Cameron is using Norway to make the Leave campaigns look risky

By Jonathan Lindsell of Civitas

During last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions and again at the Northern Future Forum in Reykjavik, David Cameron attacked the Brexit model known as the ‘Norway option’. This involves leaving the EU but joining the European Economic Area, a trade grouping that currently hosts Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Cameron appears to be positioning himself firmly on the In side of the EU referendum without saying so explicitly. Not only this, but he is using his prominence as head of government to try to outmanoeuvre the main “Leave” players.

He argued that ‘Norway actually pays as much per head to the EU as we do. They actually take twice as many per head migrants as we do in this country but of course they have no seat at the table, no ability to negotiate.’ This is not wholly accurate: in a Norwegian situation Britain would pay about £1bn less each year, and a Civitas paper explores the ways Norway can affect EU legislation without having a formal vote.

Still, the Norwegian situation has its drawbacks, and Cameron declared he ‘would guard very strongly against [promoting it].’ Why has he done this?

The answer lies in the Leave side’s response. Vote Leave‘s campaign director Dominic Cummings said: ‘Vote Leave does not support the ‘Norway option’ for Britain. After we vote leave, we will negotiate a new UK-EU deal based on free trade and friendly cooperation. We will end the supremacy of EU law.’ The rival Leave campaign, Leave.eu, responded similarly, with co-chair Richard Tice remarking ‘Of course we can negotiate our own UK EU trade agreement.’ Ukip’s only MP, Douglas Carswell, wrote in The Express, ‘The PM’s not wrong about Norway’s relationship with the EU: she has got a duff deal from Brussels’.

At the moment it makes sense them to attack the Norway model, because Cameron is drawing attention to its flaws. But by ruling Norway out as their own preferred Brexit blueprint, these Leave leaders back themselves into a corner. The Norway option is the simplest way to leave the EU, retain access to the single market, gain control over our own trade policy, and evade some (not all) EU law.

The model is probably the safest Brexit option to push for, because it is closest to the current EU situation, and because it already exists, so all the kinks and questions are already worked out. By forcing the Leave campaign to deny they like Norway’s situation, Cameron forces them towards more radical, less tangible Brexit promises. These he can attack as unrealistic fantasies later in the campaign.

The theoretical deals Cummings, Carswell and Tice prefer simply do not exist at the moment. They may be attainable, they may be much better than Norway, but you cannot point to them and prove it. As the referendum approaches, the Remain campaign will be able to say that Brexit supporters are fantasists who have ruled out the only path that preserves the single market. What’s left? A Swiss model that currently includes unrestrained immigration,that has no free movement of services, and that took over a decade to negotiate. Beyond the Swiss model there are yet fuzzier allusions to comprehensive free trade deals . When all 27 remaining EU members will be able to veto a UK exit deal, it will be hard for Out campaigners to convince voters that hypothetical perfect deals could be delivered. After that you’re left with the World Trade Organisation option, with Britain facing tariffs, barriers and quotas on all its EU exports.

There are actually smaller groups that support permutations of the Norway option, including Futurus, the Bruges Group and ‘Flexcit’ supporters. They don’t see the Norwegian situation as a final destination, but argue it would be better to take the exit step to the European Economic Area (EEA) first, then use it as a stepping stone to negotiate a more comprehensive settlement.

The EEA is useful for this because it preserves most EU law and the single market in goods, services, labour and capital. It already works, is already in operation, so would be simple to join. This is very important because after formally telling the EU that Britain had decided to leave, the government would have only two years to negotiate an exit arrangement. Disengagement from the EU would be complicated and would need to be comprehensive – less ambitious deals I’ve studied have taken much longer than two years to finalise. Moving to the EEA would be simpler, its supporters argue, and easier to sell to the public as a sensible option.

Cameron’s tactic may then pay off. At the moment he looks foolish, having attacked an exit proposal that the prominent players do not actually want to defend. But further down the line, assuming Cameron fights for his renegotiated EU membership, he will be able to say that the “leavers” are gamblers, that they jettisoned the low-risk option in favour of big vague promises they cannot explain how they would deliver. And he’s sure to bring up this week’s denials if they try to U-turn.

