Whilst CIB has done much to expose the damage done to our constitution and freedoms by EU membership, less thought was given to the mechanism by which we would leave the EU and establish a new, constructive relationship with our European neighbours.
Such has been the frenzied level of debate about the merits of withdrawal from the EU this past week that all but the most arrdent political anoraks may well have been tempted to switch off.
It is important, however, that anyone aspiring to see our country regain its independence keeps abreast with the debate, even though there have been so many barbs traded in recent days that it is impossible to summarise every development on this one website.
Two particular issues need addressing. The first concerns the threat by some French ministers to scap the Le Touquet Treaty, which alllows the UK to implement border controls in France. It’s hardly surprising that the Mayor of Calais doesn’t like this arrangemement, as this has led to the creation of the so-called “jungle” on his doorstep. It’s also no surprise that an ambitious minister like Emmanuel Macron should jump on the bandwagon and threaten that France could (note the word “could”, not “would”) pull out of the treaty if we withdrew from the EU.
The Le Touquet treaty was seen by both governments as the least bad way of addressing a situation which neither country really wanted. Its abolition wold be in no one’s interests. If the French were to allow refugees to pass unhindered to an independent UK, we could repudiate the 1951 Convention on the Treatment of Refugees (and the 1967 Protocol), and also the European Convention on Human Rights, which would allow us to send them straight back on the next ferry or shuttle.
M. Hollande and his government want us to stay in for domestic reasons as much as anything else. He is not a popular president and a UK withdrawal would encourage Marine le Pen’s Front National to exploit Hollande’s unpopularity and offer France an in/out referendum. Also, her party would be have been keen to exploit opposition to the Le Touquet Treaty, so it pays for Macron and co to claim this space first, even if all they intend to do is huff and puff.
A more serious issue is the claim by Philip Hammond that he intended to “smoke out” the Leave campaign and show that no independence scenario on offer is economically viable. In many ways, it is good that he has raised this issue so early in the campaign, as it gives us time to tighten up our act.
Predictably, the EEA/EFTA route, or rather the use of Norway as template, was a prime target. As always, the BBC provided a willing Norwegian whinger, this time in the shape of Erna Solberg, Norway’s Prime Minister, who said she would like her country to be in the EU because it “lacks influence”. The BBC, as always, spoke to the wrong woman. Solberg, like most of Norway’s political élite, is still wedded to the idea of EU membership, even though the majority of her coutrymen and women are not. She is therefore prepared to lie, keen to avoid Brexit as it would finally kill off any chance of her country ever joining the EU. The BBC should have instead spoken to Helle Hagenau of the Norwegian nei til EU campaign (depicted above), who wold have pointed out that Norway DOES have influence in the framing of EEA legislation, even if it does not have a final vote.
You wil be able to hear Helle speak at our annual Rally on May 14th, but before then, you can read two helpful leaflets she and her team have written (See here and here). Furthermore, Anthony Scholefield has produced a detailed comparision of EEA membership and Norway’s relationship with the EU which features in our Referendum Review and which gives the lie to any sense that Norway has a worse deal by being out of the EU.
Norway has full representation on international bodies; it has to implement less than 1/3 of EU legislation – i.e., anything marked “EEA relevant” and if it refuses to do so, it cannot be taken to court by the ECJ. Of course, using this option as a template for a newly-independent UK would require us to accept free movement of people. This isn’t popular with some “leave” supporters, but it’s still better than Cameron’s so-called “deal” as we could invoke Articles 112-113 of the EEA agreement unilaterally rather than having to ask permission for all the other countries and we could keep these articles in force for as long as we want.
Furthermore, advocates of the EEA/EFTA route only see it as a stepping stone. fully admitting that it isn’t ideal in the long term. When other supporters of “leave” say that we could do better than Norway, they are quite right, but reaching that point will take time. We need a safe route through the exit door first. For anyone wishing to find out more about the most detailed exit plan written thus far, you are welcome to attend the launch of the Leave Alliance on Wednesday 16th March. The strategy to be unveiled will answer all the issues which the “remain” camp have raised and thus enable us to concentrate on attacking the dodgy deal which our dodgy Prime Minister is trying to sell us as a full revision of the country’s EU membership. It is nothing of the sort and the country needs to be made aware of this.
It could be a full-time job just to debunk all the nonsense that is doing the rounds at the moment.
The latest scare story to do the rounds is a suggestion that UK withdrawal would trigger “ten years of uncertainty.” This is partly based on fears about the validity of trade deals negotiated by the EU on our behalf (and the other member states too, of course).
