EU/EEA or EFTA/EEA + Opt Outs?

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 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
  • 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
  • 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:-

TEMP EFTA map with possible new membersv2-page-001

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.

How could the Leave campaign help voters in choosing to Leave he EU and switch to EFTA/EEA + Opt Outs? Below could be an idea for adding to leaflets and media:
TEMP Referendum leaflet-page-001

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.

Going round in circles

Photo by Karva Javi

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.

The critical path out of the EU

This latest briefing from Futurus analyses the critical path to leave the EU. It concentrates on two areas. These are, winning a referendum and organising an effective and beneficial departure.

These require a clear aim and a clear plan, taking account of existing legal agreements and political realities.

(We normally display these articles in full on the CIB website, but due to the length of this piece, it needs to be accessed as an attachment)



The Common Fisheries Policy part 7: FleXcit: Our fisheries’ future.

One cannot expect to cross examine Prime Minister David Cameron on the issues on which he intends to campaign to stay in the EU if the leavers can’t explain what will replace EU membership. Hence the reason for FleXcit, which contains a lengthy section on Fisheries – from page 267 to 280. Dr. Richard North and Owen Paterson MP had already produced a green paper on the subject of Fisheries and this has now been incorporated into FleXcit

Anyone who campaigns in the forthcoming EU referendum, for the “leave” side, cannot just say that Parliament must repeal the European Communities 1972 Act, and hope for the best. That is not good enough. There has to be an orderly and amicable separation, which is not going to be easy. After 43years of integration, it is going to be a major challenge. However, as far as fisheries are concerned, it is no good scrapping one régime in order to establish another equally bad system. Withdrawal presents us with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to show what can be achieved in an area that contains one of the finest marine resources in the world.

The North/Paterson green paper, now part of the overall Fisheries FleXcit plan, is excellent. It is the most exciting prospect for marine management, and for someone like myself who has worked on fishing vessels in many parts of the world, and has been heavily involved in conservation, I know the potential is staggering.

As far as the UK is concerned, the fundamental principle on which a policy should rest is that the fish and other sea creatures within the UK’s fishing zone of 200 mile/median line are the property of the nation as a whole. Custody of that resource lies with the central and devolved governments.

The first priority, therefore, is that control/competence is returned back to Britain. The overall Fishing Industry, while appearing as one, is made of several different groups, often opposing each other. The Industry is as divided now as it was in 1972 when the British Trawler Federation supported the “equal access” principle because they mistakenly thought they would gain access to Norwegian and Icelandic waters.

An inshore industry could be built around the 0 -12 mile limit, which would have a beneficial effect on coastal communities through tourism, recreational fishing, employment and other ancillary industries. All could be administered locally. The offshore Industry would be based on the 12 to 200 mile/median line, and then you have the straddling stocks and reciprocal arrangements, which brings genuine friendship between fishermen of different nations. When other nation’s vessels fish in our waters they would do so under our rules.

Devolved Fisheries Management Authorities (known as FMAs) could be set up. There would be two types: inshore (As far out as the 12 mile limit); and offshore (from 12 to 200 miles or up to the median line). Each would have a small executive board, responsible for policy-making, a consultative council and an executive arm responsible for administration. There would also be an agency, responsible for monitoring and carrying out enforcement action. Members would be appointed independently of the Secretary of State, and inshore boards would be appointed by the local authorities in the relevant maritime areas.

FleXcit’s fisheries proposals are based on the concept of “Days at Sea”. The advantage of this is that there is no reason to cheat. If you are a good fisherman, you will do well whereas a poor fisherman will not survive.

By contrast, the CFP is based on the political tool of quota – it has to be because of the integration process and equal access principle. It encourages cheating and dumping of non-quota catches either on shore or at sea. It is a rigid system trying to impose its will on a fluid and rapidly changing conditions.

Two essential features are needed for a viable fisheries policy. The first is the ability to be able rapidly to close areas down where juvenile fish are abundant. This has to be done within hours, even if the closure period may only last for a day or two. This ability to react quickly will never happen while our waters are under the control of Brussels control. The other important feature of any contemporary fisheries management is the use of selective gear, As a fishing gear designer I need to emphasise that the gear you design for one area is not the same for another area. Even if you are catching the same species, you need to make slight alterations to the gear. This level of adaption is impossible under the policy imposed by Brussels where one set of rules must fit the whole of a large area.

You must have fishermen on side to make this work, but again, under the North/Paterson proposals, this is far more likely than under the current EU- controlled regime. The attitude it has engendered is that if I don’t catch it, some other foreigner, even though it is another EU citizen, will get it, so I will get in first.
With selective gear, as long as the Minimum Landing Size (i.e., below which you are not allowed to sell) is above the breeding size, you can’t overfish, because you are culling the top of the pyramid. If there are no fish of that size, the fisherman will have no catch to sell, and will go out of business, but that is market forces at work, not overfishing.

