What Next For The Labour Party?

And when Jeremy Corbyn storms to re-election as Labour leader, what then?

Ben Kelly despairs:

To see just how low the Labour Party has sunk don’t look at Jeremy Corbyn, look at the usurper the rebels have chosen; Owen Smith. Is that really the best they have to offer? He is a total non-entity with no personal charm whatsoever. His combination of smarm and Corbyn-lite policy ideas are sure to repel the electorate and offer no hope for redemption for his wretched party. His ambition vastly outsizes his talent and the fact his pitch has been an attempt to attract Corbyn supporters exposes him as not just weak, but utterly pointless.

If Owen Smith miraculously manages to win the leadership race is he really going to bring salvation for the Blairites? He asserts that he is the only person who can unite the Labour Party but it is clear that he hasn’t the courage or the political intelligence to confront the Corbynite activist base, nor has he got the full blooded support of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

The harsh truth is that those figures in the Labour Party who really want to be leader have opportunistically ducked out of this race because they don’t want to enter a leadership race they will probably lose. They are too cowardly to take on the Momentum crowd and want to bid for the leadership when they can cruise into the position in some fantasy future when the Corbnyites realise the error of their ways.

Before Corybn Labour were already losing voters and it was mainly due to welfarism and immigration. Owen Smith is in no better position to win back the voters that have abandoned his party because of these issues than Corbyn. To that you can also add his Europhilia and his commitment to push for a second referendum in a blatant attempt to prevent Brexit. Ideologically his is little more attractive to the electorate and personally? This creep isn’t going to be embraced by the British people anytime soon.

The spending commitments in his cringeworthy, amateur hour, 20 policy pledges is quite enough to repel the wider electorate. The 28% that Corbyn’s hapless Labour Party is polling at the moment is clearly an over estimation, and the idea that Owen Smith is the man to reverse this dire situation is laughable.

The fact that even the man trying to oust Corybn thinks Britain wants socialism of any kind, even after Milibandism was comprehensively rejected in 2015, is a clear indication that Labour is in very serious trouble. It will either split or leap head first into electoral oblivion from which it will likely never recover.

Pete North is similarly unenthused:

Well, at least Corbyn is powering a thriving socialist folk song revival.

This blog’s assessment, however, remains unchanged:

If Jeremy Corbyn remains as leader and takes Labour to an historic defeat in the 2020 general election, the party will be out of power for nine more years at most. But if the centrists, acting in a fit of pique at finding themselves out of favour and influence for once, decide to split the party then it will be ruined and broken forever. The time horizon in the minds of the centrist rebels conveniently gels with the likely length of their own political careers. When centrist Labour MPs earnestly declare that the future of the Labour Party is at stake, what they really mean is that their own parliamentary careers are at stake. The Labour Party has survived bad leaders before. What it cannot survive is the treachery and self-serving behaviour of the majority of its own parliamentary caucus.

If Labour’s centrists are serious about regaining control of their party and influence within in, there is only one course of action. And it involves sitting down, shutting up and letting Corbyn drive Labour off a cliff at the 2020 general election. Anything less than their full-throated support (or at least their tacit acceptance of his rule) will see bitter Corbynites attempt to pin the blame for their defeat on lack of enthusiasm (or indeed sabotage) within the parliamentary party. If Corbyn is to be deposed and Corbynism rejected once and for all, he and McDonnell must be given a clear shot at the general election and allowed to fail on their own.

“But people can’t take nine more years of Tory rule”, sanctimonious centre-leftists wail, indulging in their favourite pastime of painting themselves as the sole Defenders of the Poor. This would be a marginally more convincing if there was actually a radical, Thatcherite conservative government in office rather than the Cameron/May Tories who preach statist, paternalistic big government solutions to every problem – effectively Tony Blair’s missing fourth term.