Used with the author’s permission. For the original article, see https://twitter.com/JJLindsell or  http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jonathan-lindsell/david-cameron-eu-referendum_b_8433994.html/05.11.15.

Photo by liknes

Tory Tyranny

The Conservative Party HQ has written to local associations warning them not to step out of line on the EU referendum. Well aware that the predominantly pro-withdrawal Tory rank and file are not going to swallow Cameron’s renegotiation package, it has banned them from using any party resources on campaigning to leave:

“The Party Board has decided that Party resources, which includes any buildings, equipment, or finances, must not be available to either campaign or any third party participants in the campaign” says the letter. Association employees are only allowed to campaign “in their own spare time”, while “Staff who wish to get more fully involved in the campaign must request unpaid leave of absence”.

The draconian rules also state that anyone who expresses an opinion can’t do so as a Tory: “Individual members of the Party may of course take part in the forthcoming campaign on any side they wish, but they may only do so as individuals and must not suggest that they are representing the Party nor must they make use of any party resource to which they have access.”

There is also a ban on associations holding any public meetings to discuss the referendum. Any discussions must be done in private: “Associations may wish to hold meetings of members about the Referendum to which both sides of the argument should be put. They may not, however, hold public meetings.”

So Tory “Outers” are theoretically banned by “President Cameron” from talking about Europe in public meetings, banned from using their offices or office computers to campaign, and have to make clear at all times that they are speaking as individuals and never as Tories.

You can bet the email went down like a lead balloon in many Associations across the country last week! However, Cameron and his friends in Conservative Central office are not the Tory party, even if he currently has the  honour to lead it. How Peter Oborne can consider such a man to have the makings of a “truly great Prime Minister” is a mystery to anyone who has followed his behaviour in repsect to the referendum in recent weeks. With his combination of pig-ignorance and sheer wilful deceit, he risks leaving as a legacy a degree of loathing matched by that shown to only one other Conservative Prime Minister – Edward Heath.

If South Korea can do it, why can’t we?

THE PRESS OFFICE OF                                                           

The Lord Stoddart of Swindon (Independent Labour)  

News Release

3rd November 2015

Peer hammers Government for pro-EU bias and stay-in campaigners for belittling our country’s ability to stand on its own

During a debate on the European Union Referendum Bill in the House of Lords (02.11.15), the independent Labour Peer, Lord Stoddart of Swindon has pointed out the bias being exhibited by the Government in the debate about Britain’s future in the EU and strongly criticised fellow peers who regularly talk down Britain’s ability to cope as an independent sovereign nation.

Lord Stoddart said that it is impossible to obtain unbiased information from “…the Government because they are in fact biased. I say that because the Prime Minister has just been to Iceland where he made his position perfectly clear, which is that he wishes to remain in the EU. He believes that it is the best thing for Britain to do, so he has made his position absolutely clear. How can the Government be unbiased?

In a hard hitting speech, Lord Stoddart bluntly stated that “the British national interest cannot be served in the European Union. That is because the European Union is exactly what it says it is and what it wants to become. It has been made perfectly clear by unelected officials and indeed by elected people that they want further integration. However the Prime Minister tries, he will never be able to join a full Union unless he is prepared to agree to more integration.”

Lord Stoddart also expressed serious concerns about the habit those who support staying in the EU have of belittling our country and its ability to thrive as an independent nation. “The other thing that has worried me about this debate is the lack of confidence that so many people have in this country’s ability to negotiate with other countries and to stand on its own and build up its own businesses and exports. Why is it that other countries in the world can do it? Why can South Korea do it with a population of 25 million? Why cannot Britain, with a population of 65 million, negotiate successfully with other countries when smaller countries including Saudi Arabia and Iceland can? The Prime Minister of Iceland made it perfectly clear that it was doing very well outside the EU with a population of 350,000 and did not want to go into the EU any longer. Why have we lost confidence in ourselves?”

The full text of some of Lord Stoddart’s remarks during the debate are as follows. Click on this link for the full debate.