Personally, I am strongly in favour of the model used by the Faeroe Islanders which operates in a diametrically opposite way to the EU system of setting for each species a total allowable catch on an annual basis, often based on dubious research. In my view it is no good working from the top of the pyramid downwards. Research should be directed at the base of the pyramid upwards; starting with the food source. Once you know the availability here, you can calculate what can be sustained at the top. If for example you have a collapse of the base, you have to fish the top hard, the very opposite to what would happen now.

To explain what I mean, this would be like a situation where a famine is taking place somewhere in the world and another million people are sent to that area to live there. If you don’t have the flexibility to enable fishermen to catch more adult fish, they will simply eat their young. This is exactly what happened in Norway when they destroyed their sand-eel stock. The adults took longer to grow and the fish that survived ate their young, destroying the next generation.. Sometimes one species will increase dramatically, and they have to be fished harder to restore the balance. You can only do this with a system as proposed under FleXcit, not the rigidity of Brussels.

Another area that is totally unfair is that fishermen have come under criminal law, which puts them on a par with drug dealers, thugs and thieves. This is not the way to get maximum co-operation out of those who harvest the sea, for which any successful fisheries régime requires maximum data being collected from the fishing industry. The best penalty for offences is to dock days at sea, and if the operator continues to offend, to take their fishing license away.

Leaving the EU per se is no solution in itself. It is only the beginning. Every badly-designed EU policy will require individual replacement with something better. And fisheries provided a useful example of exactly how a bad policy can be replaced by something better. Largely self-contained in policy terms, it makes an excellent test bed for policy development as well as illustrating the complexity of the repatriation process.

There is no question that it poses a challenge but at the same time the opportunity to do far better – to harvest nature’s gift free of political interference – cannot be ignored. Ranged against us are those who don’t want the Nation State, and those reformists who either don’t understand the workings of the EU, or else who have a hidden agenda. If they really believed in reform, they would want to get rid of the principle of equal access to a common resource without discrimination. However, such reform is impossible because of the thinking behind the EU Common fisheries policy, which is incapable of beneficial reform along the lines suggested here as it violates the very principles of integration enshrined in the EU treaties which it was designed to promote. Unfortunately, so-called reformists never acknowledge this harsh reality.

European Union: The rival plans

In order to have a clear understanding of what the EU referendum is about, here is noted the comparatives of David Cameron’s ‘British’ model proposals side-by-side with the Leave Alliance’s proposals for future UK-EU relations.EU The Rival Plans-page-001Whether or not David Cameron gets the other EU states to agree to any of his proposals, there is overwhelming advantage in the ‘Leave Alliance’ model which is entitled ‘Flexcit’. You can access the latest version of this document here.

This can briefly be described as an initial move to the position of Norway and Iceland with continued participation in the Single Market through membership of EFTA and the EEA. UK relationships with the EU institutions will change from voluntary subordination to a supranational set of institutions to a model of independent countries co-operating inter-governmentally. This is the model of all other countries in the world outside the EU.

Cam’s great sham will need some pretty wrapping paper

With December’s European Council meeting now behind us, the political world is now winding down for the Christmas break. What are we to make of the situation as 2015 draws to a close?

Firstly, things have moved on dramatically in the last year following the victory of the Conservative Party in May’s General Election. David Cameron’s commitment to hold an in/out (or rather, remain/leave) referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU has concentrated minds in the withdrawalist movement. The goal for which some of us have been striving for 40 years or longer could finally be within our grasp in the next two years.

Furthermore, the battle lines have already been drawn. We know what David Cameron is going to try to sell to the electorate. Forget all the discussions about opt-outs from closer political union and curbs on migrant benefits. There has not been and will not be any real renegotiations of any substance. Cameron has basically capitulated to the EU. “We need a British model of membership that works for Britain and for any other non-euro countries”, he said. What this really means, in the words of the former Environment Minister Owen Patterson is that “he is bumping around the back, towed along in the dinghy and this is all froth and bubble “

Associate membership – re-packaged as “The British Model” – will nonetheless be marketed by Mr Cameron as a major triumph – the result of “battling for Britain” in hard negotiation. Having downplayed expectations, Cameron will in reality be attempting to sell us a very shoddy deal – and not one for which he can even claim any credit. The original plans to turn discussion of a “two-speed Europe” into something concrete go back to a proposals by Andrew Duff, the arch federalist former Lib Dem MEP in 2006. It then moved up to consideration by the Bertelsmann-Spinelli group and the Five Presidents’ group. Carefully orchestrated press releases indicate that Mr Cameron has been going down this route for some months, with full support from leading figures in the Brussels establishment.