It would be more convincing if there was more than a cigarette paper’s difference between centrist Labour and the leftist Toryism practised by a party which has more to say about “social justice” than liberty and freedom. But since there is so little difference, it doesn’t really matter whether Labour are in power or not – so they may as well take this decade to get their house in order and decide exactly what kind of party they want to be.

And if, at the end of that process of sober reflection, the decision remains that the party would be better off splitting into a hard left contingent and a centrist contingent for the professional political class then so be it. But this is a grave and permanent decision indeed, of sufficient magnitude that it ought to be determined by something more than the frustrated career aspirations of a few restless centrist Labour backbenchers.

Advice that will doubtless be ignored as this failed generation of exceptionally unexceptional Labour centrist MPs howl, rage and bring the Labour Party crashing down upon their heads, beside themselves with self-entitled rage at being out of power and influence for even a few short years.

 

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George Osborne Must Resign, Now

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Worse than useless

Ben Kelly of The Sceptic Isle makes a devastating case for George Osborne’s immediate dismissal from the Treasury:

During the campaign Osborne forgot his responsibilities as Chancellor and showed himself willing to damage the economy by deliberately fomenting uncertainty and prophesising catastrophe. This has aggravated the economic fallout in the aftermath. He wasted £9million of taxpayer’s money on pro-EU leaflets and converted the Treasury into a partisan propaganda machine. He pressed public officials to publish dodgy dossiers predicting economic doom if we left the EU. This can only have increased the cynicism that the public feel towards politicians and damaged the reputation of the Treasury.

For the entire first weekend after the referendum, with the markets panicking, George Osborne apparently went into hiding. We needed him to offer reassurance and some indication that the Treasury was prepared. When Osborne finally appeared he made it “very clear” that the country would be poorer following the people’s decision to leave the EU. In an interview with Nick Robinson on the Today programme, he repeated his pre-referendum threat of a tax increases and spending cuts. Instead of offering reassurance he is making the situation worse and rather than revealing contingency plans he has petulantly insisted that “it was not the responsibility of those who wanted to remain in the EU to explain what plan we would follow if we voted to quit the EU.” This is the second most powerful man in our government abdicating responsibility.

With that, it became abundantly clear that he could no longer perform his role as Chancellor and was incapable of restoring economic confidence. With this man in charge project fear will be a self-fulfilling prophesy.

We now know that Wolfgang Schäuble issued his warning that we couldn’t participate in the Single Market if we left the EU at the behest of George Osborne. I have no doubt that in time we will find out that the Chancellor spent the months before the referendum making many calls and pulling in favours in order to boost his fear mongering campaign. Just think about that! A British Chancellor appealing for authoritative institutions and economists to warn that the British economy was weak and risked collapse outside the EU. Has there ever been a Chancellor so aggressive in his desire to run his own country down?

Remainers now point to our current economic turmoil as proof that they were right all along, but it was always inevitable that a political decision of this magnitude, with such huge potential for change, was going to cause economic uncertainty and short term pain. Now we need people in government to restore confidence and map out the future. The Chancellor who has been actively sabotaging our economy is the wrong man for the job. There should be no place for him in government.

Osborne took a huge gamble with a scorched Earth policy, he lost; and we are now suffering the consequences. Now he must go. It is too late to do the honourable thing now, but he can at least finally do the right thing and signal his intent to leave office when the next Conservative leader is elected.

I am very sympathetic to Kelly’s argument. It would be one thing if George Osborne had graciously accepted the result of the referendum and then immediately and publicly got to work ensuring that Britain’s sails were perfectly trimmed as we sailed into the short-term storm of post-Brexit hysteria. It would definitely have been positive if Osborne had pulled a secret Brexit plan from his back pocket and set the Treasury to implementing it.

But Osborne did none of these things. The submarine chancellor did as he always does – disappear for days on end while others take the flak, appearing before television cameras only when it absolutely cannot be avoided (such as at Treasury Questions in Parliament).