Referendum Bill – second reading

House of Lords – 2nd November 2015

Lord Stoddart of Swindon (Ind Lab): My Lords, I have been listening to this debate all afternoon and I find it very interesting indeed. I also realise that all the amendments are well meant, but I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, has hit the nail on the head. What she wants is unbiased information, and she believes that you cannot get it from the Government because they are in fact biased. I say that because the Prime Minister has just been to Iceland where he made his position perfectly clear, which is that he wishes to remain in the EU. He believes that it is the best thing for Britain to do, so he has made his position absolutely clear. How can the Government be unbiased? The noble Baroness said that we have civil servants and they will be unbiased. Civil servants are never unbiased; they take their lead from the boss, as in fact they should. Knowing that the Prime Minister has gone abroad and said that he believes that the United Kingdom should remain in the EU come what may will condition whatever is put into these reports. We should make no mistake about that.

2 Nov 2015 : Column 1450

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Would the noble Lord allow for the possibility that the Prime Minister might have reached the position he now holds because of his concept of the British national interest and his position as Prime Minister in trying to define that national interest?

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: Yes, I believe that the Prime Minister believes that, but the British national interest cannot be served in the European Union. That is because the European Union is exactly what it says it is and what it wants to become. It has been made perfectly clear by unelected officials and indeed by elected people that they want further integration. However the Prime Minister tries, he will never be able to join a full Union unless he is prepared to agree to more integration, and that of course will also mean joining the euro. Further integration must include the euro and anyone who wishes to be part of further integration will have to join it or else leave or become some sort of associate member. Those are the facts and we should not try to deny them.

6 pm

The other thing that has worried me about this debate is the lack of confidence that so many people have in this country’s ability to negotiate with other countries and to stand on its own and build up its own businesses and exports. Why is it that other countries in the world can do it? Why can South Korea do it with a population of 25 million? Why cannot Britain, with a population of 65 million, negotiate successfully with other countries when smaller countries including Saudi Arabia and Iceland can? The Prime Minister of Iceland made it perfectly clear that it was doing very well outside the EU with a population of 350,000 and did not want to go into the EU any longer. Why have we lost confidence in ourselves? Why is it that so many people say we have to be members of this great organisation to succeed?

The CBI’s foolish games

Towards the end of the 1990s, during drinks after at a debate at Bath on joining the euro, Mr Idris Francis, a long-standing supporter of withdrawal from the EU, asked Kate Barker, the CBI’s chief economist at the time, why she had not produced any calculations on the effects of joining the euro. She replied, in front of several others, that, “There are so many effects subject to such wide margins of error that it is impossible to know what the consequences of joining would be.” But he then asked her “But do you and the CBI want to join anyway?” to which she replied “Yes.”

Mr Francis quoted this exchange at several later meetings. At one Labour-organised meeting in Bournemouth, he was threatened with eviction by a senior figure in the Britain in Europe campaign. He also received a letter from Kate Barker, objecting to him quoting her words, but at the same time she confirmed what she had said.

Kate Barker must now be regretting her foolish support for the Euro. The CBI was thankfully dissuaded from supporting it as far back as 1999, thanks to the Business for Sterling campaign group. However, it has certainly not changed its policy of supporting our membership of the EU, come what may.

The Vote.Leave campaign recently gained access to the leaked minutes of the CBI’s president’s committee in July 2015, where former Chairman Sir Michael Rake told the meeting, “It is important not to overplay our hand in the negotiations with Brussels, like Greece, and that [the] CBI should be strong in making the case for competitiveness within Europe”. The meeting was attended by Lord Maude, Minister for Trade and Investment, as well as other government officials.

It should be noted that this is the same Sir Mike Rake, who was the deputy chairman of Barclays Bank, which was fined £284.4 million by the Financial Conduct Authority over “brazen” currency rigging.

It seems from his comments that no lessons have been learnt by the CBI in the years following its misjudgement on the Single Currency. Indeed, it is frightening to think that the CBI will almost certainly end up supporting another leap in the dark as untried and as doomed to failure as the Euro – namely UK associate membership of an EU. This will place the UK permanently in the EU’s powerless second division while the First Division  – the Eurozone members  – call all the shots.

