|The brains of the Brexit campaign|
In a pedestrian fashion it attacks to "Norway model", something we have thoroughly debunked more times than is healthy. Brown says "While some have offered the counter-argument that Norway can influence EU rules indirectly via organisations such as the OECD and the World Trade Organisation; (I wonder who?) when even the country’s prime minister has gone on record concerning the inadequacy of Norway’s situation it hardly seems a worthwhile endeavour to persist with this debate."
Therein lies the dishonesty in that Erna Solberg is a rabid europhile, and if our own PM is anything to go by, these are the last people you would ask about the complexities of critical regulations and the process by which they become law. Moreover, the argument is a good deal more involved than a casual reference to the OECD and WTO as readers of this blog will be well aware. In any case, Norway is not mooted as the destination but a mechanism by which we set off the Brexit process.
Brown continues to explore the alternative options highlighting their most obvious flaws, attacking Ukip and the ill-fated Brexit Prize solution in that tariffs are neither here not there and that the real issue is technical barriers to trade and regulatory divergence. This is not exactly news to us and nothing we have not already explored at length.
Brown says "companies can also experience barriers to free trade if rules within another country impede them from doing business. A food manufacturer, for instance, might well be allowed to export their product without paying a tariff, but this would be little consolation if one of the ingredients in their product was banned by food safety regulations in the target market. A deal to eliminate tariffs solves the first problem, but it does nothing in principle to remove this second set of obstacles."
Well no shit, Sherlock! This is precisely why we have chosen the Norway Option because it deals with exactly that in the most risk free way. That is why it is why the PM was in such a rush to attack it. Having conceded this ground, the idiotic Dominic Cummings of Vote Leave Ltd and astonishingly moronic Andy Wigmore of "Leave.EU" have put the campaign on very shaky grounds, now having to either row back and refute their own campaign material or be forced to speculate on what some mythical free trade deal would look like.
Brown expands the point by saying that the issue of regulatory convergence is "precisely what the EU’s single market is supposed to address. By establishing a set of mutually acceptable rules across all member states, the single market ensures that if a product passes the appropriate British standards it will also be accepted throughout the rest of the EU. This principle is, if existing studies are to be believed, extremely valuable for the UK economy, it’s simply disingenuous to imply that all of these benefits are reducible to an ill-defined free trade agreement to be negotiated at a later date."
Absolutely. But of course, we would expand it further by saying that the EU is not the single market and the shared rules that remove the technical barriers to trade are not made by the EU and extend well beyond the confines of the EU - including dozens of non-EU states. That is easily demonstrable which is why it's such a winnable argument.
We have tried to explaning these concepts to both Cummings and Wigmore but these are idiots of such epic magnitude that the points are entirely lost on them. Because they themselves are too stupid to understand the finesse of the arguments, they assume everyone else is equally retarded. Clearly Stuart Brown isn't and nor will the opinion formers our side needs to win over.
Trickle-down opinion forming is how politics generally works and people largely receive their views from those sources they trust. If our campaign cannot win the technical and intellectual argument then once it filters through to the public, we're stood naked looking as inept and as crass as Ukip did toward the fag end of the general election. It's Ukip all over again.
As much as the Norway Option is the one that saves us having those arguments that open us up to the "uncertainty" meme, it is one that that would be the most achievable, and from a pragmatic perspective, one that our own negotiators would probably devise having bumped into all the political realities of the other options in the timescale they have. If we establish the Norway Option as phase one of the Brexit process, we have thoroughly prepared the ground to build on the argument. Every time we road-test such an argument we win it hands down.
But this is all academic now that Beavis and Butthead are running the campaign - and since their egos are massive and their brains tiny, we are pretty much screwed. These two cretins are going to blunder on, taking us further up the cul-de-sac, losing all the arguments and make a total pigs ear of it. Too bad "I told you so" doesn't pay the bills.