And while it was inevitable that there would be market turbulence following geopolitical news of the magnitude of Brexit, it is hard to deny that Osborne almost certainly exacerbated this fallout – the steepness of the fall in the pound, the stock market fluctuations, the delayed investment decisions by firms – by endlessly catastrophising Brexit in his failed bid to win the referendum for the Remain side. Of course this was a difficult line for a Remain-supporting chancellor to take, wanting to make his case but careful not to “talk down Britain” at any point. A true statesman would have successfully trodden this fine line. George Osborne stepped way over it.

But most damning of all is the way that Osborne helped to furtively arrange for senior foreign voices – politicians, NGO heads and others – to make their own interventions in our national EU referendum debate, actively putting words in their mouths. In many cases these words turned out to be unduly harsh and threatening words, representing the chancellor’s own bluster more than the sincere and considered opinion of the speaker concerned – which is why we are now seeing partial recantations from the likes of Wolfgang Schäuble.

As the EU referendum campaign drew to its hysterical, bad tempered climax, this blog openly wondered what T-word best describes a senior serving politician who deliberately seeks the help of foreign leaders, business moguls and NGO heads to bully and threaten his own people into making a certain decision.

I do not regret floating the T-word for a single second. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne debased and demeaned himself and his high office. He came down hard on the wrong side of the most profound and existentially important question to face Britain since 1945, and made almost zero preparation for the eventuality of a “Leave” vote in the referendum. By his words and actions he sullied both the tone of the EU referendum campaign and contributed toward the subsequent instability.

As Ben Kelly says, the time for George Osborne to do the honourable thing has long since passed. But this failed chancellor – who proved himself unable to deal with Britain’s deficit and unable to plan strategically in the event of a Leave vote – must now do the right thing and quit the British political scene at the earliest responsible opportunity.

 

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Every American Should Support Brexit

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Finally, the democratic case  for Brexit is explained to Americans

With many leading American voices so illogically hostile to Brexit, it is great that one of our own – Ben Kelly of The Sceptic Isle and the Leave Alliancehas seen his concise democratic argument for Brexit published in the New York Times.

Kelly patiently lays out the case for Brexit to an audience which has regrettably proved more likely to skip the democratic question entirely and wrongly view leaving the EU as an illogical, regressive act:

There are worrying levels of resentment in British society. People have little faith in their ability to bring about change through who they vote for and this breeds apathy and represents a grave threat to participatory democracy. And, no, not all of that can be blamed on the E.U., but we have now lost too many policy making powers and essential democratic safeguards. The E.U. maintain exclusive control of our trade policy, fishing and agricultural regulations, and is rapidly gaining power over British policies for foreign affairs, energy, environment, transport and telecommunications.

The E.U. is a supranational government with an executive body in the unelected European Commission, a legislature in the European Parliament and the Council of the E.U., and a powerful judiciary in the European Court of Justice. The “invisible hand” of its power operates through the husks of British political institutions: Our Ministers, MPs and councillors are constrained and must work within imposed parameters that are not conducive to new ideas and innovation. The E.U. hinders effective governance and disempowers and disconnects elected officials from the people who elected them.

When power is so far removed from the people, anger and disillusionment are inevitable. And democracies die when there is little connection between the electorate and those who rule them. Now, there is a pressing need to shift the balance of power back to the people and restore democratic accountability. It is the only hope for rebuilding faith in politics and quelling our current state of discontentment.

Restoring self-governance could inspire British society with a renewed sense of identity, vigor and pride. It means the construction of a new nation and a reversal of the degradation of our political culture. None of this can happen automatically and Brexit is not a silver bullet. But it unlocks the potential for change, and Britain should rise to the occasion.

It should not be necessary to explain these things to Americans, particularly those in the establishment most likely to want Britain to stay in the EU. These people, possessed of a solid understanding of their own nation’s history, should be our natural allies in wanting to free Britain from an increasingly powerful, antidemocratic and unrepresentative supranational government.