It is so obviously a bad solution ot the UK’s “problems” with the EU, but it is almost certainly what  David Cameron will be offering us in the forthcoming referendum, aided and abetted, no doubt, by the CIB. It is sad indeed that an organisation claiming to be “the voice of business” dopes nothing more than play silly games.

Much ado about Norway

Last week, Norway and its relationship with the EU was the talk of the town. David Cameron spoke out against any idea of an independent UK using Norway as a model for a future relationship with the EU. Specially selected Norwegian ministers were quoted by the BBC and some daily newspapers saying how much they recommended the UK staying in the EU and what a raw deal they had from Brussels. Supporters of UK independence lined up to say that they did not support the so-called “Norway Option” – indeed, a round-robin e-mail from the Aroon Banks-fronted leave.eu was quite adamant. “We are not Norwegian” proclaimed the banner headline and if you scrolled down, the text body began “NO WAY TO THE NORWAY” just to make sure everyone got the point.

You may think that all this fuss was much ado about nothing. Does anyone actually recommend Norway and its access of the EEA via EFTA as a model for an independent EU?

The answer, confusingly, is both yes and no. Nobody who advocates the Norway Option regards it as anything other than a stepping stone to get us out of the EU and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice within the two-year period specified under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. It is not a final destination; rather a halfway house – an off-the-shelf, proven risk-free option that would get us through the exit door while allowing us the same full access to the Single Market which we currently enjoy as EU members. Its supporters, including some CIB Committee members, believe that it is the best way to reassure business, being unconvinced that the other options, like the so-called Swiss or WTO options offer a seamless transition to independence.

Virtually all informed advocates of independence, however, acknowledge that we could do better in the long term. The possibilities of a temporary brake on immigration from the EU allowed under the EEA agreement falls a long way short of the desire of many for an end to free movement of people. Furthermore, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are required to implement EU legislation marked “EEA-relevant” (although see below.) The percentage of the total acquis which comes into this category works out at barely 21%, according to Richard North (who contacted the EFTA Secretariat), far lower than the “approximately three-quarters” quoted in a 2012 Norwegian government report. However, 21% is still too many. Ideally, we do not want any laws forced upon us by a foreign power.

Yet for all its shortcomings, the “Norway Option” will see the UK on the road out of the EU and is still a far better deal than the associate membership status within the EU which David Cameron will seek to offer us at the end of his so-called renegotiations. As he will only ever make it sound a good deal by discounting this halfway house to full separation, he has had to resort to giving full rein to the various myths that have been doing the rounds. We must not fall for these lies. Associate membership status within the EU is a continuation of UK slavery to the EU Commission, the ECJ and its inevitable ever closer political union.

Here are a few home truths about the so-called “Norway Option”:-

1. It is not “government by fax” (a phrase which is rather long in the tooth – who uses faxes now?)

2. Norway and other EEA/EFTA countries take part in a very thorough consultation process on EU regulation at the early stages where it most matters, even if they don’t have a final vote.

3. Most trade regulation now is GLOBAL and since 1992 the EU has been LEGALLY BOUND to accept global standards. Our EU membership actually keeps us off the global regulatory bodies where Norway has a say and we don’t. These are the organisations which tell the EU what to do. Norway chairs the section of Codex Alimentarius which deals with fish and the EU has to do what that body decides.

4. Norway can also decide that a new Directive is unacceptable and simply decline to enforce it. It did so with the Third Postal Directive so Norway kept its publicly run Postal Service whilst our Royal Mail had to be privatised.- a possible selling point with Labour-inclined voters!

5. Norway is not jointly and severally liable for all the EU’s debts. If an EU country or goes bust, many of the debts arising from its membership of the EU fall upon the remaining members, but not Norway. If an EU country defaults, like Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, then some obligations for these debts will fall upon the UK, despite being outside the Eurozone. Norway will not pay a single Øre.

6. Norway is not subject to the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy, the Common Foreign Policy or many other pieces of EU legislation.

7. Norway is outside of the reach of the European Court of Justice, the EU’s supreme court. The ECJ cannot fine it for non-implementation of EU Law.