Lord Lawson, interviewed on the World At One, disputed this and he is right. At a recent seminar Robert Oulds, a CIB Committee member, explained that there was a “presumption of continuance” when one party to a trade deal underwent a change of circumstances. Thus, we would still be able to participate in such trade deals as those negotiated between the EU and Chile, Mexico and South Korea on leaving the EU. Let’s face it, this is sheer common sense; why would either party not want to continue? All that would be needed is for the two parties to sign an agreement stating that they wish the deal to continue.
Of course, trading with the EU could be more complex and this is why there has been much support for using the so-called Norway Option (re-joining EFTA to allow sealess access to the EEA) to tide us over. It is possible that the desired Europe-wide genuine Free Trade agreement which would replace the EEA COULD take another 10 years, but as long as trade continues seamlessly throughout the withdrawal period, as it would with the EEA/EFTA secnario, no one need be worried. Indeed, as Richard North has put it, this ten years would be a Decade of opportunity.
While we’re at it, claims that we need ot stay in the EU for security grounds have also been dismissed by Richard Walton, Scotland Yard’s former head of Counter Terrorism. According to an article in the Daily Telegraph, he said that reducing terror plots is “absolutely not” dependent on being a member of the European Union. “So let’s not scare the horses with fears about Brexit.” How many more scare stories are we going to have to debunk?
Returning to the World At One feature, it was correct on one point. An academic was quoted saying that once Article 50 is invoked. “the train has left the station” – in other words, withdrawal MUST happen.
Is this scary? Hardly. If you were told, “After 43 years in prison, we’re going to let you out soon, but beware! Once you go through that prison door, we’re never going to let you back in again”, would you really worry about that?
Helle Hagenau, of Norway’s Nei til EU campaign, will be one of the speakers at our annual rally on Saturday May 14th. She has sent us a brief letter of support along with two useful factsheets, which can be downloaded here and here. One addresses the misinformation about how much EFTA countries like Norway pay to access theEU and the other sets out clearly and accurately the advantages Norway and other EFTA countries enjoy over EU members. Both can be downloaded and circulated – in fact, please do so! The more misonformation we can counter, the better.
Here is her letter:-
No to EU in Norway is determined to assist in almost every way possible in your referendum campaign. From time to time, we pick up issues where Norway is mentioned and where the remain side got it completely wrong. In order to counter these claims, we intend to produce a number of fact sheets about Norway, the EEA agreement and the EU. The first two fact sheets are attached to this e-mail.
One is about “The difference between EU membership and the EEA agreement” and the other deals with “Norway’s financial contribution to the EU & EEA”. We hope you will find these sheets relevant and useful.
Keep up the good work!
On behalf of No to EU
Head of International Affairs
The EU referendum is winnable for the pro-democracy campaign if we engage the ‘undecideds’ with an option they feel comfortable voting for. The two campaign teams will likely be aiming to influence this group of voters.
People vote for all kinds of reasons, so we need to choose an option they could find it easy to understand and vote for. In addition, winning by 51%, I feel, is not enough. We would be better by winning with 60% or more. Why? Since there are 650 MPs in Parliament, they could benefit from having an incentive to expedite the upgrade to democracy, since they would like to be re-elected, and to delay implementation could harm their re-election prospects. This would avoid the possibility of taking up to 10 years, like the Swiss, to implement a bi-lateral agreement. Also Britain’s traditional role in Europe has been helping the restoration of self-government, so choosing an option other similar counties could win is useful.
What option could win over 60%? There is only one so far, and that is the EFTA/EEA option (European Free Trade Association www.efta.int and European Economic Area) where a Survation poll showed that 71% preferred it to EU/EEA with 29%.
EFTA countries include: Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. The EEA (Single Market) allows for free movement of goods, service, people and capital, with opt out and special provisions for some countries, e.g. Denmark has an opt out on Justice, Home affairs and buying of property, and Liechtenstein has special provisions on immigration control. See Page 36 of the attached document.
An upgrade to a win-win option is possible and winnable.
What would be the benefits of switching to EFTA/EEA + Opt Outs?
Firstly, what are some of the current disadvantages of EU membership?
- A cumulative net financial contribution, since joining of £130bn, for what people were told was a free trade deal, with no tariffs
- A cumulative trade deficit of over £400bn, resulting in exporting jobs, so leading to less jobs, less company sales, so also less tax revenues in the areas of income tax, corporation tax, VAT, council taxes and more, so needing higher taxes and borrowing to pay for services and cuts in services.