The rebellious American colonists because known for the phrase “no taxation without representation”. The EU has not yet – quite – reached the point of directly taxing its citizens, though the day may not be far off. But the phrase “no regulation without representation” applies very well to the Brexit cause. In an age of globalisation, when regulatory harmonisation is important to promote further economic growth, it is more important than ever that the people have an input into the process of making global regulations – particularly when that process has the power to wipe out entire industries at the stroke of a pen.

An independent nation state can wield its “right of reservation” as a last resort, exempting itself from new regulation which it deems particularly harmful to the national interest. A member state of the EU, like Britain, has no such power. The EU has exclusive competency on matters relating to trade, and we must swallow whatever the European Commission agrees on our behalf.

Those roles and institutions within the EU which are directly elected are nothing more than democratic fig leaves. The European Parliament is a toothless rubber-stamping institution which cannot propose new legislation or strike down old. And those who claim that the Council of Ministers or European Council allow national interests to be exerted forget that governing elites from the 28 member states often have far more in common with each other than they do with the ordinary people they represent, and will always face the tendency to do what is best for themselves and the European Union which they serve rather than what is best for the people who put them in office.

In every single way, the European Union as it currently stands should be offensive to the American national psyche. That it is widely popular among American opinion-formers reflects a failure on the part of Brexiteers to do a better job co-opting an important international ally. But more than that it represents a failure of the American elites, who having lost faith and confidence in their own country expect that we should do the same with ours.

 

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Dynamite Poll Shows Overwhelming Support For Interim EEA Brexit Option

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An explosive new poll has showed overwhelming support for a staged EFTA/EEA (Norway Option) Brexit approach in the event of a Leave vote in the EU referendum, extricating us from political union while maintaining the all-important short term economic stability. All serious Brexiteers must now coalesce around this plan

The Brexit blogosphere is reporting early warning of a new dynamite poll – far more interesting, I think, than the Independent poll showing Leave implausibly ahead by 10 points – which shows significant public support for Britain leaving the EU via a staged process maintaining access to the EEA (single market) in the same way as Norway.

The poll was commissioned by the Adam Smith Institute, who helped to shift the debate onto this ground by adopting the “Flexcit” plan developed by Dr. Richard North and readers of the eureferendum.com blog, promoting it in an essay “The Liberal Case For Leave” (authored by Roland Smith).

The purpose of the poll is quite clear – to show  that these is an as yet unmet public appetite for a staged approach to Brexit which extricates Britain from undemocratic and unwanted political union while also minimising risk.

As Tony Edwards of The Brexit Door blog reminds us:

Norway’s position is that it is in EFTA, and is a participant in the single market via the EEA agreement. It retains freedom of movement for workers, and enacts single market law (not all EU law, but about 25% of the total number of legislative measures in the EU acquis). It is not subject to the ECJ, or party to the CAP/CFP policies. It does not apply the common EU position on global bodies, it has sole competence for trade negotiations (despite making joint agreements with EFTA partners), and is not subject Justice of Home Affairs policies or collective foreign policy.

It has been the view of Flexcit advocates and The Leave Alliance that this is not only by far the most attractive approach in terms of allaying public fears and winning the referendum (without which any other differences between Brexiteers are rather academic), but that it is also the most practical and responsible way to extricate Britain from a complex political union at a minimum of risk. This poll would now seem to strongly vindicate that belief.

The key question posed by the poll was the following:

And thinking just about the shorter term, the five or ten years immediately following Britain leaving the EU, would you support or oppose Britain having a relationship like Norway has, allowing citizens of other EU countries to live and work in Britain in exchange for keeping full access to the single market?

And the headline results are overwhelmingly in favour of just such an approach:

ASI poll - EU Referendum - Adam Smith Institute - Chart

ASI poll - EU Referendum - Adam Smith Institute - Headline Results

This shows overall support for the interim EFTA/EEA (Norway) Option of 54 percent, against just 25 percent opposed, with 21 percent unsure. And among those currently intending to vote Remain, 79 percent are in favour of such a staged Brexit approach, while only 5 percent are opposed.