8. Norway’s annual contribution to help finance the single market and thus access it, amounts to a paltry £1.66 per year per head of population, a far cry from the £115 mistakenly claimed by Britain Stronger in Europe who, whether deliberately or accidentally, included the voluntary payments too. By comparison, we in the UK pay £150 per capita and the amount is rising.

9. The financial advantage Norway has enjoyed by remaining outside the European Union can best be illustrated by measuring the per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – in other words, the total value of goods and services produced by a country divided by the number of inhabitants, which provides a rough guide to average income in a given year. These two countries have much in common – similar climates, low population density, high state spending on welfare and strongly export-driven economies. Norway’s main export is oil, whereas Sweden’s is iron ore. The per capita GDP figures were broadly similar for the period 1980-1994, but from 1995 onwards, when Sweden joined the EU, the Norwegians started to become much richer than the Swedes. Indeed, by 2008, Norway’s per capita GDP, at US$ 94,815, was over 80% higher than Sweden’s at US$ 52,521. It is worth pointing out Norway was already a substantial exporter of oil in 1990, several years before Sweden joined the EU, and its oil production peaked in 2001, yet the per capita GDP differential with Sweden has continued to widen. It is hard to imagine that Sweden’s decision to join the EU while Norway stayed out has not been a factor.

In summary, the “Norway Option” isn’t a bad arrangement, if far from perfect. The bottom line is that Norway has retained independence outside the EU and flourished. It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that a recent YouGov poll showed that Norway is even more anti-EU than we are in the UK. Whereas this poll showed the UK evenly divided between staying and leaving, only 17% of Norwegians wished to join the EU, with a whopping 68% opposed (the remaining 15% were either unsure or said they would not vote if a referendum was to be offered)

So why do some vociferous Norwegian politicians tell us what a bad deal they have? The answer is simple. They personally want their country to join the EU – a pretty forlorn hope judging by that poll. They know only too well that Brexit would finally kill their ambitions. When the UK leaves, convinced that life is better on the outside, EU membership would disappear permanently from the agenda for Norway. If we could swallow Cameron’s “associate membership” fudge, maybe, so they think, Norway might be sneaked into the EU via this back door.

Therefore, whatever the pros and cons of the Norway Option as a viable exit strategy, Brexit is not only essential for our own country; it would also benefit Norway by removing an irritating distraction for them.

CIB answers ten questions from Open Europe

Last week, the Open Europe think tank posed ten questions to both the “remain” and “leave” camps. Here is the Campaign for an Independent Britain’s response to the ten questions for the “leave” movement:-

1) What is our preferred relationship for the UK outside the EU post-Brexit?

  • The only simple risk-free seamless route to independence is to retain EEA membership by re-joining EFTA – often known as the Norway Option. The Flexcit doucment, produced by Dr Richard North, Robert Oulds and others, offers fall-back shadow EEA options if the EU were to deny us access to the EEA. The EEA/EFTA route addresses the non-tariff barriers and other issues. It  would preserve our trade intact, including the important services sector.
  • However, EEA/EFTA is not an ideal medium- or long-term solution, but we have to have an off-the shelf seamless exit route to tide us over so we can work towards a looser trading arrangement and perhaps even a European continent-wide free trade deal. The EEA/EFTA option is proposed simply to get us through the period following independence.

2) Would leaving the EU actually boost UK trading opportunities? 

  • YES, Even Open Europe admits that the EU retains an outdated protectionist perspective which limits the UK’s access to global trading opportunities. One of our top priorities during the period when the independence arrangements are being negotiated is to ensure that, for the purposes of the free trade agreements and preferential trading arrangements with other countries signed by the EU, the UK is regarded as still party to these deals – in a sense, FOR THESE TRADE DEALS ONLY, treated as still part of the EU. Given that we run a trading surplus with many non-EU countries, there ought to be the will on both sides to make such an arrangement.
  • Looking further ahead, an independent UK is likely to be seeking free trade deals which include services well before the EU starts doing so. Furthermore, French protectionism is as much part and parcel of the EU as British Euroscepticism. We are therefore likely to strike better and quicker trade deals as an independent country than as part of a bloc where one of the most important members will always be dragging its feet.

3) What is our position about migration and EU free movement?  