- Higher EU regulatory burden on the whole economy, when only 9% of GDP trades with the EU, with some estimates putting the cost at 10% of GDP
- Experiments with white elephants, wasting taxpayers money, for example HS2, large computer projects
- Poor role model, especially for public sectors, demoralising staff with, top down decision making, little frontline ideas implemented, ineffective meetings, bureaucratic, promotion based on political reasons, longer decision making time, poor communication
- Financial accounts not signed off for over 15 years, by auditors
- Free movement has a major flaw, as there are few consequences for people voting for corrupt and incompetent politicians as they can wander into another country and get a job and/or claim benefits
- Uncontrolled immigration leading to a drop in wages and rise in rents/house prices, so lowering living standards to what could be achieved
- Taking skilled educated people from mainly Eastern Europe and asset stripping their skills and reducing their tax base, with a lower population
- Distorting elections in EU countries that receive funds, since money spent makes the existing government look good
- Large businesses and cartels can more easily lobby the EU to get unnecessary regulations passed that raise the barriers to entry for new businesses, so leading to higher prices for the public.
- As power is centralised with fewer people so is wealth
The benefits of EFTA/EEA + Opt Outs are many:
- Saving around £5bn a year in direct net contributions
- Using a similar provision as Liechtenstein, the control of immigration could be implemented
- New eastern Europeans can only get 1 year working visas, with no children, and a points system for skills based for longer time
- Other EEA countries new immigrants can have free movement as long as their unemployment is below 7%, otherwise only a 1 year working visa, points system for longer
- If UK unemployment is over 7%, then all new EEA countries immigrants can only have 1 year working visa, points system for longer
- New people from outside the EEA who acquire EEA passports e.g. a Russian getting a Malta could have a 1 year working visas, with point system for staying longer
- The first year of being in the UK, new immigrants could not claim any benefits, then for next 2 years, they can claim benefits, comparing the UK and the country of origin benefits, and receiving whichever is the lowest
- EEA people with previous serious criminal offences – i.e. not parking or speeding fines – are barred from entering the UK
- Anyone wishing to buy a new residential property, EEA or from around the world, would need to live in the UK for at least 5 years continuously, for at least 7 months of the year
- The above would be reciprocal with other EU countries
- Reduction in regulations applying, with only the 4,700 EEA regulations applying and the 15,000 EU regulations open to amending or repealing.
- Control of Home Affairs, i.e. no EAW, European Arrest Warrant, no EU asylum policy
- Control of Justice, no ECJ, European Court of Justice
- Control of Fisheries and Agriculture
- Veto option of any new EEA regulations
- An EFTA office in Brussels, with website with links to EFTA/EEA powerpoint presentations http://www.efta.int/eea/seminars
- A UK seat on world bodies which make regulations which are passed to the EU, which the UK could regain a vote and voice.
- EFTA accounts signed off every year by auditors
- Other Northern European countries could win EFTA/EEA + Opt Out referendums, e.g. Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands.
- The upgrades could be done within a week of a referendum, using article 112 of the EEA, for ‘unilateral measures’, while the renegotiation goes on the changing of the EEA http://www.efta.int/eea/eea-agreement
- Ability to make Free Trade Agreements with any country e.g. Canada
Here is a map of the possible expansion of EFTA in the future:-
The possible Opt Outs of the EEA include:
- Movement of people, Articles 28, 29, 30 and 31
- Property ownership, maybe Article 125
Benefits: Likely benefits include:
- Lower living costs
- Higher wage growth
- More democracy
- Easier ability to save for retirement
- Less wasted tax money
- Less government borrowing and/or lower taxes
Questions and Answers:
Q. Why the EFTA/EEA + Opt Out option?
A. It is a working off-the-shelf alternative, and easy to explain in a referendum, also which articles the UK wishes to opt out from, so making it easy to have a meeting within a week of a possible referendum win, to have a clear list for a meeting. This would help speed up negotiations.
Q. The opinion polls show around a 50% -50% split with voters, why not hope the ‘Leave’ campaign can win with a complete ‘Out’ option, and not spelling out what ‘Out’ looks like.
A. This was tried in 1975, and the ‘undecideds’ voted for the status quo and democracy lost by 67% to 33%. EFTA/EEA has support of 71% to 29% EU/EEA, without Don’t Knows. In detail: EFTA/EEA 543%, EU/EEA 22.2%, Don’t Know 23.5%. Giving a larger opportunity for explaining to the Don’t Knows, than other options.
Q. What about defence?
A. Britain would still be a member of the NATO security alliance, and continue working with European allies.
Q. What does the opinion poll show for different regions of the UK?
A. Scotland: EFTA/EEA 68%, EU/EEA 32%
Wales: EFTA/EEA 59%, EU/EEA 41%
London: EFTA/EEA 63%, EU/EEA 37%
UK: EFTA/EEA 71%, EU/EEA 29%
All regions would prefer EFTA/EEA.
Q. Why would the UK use the ‘unilateral measures’ option to implement all the changes early?
A. Britain borrowed 100s of billions during the last government and printed billions of pounds, the country is in a financial mess.
Q. Is there a precedent for the UK simplifying it’s relationship with the EU, leaving EU structures with no problems?
A. Yes, in the early ‘90s, Britain left the European Exchange Rate mechanism – which was holding back the economy – within hours, and followed a policy which worked for the UK economy, and the economy prospered.
