|The Ugly Sisters of the EU Remain camp|
Norway Fax Democracy (Oh no it isn't ... oh yes it is ... actually, no it really isn't).
I'd never been particularly vexed about Norway until the EU referendum became a reality and the 'Norway Option' became a target for the Remain campaign. Prior to that, only Adrian Mole 'Norwegian Lumber Exports' sprang to mind.
The Norway option is a credible short term alternative arrangement that the UK could adopt as part of a Brexit strategy whilst working on the bigger long term picture (again - I urge you to Google 'Flexcit' for the clearest example on this). It's a target for attack by the 'Remain' campaign because it's a clear and legitimate path away from the octopus like clutches of the EU. They hate it - but funnily enough, Norwegians love it.
It won't give us everything that the UK want as a nation, hence it is only suitable as a transition phase but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be a first step. The 'Remain' team constantly attack it as if it's being proposed as the end game but I've yet to find anyone in the 'Leave' team suggesting that this is the case. Straw man politics at its best.
Central to this attack is the premise that Norway are forced to adopt 'most' EU laws anyway in order to have a trade arrangement with them. The confidence with which this has been asserted would make most people believe that it's true - but it's not. I know this because I've checked it and so can you.
When the 'Fax Democracy' weapon was wielded by the 'Remain' team this autumn, I didn't see a reasonable rebuttal from either Vote Leave or Leave.EU. However, a blog post titled 'EU Referendum: the EEA acquis' from eureferendum.com (http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=85798) attacks the notion in some detail. Citing reference from the EFTA Secretariat, it explains that in terms of acts that are 'in force', the EEA (hence Norway) currently have just under 5000 applicable. It works out to around 21%. Including other applicable regulations, they're subject to around 28% in total compared to full EU members.
For those of us that are not steeped in the wonderful world of laws and regs, it can all become a bit confusing but the blog post not only shows its workings - but also explains where other people have gone wrong and where some 'leaps of faith' have been made in the past by those willing to marginalise the notion that Norway have got anything better than those inside the EU prison.
How can I find this out for myself? The tools appear to be openly available, so I checked the EU law aspect.
EUR-Lex allows you to check EU legislation in force:
At time of writing - this appears to work out to around: 23068
EEA-Lex gives you the same ability - allowing you to filter by "Incorporated into the EEA Agreement and in force"
Today - this appears to work out to around: 5041
That would appear to be about 21.8%, so largely in line with the eureferendum.com figures and a whole world away from the constant tripe spewing forth from Nick Clegg's EU loving lips.
Cameron's "reforms" (oh no he isn't .... errr - and everyone agrees. He's not)
David Cameron's renegotiation has become a bit of a running joke in all quarters. Each end every time he steps up to make an announcement, the commentariat fall over themselves laughing - because it's a sham.
Here, ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34759063 ) the BBC trumpets his latest one-man good cop / bad cop exercise. Apparently, Cameron is going to give a blunt warning that we'll exit if we don't get what we want. Yet none of us even know if what the PM wants is what we want?
Many of us have a suspicion that all he's really planning to do is dovetail the referendum in to pre-ordained changes that will conjure up EU associate membership status. If you look at his approach, he's so obviously walking the middle ground here, saying the EU needs reform but that ultimately we still need to be in the EU. Associate membership will be his proposed panacea but it seems like more snake oil to me.
When he finally does publish his demands to Donald Tusk, things will become interesting from a number of perspectives. No doubt he'll try to muddy the waters, but will it be enough to pacify the electorate? Just as interesting will be the reaction from his own party because we should start seeing whether it polarises the likes of May and Johnson. Will we see a continuation of their 'wait and see' attitude on the matter or could we expect some unhappy briefings or even public denouncement? The latter is unlikely but once the demands are known, it's going to be increasingly difficult for politicians not to address the specific points and state whether they're substantial enough.
For the Leave camp, this is an opportunity that simply cannot be missed. We should all be primed and ready to respond - exposing whatever cracks appear at the heart of the Remain campaign, exposing it for the tepid and fragile affair that it really is. Prepare yourselves.