Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Norway Option is here to stay

Here follows as short extract from the Vote Leave newsletter.
The Prime Minister is travelling to Iceland today to warn about the dangers of the 'Norway option'. He claims that if the UK left the EU and negotiated a deal like Norway's there would be 'significant downsides'. This is disingenuous. The UK will not need to accept the 'Norway option'. We will be able to get our own deal. David Cameron should stop doing down Britain.

David Cameron wants Vote Leave to commit to the 'Norway option'. We have not and will not. After we Vote Leave, Britain will negotiate our own agreement - we will not just take one off the shelf. Many countries around the world and in Europe have a free trade deal with the EU without being subject to the supremacy of EU law. Britain can do the same.
Here we detect the dead hand of Dominic Cummings. This is ignorance on stilts for reasons outlined here. Only someone speaking from a position of supreme ignorance could assert "Britain will negotiate our own agreement". Easier said than done in the time frame allowed, and fraught with complexity which means all manner of uncertainty and disruption. That alone loses us the referendum as we are not able to specify the likely terms of separation.

By entering the campaign without setting out certain reassurances, the campaign content is left guessing as to what Brexit may or may not achieve, without any coherent message - producing a number of inconsistencies. The Remain campaign will take this apart with great ease.

From a technical and legal perspective, the Norway Option is the only option that could realistically be replicated inside the two year negotiation period under Article 50 which is why we propose it. It offers certain reassurances and guarantees. The model is a proposed as an interim measure in order to ensure continuity of the regulatory framework and access to the single market. Whatever Cummings has in mind can not make any such guarantees and leaves everybody guessing. That's a referendum loser right there.

By adopting the Norway Option we can then set about the process of further disentangling ourselves from the EU. Forty years of integration is not undone so easily thus the Norway Option is the most pragmatic way of doing it. It is sub-optimal, but that's really not the point. That only matters if it is the destination and not a stepping stone in the process. And that really is the point. Brexit is a process, not an event.

Even if the political meme that "Norway has no say in the rules" were true, it would still be the only safe route out of the EU. What it does give us immediately is a vote and a veto at all the top tables where the real regulatory agenda is set. That alone is worth having even if we have to make compromises on various eurosceptic sacred cows for the time being.

Strategically it's a better position to take because when Cameron does present something along the lines of associate membership and promotes it as the best deal for Britain, we get to offer more or less exactly the same but with independent voting rights and a veto on the international stage. The best of both worlds with no uncertainty. 

Failure to adopt the Norway Option as part of the process means the Leave campaign turns down the opportunity of having a debate we can win hands down and to open up a conversation about the influence of global organisations. The Remain campaign is not in the least bit equipped to deal with it, not least because they are barely aware it exists. We on the other hand have years worth of evidence with which to meet their baseless conjecture. 

But no, Cummings has spoken. We are instead going to play guessing games with vague aspirations based on a a whimsical idea of how things work which exists only in the imagination of one Dominic Cummings. What is notable here is the arrogance of the man in dictating the terms of the Leave Campaign. It should be noted that Vote Leave has not yet received the Electoral Commission nomination and he speaks only for himself and a handful of SW1 cronies, none of whom have a mandate from anyone. The Vote Leave campaign does not own the space or set the agenda either. 

In fact since both Leave.EU and Business for Elliott have been mute about the Norway Option, the PM and the europhile outfits are in fact attacking the RPG efforts, in that it is we who are pushing it hard on Twitter while the part timers pump out Twitter memes and the usual eurosceptic tripe. If the Norway Option didn't frighten their horses, why are they throwing so much effort into attacking it?

That said, there is no good reason to care what Cummings thinks or what Vote Leave says. We are here, we are not going away and as far as the internet is concerned, we will continue set the agenda because the others have no intellectual capital, and have thus far shown no leadership in setting out any ideas. They have done nothing to help those who are fighting and winning critical arguments. The kippers have gone AWOL and the part timers who retweet Vote Leave memes in that bovine way are not going to be able to fight the case made by Cummings not least because if he doesn't know what it is, how can anybody else?

Cummings can make all the pronouncements and decrees he likes, but he does not control the message and if he thinks he's we're going to drop everything and follow his lead then he is sorely mistaken. We cannot unite behind a flawed message and certainly not one devised by a treacherous thief like Cummings.

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