Monday 1 February 2016

Eurosceptic tantrums will keep us in the EU

A comment on my earlier piece reveals just how little progress we have made.
Pete, what you are talking about is not Brexit. it is not separation. It is the worst of all possible worlds - associate status bound by all the rules, with no say, with no freedom. if that is the Out you want, I don't want it. Seriously - why are you bothering to fight for that? What does it offer? If we don't have sovereignty it's pointless.
Not for the first time have I seen this kind of comment made about Flexcit and the Norway Option - nearly always from people who aggressively advocate the suicidally stupid WTO option.

First off, we have only ever advocated the Norway Option as stage one in recognition that it is politically and economically impossible to simply rip up treaties without causing massive fallout. If we say to the public that we want it all now, with all the risk and uncertainty that offers then they will vote for the status quo, not least after a thorough examination by opinion formers revealing that the option is a non starter.

The Norway Option, or Market Solution as we are now calling it, accomplishes the first hurdle. It gets us out of the EU - the political union. So yes, it IS Brexit. That alone is something to celebrate, but it leaves us in the single market, thus nullifying all the scaremongering.

As to obeying the rules, of course we will. As we point out, the point of regulation is standardisation for the purposes of trade facilitation. We take the rough with the smooth largely because everybody doing their own thing with different regulations and different equipment, different qualifications and different systems causes all kinds of complications and overheads. Business likes standards and regulations. Things work better.

The Eurosceptic notion that we will have a slash and burn session the day after we leave the EU is risible. Moreover, if our commenter had read this blog before, he would know what you know. The EU is becoming increasingly redundant as most of its efforts are now focussed on harmonising its own regulations with international standards - regulations they themselves adopted from global agencies.

As developing countries begin to catch up to the rest they are also abiding by global standards and regulations devised by the IMO, ILO, UNECE and the likes. Put simply, if we want to export goods and services anywhere we will have to comply with mutually agreed standards and practices. The nature of trade is now less about border tariffs as it is about securing mutual recognition of standards, qualifications and practices. That is why walking away from the single market is no easy feat.

The point is, we will never again see a world where we do not adopt laws and processes and conventions and the sovereignty that matters is our vote and our veto at all the top tables where the rules are made. This is the problem we have with the EU in that it restricts our access to the top tables, overrides our concerns and stands in the way of producing better regulation.

The fact is, we don't want to deregulate. We just want regulation that works better and we are more likely to achieve it by having direct access to the top tables and the leverage of a veto. From day one of leaving the EU we get that.

If you think as John Redwood does, that we can turn the clock back, rip up treaties, slash and burn at regulation then we would rapidly find that other countries would not do business with us. As much as an unstable country that rips up treaties is bad news, one that does not conform to global standards makes for an expensive trading partner. Put simply there is little value in deregulation.

In any case, when businesses moan about regulation they are in fact moaning about the standards and the cost of implementing those. We might note that the loss of business they would experience if they did not conform to international standards would be a magnitude larger. In this, Britain would benefit from having more input in the creation of standards, but that would require a good deal of domestic reform to ensure that small businesses are properly represented through trade guilds.

As to paying into the EU budget, there are areas of common interest where there is every advantage in mutual cooperation and pooling resources, not least to keep the costs down. At the moment, we are forced to adopt the common EU position without right of reservation or veto and acquiescing to the EU is mandatory. We are not permitted to work outside of the EU frameworks or to work with ad hoc alliances. Again, just leaving the EU in the first instance changes all that before we even begin to look at the next stages.

So really, yes, the Market Solution most definitely IS Brexit and does give us the maximum freedom and sovereignty we can possibly expect in a modern globalised trading system. Moreover, as we have already discussed, running to regulatory systems, one for export and one for the domestic market creates all kinds of overheads and difficulties than mean producers will automatically opt for the export standard, thus negating any real value in divergence.

The point here is that there is no ripping up contracts and treaties. The argument about "EU red tape" is an old hat and obsolete argument, the complaints are mainly silly histrionics and the only grown up, risk free means of leaving the EU is to do it in stages. Yes that does mean compromises, causing our critics to stamp their feet and have childish tantrums, but if all they can present to the public is a nihilistic desire to make adversaries of the EU and close of avenues of cooperation then the public will rightly reject them and business will want no part of Brexit.

This will mean compromising on freedom of movement, but as Migration Watch pointed out the other day, closing down freedom of movement reduces the influx by little more than one hundred thousand, which is about the level when Ukip started moaning about immigration in the first place. More to the point it frustrates a lot of the flexibility and business agility we do want while doing precisely nothing about asylum and immigration from outside of the EU, which is the central part of the problem, largely relating to various human rights legislation.

The fact is, political, social and economic integration over forty years is not undone at the stroke of a pen. It will take several years to complete and to get what we want will take continuous political pressure. It's not simply a case of voting to leave, throwing a big party and returning to the fields. It's going to require a lot more patience and maturity presently on display from eurosceptics and it's not all going to go the way we want it. We fully recognise that the Market Solution is not optimal, but how well we fare is contingent on what we do after we leave.

Those who stamp their feet, pushing the WTO option are pushing a political fiction that is simply never going to happen and not even desirable. There is no way in hell our civil service or our politicians would set us on such a suicidal path and even if we could force that chain of events, if we are saying to voters that this is our vision for Britain, then there is not a cat in hells chance of winning the popular vote. It's an extremist position and swing voters won't vote for it.

It depresses me that I am still having to write these posts going over the basics. Thanks to the likes of John Redwood the debate is actually regressing and because we get no cooperation from the main campaigns in pushing the broader globalist agenda, we are still hearing the same tired old mantras that simply won't stand up to scrutiny when the debate intensifies. It is little wonder we are losing ground in the polls. If the classic eurosceptic baggage really is to be the central theme of our campaing then I fully expect to lose this referendum.

Those who say Flexcit is not Brexit really do display a profound ignorance and moreover, to judge the debate by the chapter you walked in on without having the courtesy to read Flexcit is actually a little offensive. Flexcit offers the safest means of leaving the EU while nullifying all of the scaremongering of the opposition and shifts the debating goalposts into a killzone the opposition is not equipped to fight. It is our best weapon in this fight. If you are not prepared to grow up and accept the political realities, then this whole eurosceptic movement has been a total and utter waste of everyone's time. These tantrums have to stop.

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