Q. What about if the population doesn’t rise?
A. In the 1980’s the population fell slightly and real wages rose by 2.9% above inflation. For example, if someone was earning £7.50/hour 10 years ago, they would now be on £10/hour, for the same job. Unfortunately, pay has hardly risen at all in real terms for a number of people.
Q. How will other EU countries react?
A. Most would respect the democratic choice of the British people. Though, since many UK politicians have practiced years of appeasement, there may be some EU politicians that feel a mistaken feeling of entitlement. The original EEA agreement was signed with 12 EEC countries and 7 EFTA countries, including Sweden, Finland and Austria, in addition to Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland, though the Swiss chose not be a part of the EEA in a referendum.
Q. How will other countries do, with less UK aid?
A. This is a positive opportunity for them. Aid has distorted the voting patterns and rewarded irresponsible voting and policies. The British people are not responsible for other countries voting for corrupt, incompetent and irresponsible politicians. The UK switching to EFTA, will help voters look for honest and competent politicians to vote for, a positive help.
These countries don’t need aid. There are many reasons why some countries prosper more than others, including: culture, philosophy, language, work ethic, law abiding, teamplayer, hiring and promoting on merit, integrity, paying taxes, self-motivation, flexibility, education, choosing/electing good leaders, free enterprise and choice instead of cartels and monopolies, government spending where needed and not to buy votes, government spending getting good quotes and getting value for money. Each country has a unique history, culture and evolution.
Q. Is there a mechanism for countries to join EFTA?
A. Yes, using article 56 of the EFTA Convention
Q. How would the EFTA countries feel about the UK and possibly more countries joining, e.g. Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands.
A. While many EFTA politicians are pro-EU, their public options are pro-EFTA. It is likely the EFTA politicians will take into account public opinion, as well as seeing more EFTA members as a help in shaping policies in Brussels and in global institutions. Especially as these possible newer countries do not look to take away self-government of other countries, or look for financial handouts to bail out irresponsible policies.
In summary the EFTA/EEA + Opt Outs is using an off-the-shelf upgrade, with Opt Outs already used by other countries, leading to simpler and faster implementation, that could benefit the UK economy, productivity and wage growth earlier than other options, helping ‘Undecided’ voters to choose ‘Leave the EU’.
Hugo van Randwyck, has been promoting the EFTA/EEA option as a winnable referendum option for over 10 years. He has also been organising ‘EFTA or EU’ opinion polls since 2010 and has written for a number of outlets including the Bruges Group. He has experience in implementation consulting, operations and marketing, in manufacturing, financial services, utilities, improving productivity, training, quality, sales and energy savings.
It was all happening on the news today! Firstly, Sir Stuart Rose, who heads up the “BSE” campaign organisation was spelling out what a huge risk it would be to withdraw from the single market. At the same time, Open Europe staged te first part of its “EU War games” event, simulating the “Brexit” discussions with the help of two former Prime Ministers and various ministers from overseas, trying to analyse the results of various scenarios including withdrawal.
Earlier this morning, Civitas released a report stating that the trade benefits of the Single Market have been “mis-sold”. All this was dutifully reported on BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme and one has to say that if those of us who follow politics keenly found it a bit tedious, the impact on the majority of listeners must have been at best confusion, at worse, outright boredom.
The debate about trade has been going round in circles for the simple reason that we, the “Leave” side, have not been able to coalesce around a single post-independence scenario. Therefore, any attempt to say that leaving the EU would increase or decrease our overall GDP by any given percentage or amount carries very little weight as there is no agreed “counterfactual”.
Today’s developments do, however, make it apparent that any post-independence scenario which does not preserve our acccess to the Single Market will cause problems for some sectors of business, problems which the BBC and pro-“remain” politicians will be keen to exploit for their own benefits.
The EEA/EFTA option does address their concerns, ensuring that “Brexit” would not be the “huge risk” that Sir Stuart Rose claimed, but this in turn means that the “no influence” myth regarding the EEA needs to be shattered. The BBC recently gave it yet another airing which included an interview with a Norwegian businessman who clearly had little idea of how EEA applicable legislation is created. Predictably, there was no discussion with anyone from Norway’s influential No2EU campaign.
Without a clear agreement on exit strategy among “leavers”, we are likely to suffer more of the same for months on end – barrages of meaningless statistics. It is vital to nail the economic and job arguments once and for all, for untl this is done, we cannot move the debate onbto a higher level – looking at the failings of the EU project as a whole and the appalling behaviour of many of our own politicians and civil servants. With trust in politicians at a very low ebb, there will be a ready audience for our arguments, but the crucial swing voters can only be won round if they can be assured that jobs and economic prosperity will not be threatened.