Ben Kelly of The Sceptic Isle blog breaks it down:

The YouGov poll, commissioned by the Adam Smith Institute, shows that British voters would overwhelmingly support the “Norway option” in the event of a vote to leave. Support for this arrangement outweighs opposition by two-to-one. This poll destroys the arguments of extremist Brexiteers and those stubborn remainers who believe a market based solution would be unacceptable to the public.

And:

Reality is sinking in; if there is a vote to leave we will commence leaving political and judicial union but remain in the Single Market.

This is the one subject on which extremist Brexiteers and ardent remainers have agreed on. Both have made exactly the same dubious counter argument; that if the British government were to remain in the Single Market it would be un-democratic and the public would simply not accept it. They have long maintained that a “leave the European Union” vote must also mean leaving the Single Market. Both have regrettably attempted to frame this referendum as a vote on immigration which it clearly is not. Both make ridiculous assertions that the public will “revolt” against a market based solution.

We have said for some time that this was nonsense; that the economy is the number one concern and the public would support an economically safe exit. Now we have the data to prove it.

Since the Norway Option (and the incredibly thorough and detailed Brexit plan resting behind it) have become more prominent in the national debate, its opponents – Remainers and a stubborn but vocal subset of Brexiteers – have been doing everything in their power to mock, discredit and otherwise slander the plan.

The Remainers’ motivation is obvious – if it can be shown that Britain can leave the unloved political union of the EU while maintaining full access to the single market, nearly all of their apocalyptic fearmongering arguments about economic ruin are immediately blown apart, leaving the Remain campaign entirely without a case.

(Even now, some Remainers are attempting to cause mischief and cast doubt on the interim EFTA/EEA route wherever they can – because Britain’s continued participation in the single market is the Achilles heel of their case for Britain to stay locked in political union.)

The Norway Option’s opponents among Brexiteers tend to be the ignorant (including those who do not understand that it is an interim step designed to ensure economic stability while 40 years of political union are unpicked) and those who want to campaign on a platform of vastly slashing immigration and doing it yesterday, even if it means losing the referendum because moderate voters recoil.

However, this new poll suggests that the interim EFTA/EEA approach to Brexit is an idea whose time has come. With so much garbage being spewed by the official campaigns on both sides of the debate, more and more people are turning in desperation to alternative news sources and alternative scenarios not being discussed by Boris Johnson or the establishment pin-ups of the Remain campaign.

With less than two weeks to go until Referendum Day, we are finally arriving at a consensus – and we have done so despite, rather than because of the official Vote Leave campaign which has been barking about immigration and the NHS to the extent that people are tuning it out.

There is a hunger out there for somebody to present a more grown-up plan for Brexit, one which acknowledges political realities and constraints that even low-information voters perceive to exist. And now we have that plan. What’s more, as the ASI/YouGov poll shows, when the outline of the plan is explained to voters they respond very favourably.

This poll is dynamite. It shows that the scaremongering, falsehoods and outright dismissals poured on the Norway Option by Remainers and short-sighted Brexiteers have had no effect. It shows that a majority of Britons are sensible enough to realise that undoing 40 years’ worth of political integration with the EU may not be advisable to attempt in one short sharp burst, and that a plan which gets us out of the political union (and free from any future attempts at further integration) while maintaining economic stability – the top issue for voters – is potentially very popular.

The only ones who now do not accept this are the blinkered leaders of the official Leave campaign. But the EFTA/EEA route has momentum now – it will not go away just because its existence is inconvenient for Boris Johnson or the other big names of Vote Leave.

