EU membership is about politics, not economics. But the debate is being grossly distorted by the Europhiled to scare people into maintaining the status quo while distracting people and businesses from understanding the facts. If we are to help the UK escape from this political prison while protecting its economic interests, understanding how this false debate has been framed, is essential:
In recent days, Tony Blair, the Lord Mayor of London, big business represented by the CBI and numerous others have all been repeating the same plaintively concerted cry. But what is almost wholly absent from all this one-sidedly lacklustre debate is any reference to the fact that, if Britain were to leave the EU, we could still enjoy full access to that single market by joining the European Free Trade Area (EFTA), allowing us to continue trading with the EU just as we do now.
It is not surprising that the cheerleaders for continued membership so consistently fail to explain this to us, because it completely removes from them almost the only argument they offer for why we must stay in, as part of Mr Barroso’s drive for political union.
If they do occasionally mention it, this is only so that they can scornfully dismiss it by claiming that, although EFTA members such as Norway have full access to the single market, they must obey all its rules without playing any part in shaping them.
But this merely betrays an astonishing ignorance of how the system works. Not only do Norway and other EFTA members play a very active part in consulting on single market laws before they are finalised. Ever more rules these days in fact originate in global bodies above the EU, such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) or the Aarhus Convention on environmental issues, on which Norway is represented in its own right as an independent country, exercising more influence than Britain, which is represented only by the EU.
This is the kind of hard, factual evidence which should be right at the centre of any proper, grown-up debate on Britain’s future relations with the EU. Yet it is ruthlessly swept under the carpet because, to the scaremongers who want to pretend that, outside the EU, Britain would have no influence, it is the very last thing they want the British people to know about.
The media won’t tell the truth. The Conservative Party’s proxy organisations won’t tell the truth. So the only way more people will understand this is spreading the word through the grassroots. Please do your bit to spread the word.