Wednesday, 13 June 2018

I'm not giving up and nor should you.

A Lords amendment that would effectively mean staying in the European Economic Area has been defeated. So is there now any point in making a case for the EEA? Yes. Yes there is. For one simple reason. There is no other option. Third country means third country. There is no other available means to preserve single market trade. There is no bespoke deal to be had that could safeguard EU trade in the same way.

That our miscreant MPs have rejected the option as part of an amendment is neither here nor there. It remains the one viable path and we need to keep saying so. No amount of ducking the issue can make the realities of being a third country go away.

But isn't it futile? Maybe. But it needs to be argued if only for historical record that there is/was a solution and our moronic MPs caved into the media groupthink. More to the point, it ain't over til it's over. The future relationship is not decided yet.

The future relationship is not set in stone and will not be defined in the withdrawal agreement. That comes later and there are other windows in which to push the option - which will look more and more attractive as the other options become clear. We are not at crunch point yet.

What we have seen tonight is procedural politicking which has no bearing on reality. Votes are more along party political lines for strategic reasons and bear little semblance to what is actually happening - nor is it relevant to the bill itself. There are other windows.

Too many MPs still think there is a means by which we can have the same level of market access and more freedom to diverge. It's the "we can get a better deal than Norway" mentality that has plagued us from the beginning.

But to be blunt there is very little that the EU can do to go beyond a comprehensive FTA. They have said so time and again. I take them at their word because I understand the system. MPs do not. If you want single market rights then you need to be in it. So for the time being, anyone who does not want to see a trainwreck needs to learn the definition of third country and make clear what the consequences are. I think the fight is still winnable and we still have a year to make the case.

There is no point giving up making the case for the EEA because an enhanced FTA still means we are subject to the standard third country controls and are excluded from several lucrative markets. We need to hit home with that reality. Some suggest an association agreement could be a solution but that means accepting EU rules verbatim having no say, unlike Norway. That would be true vassal state status. That singular fact might turn the tide when the penny drops.

The ugly facts of leaving the EEA means one of two things. Either we end up as a vassal state like Switzerland adopting the rules verbatim - with even less say than Norway or worse - a third country with no participation rights at all - in which case our MPs have just pissed away every aerospace services job in Bristol and screwed over the UK automotive sector. Even if we negotiate a tariff free deal, being outside of the EU approvals system means being subject to full third country controls.

Politically the EEA may look dead in the water, and admittedly it does not look good but it ain't over til it's over. Politics is a continuum and the game is never finished. I will continue to fight for it.  

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