At last, Britain is starting to coalesce around a politically viable (and physically deliberable) Brexit plan. The single

This is no time for triumphalism, as Tony Edwards warns (his emphasis):

For those who have seen the polls of the last week and think that Leave has this referendum in the bag, I suggest a moment of reflection. Even if they are correct, there is every chance that the government will be able to scare people in the coming days, that there will be a resurgence for Remain. Polls are never the whole story.

But polls can help to suggest to us in broad strokes what we think the public will accept, and we should begin by offering that option to them, explicitly and clearly, before the Referendum. When the margins are as large as the ones that You Gov have reported in this particular survey, I think it is safe to say that the Staged Brexit approach via EEA/EFTA, is the only option that is likely to receive sufficient support in the country and in Parliament to be able to bring together the opposing sides if we vote to leave.

But with many moderates still undecided as to how they vote, there are clearly a significant number of Britons who may be very receptive to this new information. And hopefully the Adam Smith Institute / YouGov poll will inspire more influential pro-Brexit voices to begin making that pitch to voters.

We could yet win this thing.

 

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Flexcit And The Interim EFTA/EEA Brexit Approach Reported On Newsnight

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Having finally analysed every possible facile, gossipy and shallow angle on the EU referendum in breathtaking detail, finally the media get round to examining the ideas laid out long ago in the only existing comprehensive Brexit plan

Well, it had to happen eventually. Tired of adjudicating shrill and pointless contests in unsupported assertions and lying by omission from Vote Leave and Britain Stronger in Europe, some in the media have finally started paying attention to the safe, stable Brexit option which was there all along.

Tony Edwards of The Brexit Door blog marks the occasion:

The Liberal Case for Leave, written by Roland Smith for the Adam Smith Institute, is based on the Flexcit plan. Roland is one of a number of us who have coalesced around this idea, proposed by Flexcit author Dr Richard North of the EU Referendum Blog, that Brexit should be a multi stage project. To avoid shocks, and to escape diplomatic impasse, we must take each stage in a safe and ordered manner. This not only avoids economic pitfalls, but reassures the people that will not vote to leave the EU, or would like to but are risk averse, that they are not being forced into some great leap of faith, that there is a sensible route to full democratic freedom.

And now, in the last week, Flexcit as a plan has finally broken cover and its first stage is being discussed openly by members of Parliament, Talk radio, the BBC, the Telegraph and today the rest of the print media  (although sometimes not by name).

Tony goes on to point out an important point which is overlooked by many detractors on the Brexit side – that the EEA/EFTA arrangement is transitional, the departure lounge from the EU rather than the ultimate destination:

What is not always being heard in the public domain, and what Roland Smith explained last night, is that the EEA stage of Flexcit is transitory. It will last for a number of years for several reasons, but will not be the end point for a post EU membership UK.

Firstly, while we will want to build trade links with the rest of the world, we will also want to preserve our current markets while we do this. EFTA has been very good at negotiating FTAs, and while in EFTA there is no impediment for the UK in seeking deals within and without the group. We lose no competence in this area to EFTA as we do to the EU – that’s a massive difference in the level of freedom of action the UK will gain immediately.

While Pete North celebrates:

Thanks to Roland “White Wednesday” Smith, our comprehensive Brexit plan made a bit of a splash these evening having been announced on Newsnight as the plan under consideration by the civil service. As ever Newsnight managed to make a pigs ear of it without expanding on the critical details but it’s free publicity.

Lost Leonardo of the excellent Independent Britain blog is pleased, but unimpressed by cynical efforts underway by assorted Remainers to slander the interim EEA/EFTA (Norway) Option as some kind of betrayal of a vote to leave the EU, when it is no such thing:

With the legacy media finally turning its attention to the realities of Brexit—even Newsnight is now name-checking Flexcit—now seems like a good time to look again at the great vistas of opportunity that await a post-exit Britain.

First of all though, one has to address the “criticism”—if one can really call shouting, stamping of feet and pulling of hair critique—that adopting a phased approach to EU exit has elicited from a portion of the legacy media and the oh-so-tedious legacy campaigns.

