Monday, 6 June 2016
No fear of the Norway option
Having examined all of the other possibilities, there seems to be a consensus between rational leavers and remainers that the EEA option is best if we leave the EU. It is certainly an adequate comprise for the remains. It is also nearly guaranteed in the event of Brexit given the general feeling of the House of Commons.
It does of course prompt all the usual bilge about having no say in the rules. Such is nonsense. But there is also a rather stark and obvious fact that should not need stating. We're not Norway.
In every respect we are a larger, more diverse economy with a great many more industries, and we have serious soft power clout because of what we bring to the table. That is not to say we will force a better deal from the EU. An EEA solution is about right for our needs in the interim, but it is exactly the kind of clout we will be able to use internationally along with Efta once we are out. It is a means by which we mitigate the shortfalls of the EEA.
Efta along with the UK becomes the world's fourth largest bloc after Brexit. We would be more agile and more democratic than the EU. There is absolutely nothing that says we must work alone. We are not isolated. The following extract from The Palgrave Handbook of EU-Asia Relations is illuminating:
What this shows is that, especially as a larger and more important economy than Australia, we can be leaders in coalition building on international trade forums. As much as anything this makes us the kingmaker in any dispute between the US, EU and China. That is leverage we would never have inside the EU. We would be the deciding vote.
It is ironic that supposedly "isolated" Australia has done more to reform the EU Common Agricultural Policy than Britain has from with in over the last forty years.
Having access to the single market on more or less the same terms while having our international voice back is a great starting point for a new beginning, and is an entirely amicable arrangement with no hostilities or cliff edges. At this point, I see no real need to remain in the EU.