  • Free Movement is a disaster in every way for standards of living in UK. It puts impossible strains on all infrastructure including the NHS, housing, police and terrorism prevention. However, we recognise that the EEA/EFTA escape route would only give us limited ability to restrict the free movement of EU nationals.
  •  The EEA/EFTA route does, however, allow us to apply an “emergency brake” on immigration. Liechtenstein has availed itself of this provision (under Articles 112(1), 113 and Protocol 15 of the EEA agreement) for many years, something which EU members are not able to do. In addition there are national limits that can be put into force by EEA members under Directive 2004/38 that does not apply to EU members post 2009 Lisbon.
  • In the longer term, when the EEA will hopefully be replaced with a Europe-wide free trade agreement which is just that – i.e., a trade agreement and nothing more. Once we move on from the EEA, the UK can and should implement a restrictive points system regime can be implemented without any external constraints. We can then escape totally from the EU principle of free movment, although the existing rights of people in the UK and UK citizens abroad would need to be honourably acknowledged in these negotiations.

4) The mechanism for leaving remains a liability and hands power to others 

Invoking Article 50, in conjunction with the EEA/EFTA route is not an invitation to the EU to walk all over us for two years. It is the Europhiles who should be worried about Article 50, for it does make clear is that if a country leaves, it would be a long process if that country has second thoughts and decides it wants to re-join. However, which prisoner, being offered the chance of release after 44 years in jail, would be upset on being told “once we let you out, it will be very hard for you to come back in there again”? The Bruges Group’s Robert Oulds, who is a member of the CIB Committee, wrote a concise rebuttal of Open Europe’s arguments, which are reproduced below:-

  • Article 50 does not preclude unilateral withdrawal. If after two years a withdrawing country does not want to conclude an agreement then it can just simply leave. But Article 50 is the only way the EU can be brought to the negotiating table, otherwise a post-EU withdrawal agreement will take time to achieve, from 5 to 10 years.
  • Article 50 can be initiated by an Act of Parliament or by Royal Prerogative, HM Government simply making the decision to withdraw by giving notification. Such notification cannot be cancelled, only delayed but that can only be done by unanimous agreement of the European Council.
  • Once the UK has submitted its notice to leave Britain will automatically withdraw unless those negotiations are extended. The European Council will have to unanimously agree to the extension, perhaps one or more of the UK’s less reliable ‘allies’ on the continent will wish for Britain to just go and will therefore not extend the discussions thus forcing the withdrawal to take place regardless of whether or not there had been a change of heart at home.
  • The provisions in Article 50 are there because the European Union wants to perceive itself as a voluntary union but also to make sure that it can negotiate a future post-EU relationship based mainly on trade.

5) The “Leave” campaign has come up with incorrect EU budget savings claims 

  • Unlike some other groups, CIB would not wish to put a precise figure on the savings to the economy on withdrawal. In a sense, the scaremongering about job losses and economic collapse has made our task easier. We now only have to prove that withdrawal will not lead to Armageddon to address such worries – and we are confident that this would be the case under the EEA/EFTA scenario. Richard North has calculated that the initial period following independence would be “economically neutral” and his reasoning is set out in Flexcit.
  • In the longer term, some savings are likely, especially given the prosperity of nations like Norway and Switzerland, but it would be inadvisable to offer a precise figure nor a timescale. We may or may not be required to honour our contributions of the EU’s current seven-year budget; there will be thousands of items of EU legislation which will need review and some could be scrapped and some modified. Those that ultimately originated from international standards-setting bodies like UNECE, the ILO or ISO – with the European Commission merely acting as a conduit – obviously will remain. With so many variables to consider, we would not wish to go further than this.

6) The “leave” campaign has quoted incorrect figure on the UK’s share of votes at the Council of Ministers 

  • The figure of 8.2% is now out of date as it does not reflect the new population-weighted voting rules introduced in November 2014. The latest figure of 12.6% is still barely one eighth of the overall vote. The UK can easily be outvoted  and, based on past experience, is likely to be in the future. Qualified Majority Voting is likely to be extended further as the project is driven by political integration upon which Germany and France and all other members are agreed.

