Dominic Cummings was on Twitter yesterday, proudly flaunting his arrogance and his ignorance for all comers, declaring that:
“2/ The ‘Norway option’ is not @VoteLeave’s policy nor will it be because a) we can do much better than that & b) we plan to win referendum”
“3/ Making ‘Norway option’ official policy wd be like placing whole fate of campaign on one suboptimal fixed fortification = v bad strategy”
What is often referred to, for the sake of shorthand more than anything, as “the Norway Option” is not in fact “a fixed position”, but an interim solution to the problem of agreeing suitable trading arrangements with the EU during the brief two-year window of an Article 50 exit negotiation. For a man who claims to have read Flexcit to come to such a facile conclusion demonstrates that either he was not being honest or he failed to understand it. Flexcit also details several, equally credible, fallback positions that would ensure British trade is not disrupted.
The other enormous benefit of what I will call “the Norway Option” is that it neutralises all of the europhile fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) regarding access to the Single Market and provides necessary assurance to voters that the country’s economic well being will be protected even as we disengage from the political structures of the European Union. The only people losing their jobs in the event of a Brexit scenario that adopts the Flexcit plan would be British eurocrats and euro politicians like the increasingly desperate and flailing Dan Hannan, who has repeatedly stated that he supports what Cummings calls Cameron’s associate membership “con” (congratulations for catching up) even as he continues to claim that he is committed to the “leave” side of the referendum debate. It is all too evident from Hannan’s recent public statements—not to mention his overly sensitive response to any kind of challenge—that he is a Whinger rather than a Leaver. Fortunately for us, he is also yesterday’s man, a sinking ship.
Not that Hannan is the only example of Cummings and the ‘Vote Leave, Get Reform’ campaign failing to deliver a clear and coherent message. On Friday, the ‘Vote Leave, Get Reboot’ newsletter deigned to inform us that “arguments concerning regulation are more complex than the media suggests”—thanks for catching up—and that many EU regulations “actually come from global bodies”. However, only the day before, the “leader” of ‘Conservatives for Britain’—a ‘Vote Leave, Get What You’re Told’ affiliate—was saying the opposite. If prominent spokesmen like Dan Hannan and Lord Lawson are not on message and are instead allowed to trot out the same old Tory Party garbage that has littered the EU debate for 20+ years, where exactly is the organisation and co-ordination of the ‘Vote Leave, Get Reform’ campaign supposed to be coming from? If the “campaign manager”, that is Cummings, is not managing the campaign then how else does he spend his time?
Regrettable as it may be and unwelcome as this message will be to some, the evidence to date suggests that ‘Vote Leave, Get Control’ does not have what it takes to win the EU referendum campaign for the “leave” side. Indeed, the evidence suggests that the opposite is true. I am not saying that Elliott and Cummings are controlled opposition, but their efforts are what controlled opposition would look like. If we are really serious about wanting to leave the EU, then we are going to have to look beyond these two Tory patsies.
We need people who will confront and defeat the lies of the “remains”, not run away at the first sign of conflict. The Invisible Man and The Man Without A Plan are not going to get the job done. In contrast, the lead author of the Flexcit plan, Dr Richard North, has the knowledge and experience to mount an effective campaign and secure the permanent EU exit all Brexiteers seek. As ever, if you want to leave the EU and you’ve got what it takes, make yourself known.