Reviewing what people would vote ‘For’ in the positive sense, as opposed to them voting against something, that something being Political Union:
An Interesting Development
An Adam Smith Institute sponsored poll released in the Sunday Telegraph on the 12th June has shown that if offered the choice, the people of Britain would support leaving the EU to replace the political union with Single Market membership.
<A New Container Handling Facility at Liverpool. Trade will continue.>
Listening to David Cameron on the Andrew Marr show on the same day, it became clear (again) that everyone making the Economic case for Remain is not making that case based on EU political union. They are making it based on Single Market membership and Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats later tweeted a similar message.
This is significant as it echoes the 1975 referendum which many voters thought was about the ‘Common Market’, clearly a trading not a political arrangement.
My own very limited poll showed that people are willing to accept the conditions of membership of the single Market in one particular respect which is contentious for many Brexit advocates: immigration.
As you can see from the date of the poll, this is not something that has just come to mind due to the ASI poll. The work of the Leave Alliance is based upon assuring voters that there is a safe exit route from the EU that takes account of the Economic uncertainty.
Some articles about this latest polling development and its implications have already been written by Leave Alliance Bloggers and each of the bloggers listed below will have other articles you may find of interest if this approach to leaving the EU appeals to you (it Should!):
In 1975, the pro EEC politicians were known as Marketeers, indicating that they supported Britain remaining in the Common Market. There was no such thing as the Common Market of course, it was actually the European Economic Community (EEC). The EEC was also referred to as ‘The Community’ in reference to the European Economic Community.
There are some who say that the public knew exactly what they were voting for in 1975 and that government information made it clear. I think that isn’t the case for one reason alone: The Heath government kept secret Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice that joining the EEC meant a huge loss of sovereignty. Ted Heath himself appeared on television to reassure the electorate. But worse than that, it transpires that the civil service and the government of Britain had known for years what the end goal of the EEC was: A single European state
Although it was debated in the House of Commons at the time and at various points subsequently, British politicians have mostly just avoided the subject of a single European State. It seems this has been known and is discussed quite openly in continental Europe however. Here’s an image that I tweet out often, to press home that this is the actual question that you are being asked on June 23rd:
I think it is clear that the UK public in general don’t think this is what the EU Referendum debate is about at all and Remainers will very rarely state it in such terms.
The main argument, from both sides has been about trade, so lets continue to address that.
The EEA Single Market
A reason politicians do not make a clear distinction between the Single Market and the EU is that calling it out would let people know that they are not one in the same. I find that vague descriptions give politicians more room to be evasive, hence the even more vauge ‘Europe’ term used by Remain.
In fact, the Single Market is the European Economic Area (EEA). The EEA entered into force in 1994 and allows members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) to access the EU Single Market on roughly equal terms.
From the EU website:
To establish a dynamic and homogeneous European Economic Area, based on common rules and equal conditions of competition and providing for the adequate means of enforcement including at the judicial level, and achieved on the basis of equality and reciprocity and of an overall balance of benefits, rights and obligations for the Contracting Parties. The EEA Agreement allows for EEA EFTA participation in Internal Market relevant Community programmes and agencies, albeit with no right to vote. The EEA-EFTA states also make financial contributions towards the reduction of economic and social disparities in the EEA.
Note where it states ‘albeit with no vote’, that does not mean that EFTA states have no influence over EEA relevant laws, they do via joint EFTA/EU mechanisms.
This very short video from the Norwegian Ambassador to the EU makes clear both that Norway (an EFTA member) does not pay for access to the EEA Single Market (though they do make other payments), but also that the EEA is intended to be a level playing field for trade.
Agriculture and Fisheries are not included in the EEA. Access to the market for Financial Services are covered by so called Passporting Rights (Bank of England website).
The benefit of moving from EU Political Union to a predominantly trade based arrangement is return of supremacy over British laws, although compromises are still required to enable a Single Market which is more than a traditional Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
The advantage of the EEA agreement is that it is pre-existing and the UK is already a signatory to the agreement. This means it is almost certainly the offer that will be made by the EU to continue trading relations between the the EU and UK due to the relative ease of implementation and the consequent lack of disruption to both parties in the current fragile economic climate.
In truth the potential impact of going into heavy negotiations with the UK is too much for even the EU to manage. I give some detail on the dynamics behind this in my The Deal is Already Done post.
The Journey Doesn’t End There
So, moving to an EFTA/EEA position presents the safest, least disruptive step out of EU, if the British public votes for and Politicians in the House of Commons agree to enact Brexit.
However, EFTA/EEA does have limitations and wouldn’t suit the UK long term.
The most prominent current member of EFTA taking advantage of EEA market access is Norway. Norwegian politicians still maintain that Norway should join the EU but the people have never been convinced. However, even those politicians and officials who don’t want Norway to join the EU still raise issues about the EEA mechanism.
If the UK, a substantially bigger and importantly a much more diverse economy than Norway moved to an EFTA/EEA position, we would likely want to change the agreement in time or come up with an alternative mechanism.
The Flexcit Plan from Dr Richard North and the team at eureferendum.com and The Leave Alliance at Leavehq.com defines an alternative to the EEA based on UN regional bodies.
But Vote Leave Don’t Want The Single Market!
Although the Flexcit plan has been in existence for over 2 years and it is being read by Civil Servants in Whitehall, it has not been adopted by the officially designated lead Leave organisation, Vote Leave. Furthermore, Vote Leave don’t advocate the UK remaining in the Single Market anyway.
As pointed out by Richard North in an article published after Cameron’s appearance on the Marr Show that I referenced at the start of this post, Vote Leave do not represent the entirety of the Leave campaign.
Vote Leave actually represent… Vote Leave!
I’m not suggesting its a case of Boris wanting to be Prime Minister (I don’t care less, I won’t vote for him when he needs the support of the public and you don’t need to either) but that Vote Leave has a particular message, fashioned by a small group of people, some of whom have come to the Brexit debate late in the day and have not grasped the enormity of what they are dealing with.
The actual events that would lead to the Government (of whatever composition) taking up the Civil Service advice to press for retention of Single Market membership has been covered by Roland Smith of the Adam Smith Institute here.
If Vote Leave endorsed EEA as an interim position before the UK moves to a long term arrangement over time, a huge question mark would be removed from the Leave position.
As it stands, Remain can simply taunt Brexit supporters with ‘They just don’t know’!
All so avoidable and the Public know it even if Vote Leave don’t seem to.