The Britain Stronger in Europe (BSE) campaign was very quick off the mark this morning, responding to last night’s announcement by Leave.EU Head of Communications, Andy Wigmore, that the Arron Banks funded “leave” campaign will be working with Dr Richard North—the foremost authority on EU affairs in the eurosceptic community—and adopting a North-inspired Brexit plan called “The Market Solution” or “TMS”, for short.
The cherry-picked quotes from Dr Richard North and Robert Ould’s Flexcit plan featured in the ‘Notes for Editors’ portion of the BSE press release—all highly creditable and I for one welcome the additional publicity—do rather call into question the legitimacy of the group’s repeated assertions that the “leave” campaign “don’t have a clue what ‘Out’ looks like”.
If, on the other hand, the BSE group were only made aware of the existence of a credible EU exit plan when the EUReferendum.com and Leave.EU collaboration was announced, and simply scanned the Flexcit plan for suitable quotes overnight, then that tells its own story too.
Turning to the press release itself, the content is interesting only in so far as it lacks any originality or credible critique. The BSE group’s decision to label “The Market Solution” as the “Still Pay, No Say” model is absurd. The EFTA/EEA members have a consultative role in the formation of Single Market directives and a national veto. Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein also have independent representation on the intergovernmental bodies—above the sub-regional EU—where international standards, which, as a signatory to the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, the EU is obliged to accept, are negotiated and agreed.
There is no conceivable way in which EFTA/EEA states could be legitimately described as having “no say” in the Single Market or in terms of the regional and global regulation that makes up an increasingly large proportion of the EEA acquis. Indeed, Britain’s role in setting global standards for trade would be greater outside the EU than it is inside the EU. To that end, it is worth remembering that no less an authority than the Prime Minister, David Cameron, says that: “Our participation in the Single Market, and our ability to help set its rules is the principal reason for our membership of the EU.”
The “no say” point is doubly rich coming from a group that is campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU. It is the overlay of supranational political and judicial institutions—above the nation-state—that limits the say that people in this country have over how and by whom Britain is governed.
Putting the point about whether EU membership does “enhance Britain’s influence” to one side—I think it is a highly debatable assertion, but just parking that for the moment—it is not credible for the “remainers” to argue that Britain’s EU membership gives the country more “clout” on the global stage, but to then deny that Britain’s EU membership has any meaningful impact upon British policy-making or national governance.
It is incoherent and evidently false to say that EU Member States have more power and influence than independent countries, yet, at the same time, argue that Britain has the same freedom of action and flexibility in terms of national policy-making as the 165 UN Member States that do not accept that their national governance should be subordinate to supranational institutions.
The announcement of this collaboration between EUReferendum.com and Leave.EU could spell the start of something really important, a shift away from Mr Cameron’s increasingly tedious “renegotiation” theatre and the scripted outcome that is already being widely anticipated and reported, towards a genuine discussion about Britain’s future role in the world and life outside the EU, as citizens of a confident, independent, self-governing country, with full representation globally and more democratic responsibility and accountability for national politicians and policy-makers domestically.