Thursday, 19 July 2018

No retreat! No surrender!

An article at Lib Dem Voice points out:

There is however a ready-made solution that could sort this [Brexit] mess out, and that is for the UK to join the European Economic Area (EEA) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA)*.

This arrangement already works well for Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein, and it could work well for Britain too.

The author suggests that the Lib Dems should get behind this idea and unite moderate Leavers and Remainers... the comments are mainly hard core Bremoaners shouting the idea down.

Via @paulknight85, an article at ConHome says the Tory government:

... have no alternative but to look for a Plan B. Here is one.

The Government tears up Plan A, and seeks to park the UK in the EEA* for, say, four years. At the end of that period, the UK would trade with the EU on basic WTO terms, if a David Davis-style Canada Plus Plus Plus deal had not been agreed.

... the comments are mainly hard core Brexiteers shouting the idea down.

I suppose this is some sort of reverse Indian Bicycle Marketing, either way, I'm sick of extremists on both sides.

* The first author gets the order wrong, you have to join EFTA first and thus are eligible to join the EEA, and the second author glosses over this completely, or is ignorant of the fact that to be in the EEA, a country must be a member of EFTA or the EU, but hey.


Lola said...

The trouble is that there is no 'middle way' (in anything really). If choice A is 'right' then choice B (the opposite) must be wrong. If we have a choice which is a bit of A and a bit B it must still be wrong. You cannot be almost pregnant.

Hence for hardcore remainers, they want in. Thye do not want out - hence what you quote. Ditto hardcore brexiteer.

Hence we have a binary decision.

Brexiteers are very happy to suffer any short term reversals of fortune arising from a vengeful EU as they value self determination etc above all else. Anyways they 'know' that more liberty and less regulationism brings more reward down the line.

Conversely Remainers see the EU as their Nirvana. It's a quasi socialist statist construct, which the Libdems (for example) quite like. And they are generally not at all sanguine that more liberty and less regulationism makes us better off.

They (we?) are never going to agree.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, more and more sane people are saying, sod it, EFTA will do is just fine. It's neither extreme (both of which must be wrong).

Like right temperature being a balance between too hot and too cold.

Derek said...

The only real economic advantage of leaving (as far as I'm concerned) is the ability to abolish VAT and replace it with something less destructive. Which seems extremely unlikely to happen of course. I would be quite happy to join EFTA (and later the EEA) provided that joining it doesn't destroy that possibility. Otherwise it seems to me that the only sensible choices are hard Brexit and Remain.

So what is the situation with regard to VAT?

Mark Wadsworth said...

D, EFTA countries are not forced to have VAT.

Blissex2 said...

«seeks to park the UK in the EEA* for, say, four years. At the end of that period, the UK would trade with the EU on basic WTO terms»

That is basically the "Flexcit" plan by R North (, pretty much one of the founders of the "Leave" movement. But with a much longer period instead of 4 years.
The problem with that plan is that persuading both the EFTA and EU27 members to accept it would be quite difficult, and as a short-term temporary solution it would be extremely unlikely to be accepted. The usual something that tory "Leavers" don't get: the EU27 and EFTA countries are not like Basutoland or the Banda Islands where sending a few gunboats or regiments of redcoats ensures they will sign the treaty. International treaties are no longer negotiated between the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office.

The other difficulty is that freedom of movement of both capitals and workers is an essential part of both EFTA and EEA membership, and while R North believes that Article 112 of the EEA treaty can be invoked at will, it is about suspending freedom of movement (of either capital or workers) only in extreme circumstances like economic collapse or a major disaster.

«if a David Davis-style Canada Plus Plus Plus deal had not been agreed.»

Well, let's see if “Whatever happens we have got / the Maxim gun and they have not” (as H Belloc wrote) can still be the foundation of english foreign policy... :-)

Blissex2 said...

«Brexiteers are very happy to suffer any short term reversals of fortune arising from a vengeful EU as they value self determination etc above all else.»

There are two or three factions of "Leavers", and the ones nearer to that are the english tory "Leavers".

My current understanding is that the regard EU membership as a national humiliation, and thus intolerable, and thus worth a big price to get rid of, and this has nothing to do with "self determination".

Consider the English Empire and the UK (which should be really called the English Union): just like the EU they are/were supranational entities, with shared sovereignty, freedom of movement and trade, single market and customs unions, with supranational courts, delegation of powers to a central government.
In both the English Empire and the UK the loss of sovereignty and self-determination from England to the supranational entity was and is much bigger than that of the UK with respect to the EU, yet nobody wanted or wants for England to "Leave" the English Empire or the UK.

The reason is pretty obvious: the Eton/Oxbridge/peerage english elites dominated and dominate the English Empire and the UK, so they don't care whether England itself has sovereignty and self-determination: they do have it, and that's enough.
But in the EU England is "just a member" and the english tory elites are not its sole ruling class, but just a big power block that needs to do deals with the french and german elites instead of ruling unilaterally like in the English Empire and in the UK, and that is for a large part of the english tory elites an intolerable national and class humiliation.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, first comment. I have nothing against free movement of Europeans within Europe, being a liberal sort of chap and having been a beneficiary of this myself. I think if we asked EFTA whether we can join temporarily for four years is taking the piss and if I were them I would say 'no'. If we join, we have to mean it sincerely, not as a stop gap.

B, second comment, I don't like all these caricatures, sure there are people like that but they are of no concern to me.