7) How will UK influence be boosted outside the EU? 

  • We already sit on the UN security council. On leaving the EU, we would re-gain our seat on the real “top tables”. Open Europe dismisses the re-gaining of a seat at the WTO and international standard setting bodies as a fairly minor gain. However, it actually means that we will have a direct impact on the creation of rules for global trade instead of having the EU speak on our behalf. This is a far from inconsequential gain.
  • The UK has has no interest in the expansionist and federalist EU project. Because of our EU membership, we have been forced  to impose sanctions on Russia and have been drawn into a conflict in which we have no strategic interest. Free from the EU, we can adopt an independent policy on the Ukraine and would not be joining France and Germany in providing financial support for pro-EU political parties in the country.
  • The influence of the UK would as leader of EFTA would be much greater than as the most awkward of 28 member states in the EU. We would no longer be trying to pull in the opposite direction from our partners.

8) Dismissing the idea of reform means being stuck inside an unreformed EU 

  • The EU was, is and always will be a political project aiming to create a federal superstate as clearly set out in Lisbon and the aims of the Spinelli Group in its “Fundamental Laws of the EU”. These unalterable primary objectives are not going to be changed by Cameron’s “reforms”
  • Even the most superfically attractive of Cameron’s likely reform deal – the “Red card” system – does not go far enough. It may allow a majority of national parliaments to block EU legislation but still does not give UK elected representatives an absolute veto over EU legislation. The core of our argument is that the UK through the Queen in Parliament MUST be its own master in the UK.
  • Whatever Cameron’s reforms may profess to achieve, they will still leave the UK under the subjection of the European Court of Justice. In other words, both our democratically-elected Parliament and our Supreme Court will be overruled by a foreign body which, by its own admission, uses its power to promote political integration.

9) How does the idea of the primacy of UK law fit in with free trade?

  • We acknowldge that trade agreements are subject to international law. However, while we would be subject to international law in trade disputes, we would be free from the European Court of Justice.
  • Trade agreements comply with the rules and laws laid down by WTO organs. UK laws accept as part thereof the primacy of international law. Hence London is a much sought-after venue for international arbitrations.
  • In linking UK law with trade, Open Europe is being disingenuous. There are plenty of other areas of our country’s life where the primacy of UK law would be a reality and a benefit. We could produce better, less politically-correct legislation in areas as diverse as human rights and the operation of the services sector, For example, our insurance companies would not have the European Court of Justice telling them how to rate motor policies.
  • Furthermore, independence would ensure the preservation of those historic freedoms we have enjoyed under Common Law which are unknown on the Continent – Habeas Corpus, the requirement for a charge to be backed by prima facie evidence as opposed to hearsay and so on. We may be a long way from a common EU-wide legal code, but there is no doubt of its future shape. Plans for a European Public Prosecutor (EPP) go back to the 1990s as part of a proposal to address budgetary fraud in the European Union. Under this proposal, the EPP would operate under a European legal framework applicable in all member states. This legal framework, Corpus Juris, is built on the top-down inquisitorial Napoleonic principles which are in sharp contrast to our historic adversarial Common Law legal system. As the legal expert Torquil Dick-Erikson pointed out, Magna Carta crossed the oceans, but it never crossed the channel.

10) Open Europe claims that changes in the EU provide opportunities as well as risks 

  • The UK has no opportunities in the EU, only the burdens of serfdom. The EU is heading for economic disaster until it reverses the failed single currency experiment or abandons its desire for fiscal union across the Eurozone.
  • Furthermore, there will be no opportunities becase there will be no real reform of the EU’s agenda. Instead, countries outside the Eurozone will most likely be offered associate membership, most likely under some other name. This will include an acknowledgement that the UK may keep the pound. However, with the Eurozone moving to ever-closer integration and more countries likely to join the Single Currency, it will be a formalisation of second-class status and relegation to the margins.  A hopelessly bleak, unappealing and weak position for the UK
  • Any alleged opportunities within the EU fall short of the opportunities outside. Instead of being a second-class member state, we can rejoin the rest of the world – gaining promotion to the premier league of  first-class independent, sovereign countries.