you want to look, from sustainable development, human rights to food additives and car wing mirrors, you will see Norway actively engaged, often chairing international conventions. If Norway can, then the UK, the fifth largest economy in the world, most certainly can.

An effective Leave campaign with a decent budget should have no problems whatsoever exposing the pernicious lie that Dominic Cummings is evidently terrified of. Perhaps it's the "decent budget" aspect he's worried about what with all his Tory pals having their fingers in the till? I couldn't possibly comment.

But even IF the Remain campaign was right about this, we know the Norway Option is sub-optimal and it has not been suggested that Norway's relationship is the destination. It is merely the most headache free interim stage because Brexit is a process, not an event. It's the fastest way out of the EU with the maximum reassurance.

Cummings on the other hand prefers to wing it on the basis of only a limited knowledge - thus is most likely going to lead the campaign up the garden path, making unrealisable assertions that the Remain campaign will go to town on. Without the necessary expertise to counter it - and without his ambitions having any basis in reality, he alone will be the man who loses this referendum. I hope he can live with that.

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