It scarcely needs saying, but the Remainers’ feigned concern for the most belligerent voices in the “leave” camp is beyond cynical. The same people who have spent weeks, months, even years, verbally abusing anybody who has expressed the view that immigration is a bit high are now saying that it would be a “betrayal” for the UK government, supported by the House of Commons, to insist upon using the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement as a staging post for disengaging from the EU’s political and judicial union without any of the economic after effects that David Cameron and George Osborne have so irresponsibly exaggerated. Give me a break.

The hysterical reaction of Vote Leave and its associated sycophants is particularly loathsome. That organisation has done everything in its power to prevent the idea of a pragmatic, practical and non-hostile Brexit plan, which addresses the political realities as we find them not as we might like them to be, from taking hold in the public imagination.

This is a point which this blog also hammered home:

There is nothing on the paper whatsoever about the European Economic Area or “single market”. A vote to leave the EU is a vote for Britain to do exactly that – to leave an explicitly political, ever-tightening union of European countries all embarked on a journey to one day become a common state (as the EU’s founders and current leaders happily admit).

Many people are rightly now coming to the conclusion that the best way to achieve Brexit with the minimum of political and economic disruption is to exit to an “off the shelf” interim solution which already exists in the form of the EFTA/EEA membership enjoyed by Norway. This is why David Cameron has suddenly started talking about “a vote to leave the single market” over the past few days – it is a tacit admission that if we vote to leave the EU but remain in the EEA, every single one of the Remain campaign’s arguments are instantly negated.

Hence the [eagerness of Remainers] to do everything possible to slander the interim EFTA/EEA option, painting it as some kind of unconscionable scam when in fact it is an utterly pragmatic and realistic way of leaving the European Union while completely avoiding all of the apocalyptic economic scenarios which the Remain camp love to throw around.

The official Leave Alliance blog takes a deserved mini victory lap, while warning of the newfound hostility to the plan among Remain supporters and some unreconstructed Leavers. Proclaiming that reality is finally sinking in, Ben Kelly writes:

One of the most crucial elements of The Market Solution [..] is its aim of de-risking Brexit and neutralising the economic uncertainty associated with a vote to leave. We offer several scenarios that would minimise disruption and protect the economy and the most optimal of those is the EFTA/EEA route a.k.a the “EEA option” a.k.a the “Norway option”.

Leaving the EU will be a staged process; the EFTA/EEA route facilitates our transition from an EU Member State to an independent nation by protecting the economy, simplifying secession negotiations and providing us with a soft landing and a decent perspective of what “out” looks like for the near future. One of the key aims of The Leave Alliance was to disseminate this Brexit scenario amongst influential opinion formers; we were rebuffed by Vote Leave and Leave.eu, but we are now having great success late in the day as the EEA option is becoming potentially pivotal.

Due to the fact that it means leaving the EU in an economically secure way it has been the source of much fear for remainers, hence why they do everything they can to smear it. Many on the Leave side can’t get past the fact it means retaining freedom of movement, but their folly is to assume that controlling our borders is simple and abolishing free movement is a silver bullet. They are unreasonably uncompromising in refusing to accept the necessity of a transitional arrangement; we cannot leave the EU in one fell swoop.

Overall, a positive development, though we may wish to recall the words of Winston Churchill: “We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead”.

Suddenly, at long last the interim EFTA/EEA option is being discussed seriously at the highest levels in politics and the media. It took an extraordinary effort to make it happen – involving the tireless work of many of my Leave Alliance colleagues, and more than a little subterfuge here and there to ensure that the Great And The Good of British political life actually took it seriously rather than summarily rejecting it as the work of mere citizens, but here we are.

But with little more than two weeks to go until we cast our votes, is there enough time to establish the right narratives about the Norway Option and rebut the desperate smears of the Remain campaign? Or will it be too little, too late?

 

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