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EU Commission, stated to a meeting in Brussels on 18th November that the EU “is a family. Over time, one needs to give them (we the children!) the possibility to find their place on an orbit that better suits their sense of temperature. But Brexit will not happen”. Give Mr Juncker’s words, we can take it that the plan has been agreed. There is going to be a great deal of theatre. The script and choreography are mostly written already.

It will be Cam’s great sham. At the heart of this new arrangement, nothing of substance will have changed:-

  1. We will still be subject to the European Court of Justice
  2. Our ministers will still be overruled by qualified majority voting at the Council of Ministers
  3. Our Parliament will have to implement legislation with no power of unilateral veto.
  4. The European Commission will continue to churn out new laws and if the European Parliament and Council approve them, we will have to put them on the statute books.
  5. We will have an opt-out from the Euro, but this basically means relegation to the EU’s second division – indeed, Mr Duff has actually used the word “relegation” to describe his associate membership proposal.
  6. We will be still liable for any future eurozone bail-outs, even though outside the Single Currency
  7. We will still be tied in to Europol
  8. We will not be on the EU’s “top table” in spite of that being one of Mr Cameron’s stated objectives.

That Cameron is working hand-in-glove with the EU élite is more than apparent from his refusal to consider the far better alternative of the Norway Model – i.e., retaining our access to the Single Market from outside the EU by re-joining EFTA and thus availing ourselves of the European Economic Area agreement.

  1. Unlike the UK, which is represented by someone from the European Commission, Norway represents itself at the real “top tables” like the WTO and the United Nations Economic Committee for Europe (UNECE).
  2. It can refuse to put EU legislation onto its statute books – for instance, it refused to implement the Third Postal Directive, even though it was labelled “EEA Relevant”.
  3. If the Euro goes belly up, Norway will not be liable for its debts.
  4. EEA countries like Norway are widely consulted when EEA-relevant legislation is being framed and the lack of a final vote is not seen by most Norwegians as a problem.
  5. Liechtenstein, whose relationship to the EU is likewise via EEA/EFTA, used a clause in the EEA agreement to apply an “emergency brake” on immigration from the EU 20 years ago and the “emergency” is still in force!
  6.  Norway does not participate in Europol and the Eurpean military police (EUGENDFOR) will not have any rights to operate in the country.

In short, the “Norway Option”, while not an ideal long-term arrangement, would get us through the escape hatch and is far nearer to achieving Cameron’s stated objectives than his crummy “British Model.” One of his former constituents, Dave Phipps, who was the author of the now-defunct Witterings from Witney blog when he lived in the area, met with him and explained the obvious benefits of the Norway Model, but it has not made any difference. Unless Mr Cameron is a bear of exceedingly little brain or suffering from severe amnesia, one can only surmise that his mind is not open to any possibility of leaving the EU, in spite of his utterances that nothing is off the table. While Steve Baker, the MP for High Wycombe, claims that, “the only logical and consistent position the Prime Minister can take is to lead our country out of the European Union”, that just isn’t going to happen.

Mr Cameron may already have his “British Model” neatly under wraps, but there isn’t very much actually to wrap it in. The mainstream press is preoccupied with benefit restrictions on EU migrants and the opposition Cameron faced from Poland when he raised the subject of a four-year residency period, but this is a sideshow. The opt-out from “ever-closer union” is meaningless and recognition of the UK’s right to keep the pound is hardly a great concession. An agreement to cut red tape – in other words, addressing the lack of competitiveness within the EU – is hardly a big deal. True, Cameron complained in February 2014 that the Commission “is so obsessed with red tape that it believes that removing regulations which damage businesses is an act of self-harm”, but in reality, as new regulations are handed down from global standards-setting agencies, the EU does actually ditch obsolete regulations and will continue to do so.

Furthermore, the treaty changes which would be required to formalise a two-tier EU won’t be ready for signing until after the UK referendum, so all he can do is offer us a promise. Thinking back to his “cast iron” guarantee of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, this doesn’t really inspire any confidence.

Admittedly, opinion polling doesn’t inspire much confidence either, but last week’s YouGov poll, suggesting that perception of the success of Cameron’s supposed renegotiations hold the key to securing a “leave” vote is consistent with a number of other studies. If he can find some suitably pretty wrapping paper, selling the British Model as the middle way, the safe option that resolves our long-standing frustrations with Brussels, he may win. As it’s his only hope of winning, we can be assured that the spin machine will be revved up to full speed. Our task is not to be distracted by side issues like benefits for migrants. If we can show the public – and in particular, the undecided – that underneath the wrapping paper, Cam’s great sham is a non-solution meaning more Europe and even less say in how it is run, we can pull off a great victory.

On that note, a very Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year from all of us in the Campaign for an independent Britain. Let us hope that 2016 will be the year when the tide finally turns irrevocably in our direction