I have published a short book on the Amazon platform, called Norway then Canada, a new strategy to avoid a Brexit smash. Lord Owen, the former Labour foreign secretary, has kindly written a Forward.
I wrote it over the summer, when the weather was dodgy in the Isle of Wight. I advocate that Britain should fall back on the so-called Norwegian option. This is our existing membership of the European Economic Area Agreement, which Britain signed in 1992. We can then use that as a platform to negotiate a more flexible Canada-style free trade partnership with the European Union.
Brexiteers in Parliament have apparently been misled into thinking the EEA is not an option. The points I make are:
- The Government, including the Prime Minister, has been disingenuous about our membership of the EEA. The only reason it will no longer operate when we leave the EU, as she claims, is that Britain has not applied to make it operative by joining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
- The Prime Minister is apparently attempting to remove a vital Brexit option and negate an international treaty by subterfuge or by mistake. EEA membership is superior to the so-called No Deal, World Trade Organisation proposals, her Chequers plan or delaying Article 50.
- The EEA is a commercial treaty with the EU, which also delivers Brexit.
- We would gain control of our borders. British passports would come back and we can use the treaty provisions to opt out or limit freedom of movement, just as Lichtenstein has done.
- We would gain control of our laws. Although we would be aligned with the single market, the EEA includes rights of adaptation and veto on new rules. We would be outside of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
- We would gain control of our money. There is no obligation to pay into the EU budget. Any payments to the EU would be in return for participating in particular programmes. George Yarrow, an Oxford University economist, has estimate Britain’s net payments to the EU would fall from some £9bn to £1.5bn.
- We would gain control of our trade. The EEA is outside the customs union and we would be free to make our own trade deals.
- We would be outside of the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy.
In his Forward, Lord Owen says: “This paper is an excellent explanation of a complex, serious and important Brexit option that urgently faces Parliament. Continued membership of the European Economic Area Agreement, given the nature of Article 50, is the only rational option and it should be put into legislative form by a cross party motion supported by as many MPs as possible.”
Lord Owen adds that the Government should then approach the other contracting parties, the EU itself, the other 27 members, and the four members of the EFTA to make our EEA membership operative. But he says this should be temporary, while a more flexible free trade deal is negotiated.
Norway then Canada has been published to coincide with the launch of a new campaign for the Norway Option, led by Conservative MP Nick Boles, called Better Brexit.
Some of you may have had sight of earlier drafts. Thank you for your input. The final version has been updated substantially.
The Amazon platform allows you to download Norway then Canada to Kindle, or to order a hard copy.