Richard North, 10/05/2016  

Briefly looking at the mechanism for leaving the European Union, in this second part of the presentation, we look at the problem of immigration and free movement, noting that these issues must be treated separately.

The terminology, as always, is massively important, to the extent of realising that the same words mean different things when the context changed. "Freedom of Movement" in the EEA is not the same as in the EU. In the EEA, we are able to apply "safeguard measures" (the so-called emergency brake) unilaterally, without having to wait for permission from Brussels.

Even with freedom of movement in place, we can still do a great deal about immigration but, above all, we have to recognise that migration drivers go well beyond regulation. Migration flows are a phenomenon which need special measures. Specifically, we have to deal with what are known as the "push-pull" factors, which requires integrating our own policies to provide a holistic approach. 

This brings us to Phase Three of our exit plan. As far as the EEA goes, the moment we leave the EU, huge changes take place. With more than eighty percent of the Single Market acquis amenable to global standards, increasingly the law is framed by global bodies and then handed down to Brussels.

As an Efta/EEA member, we have a direct line into the law-making processes which are settled long before they get to be EU law. We are in the driving seat – Brussels responds to our agenda.

Standing aside from this for a moment, over the last few days, we have seen from Michael Gove on the Marr Show, and from Matthew Elliott in his oral evidence to the Treasury Select Committee, some extraordinarily muddy thinking about the nature of the Single Market.

In fact, there is a shared delusion afflicting the chattering classes – and especially prevalent amongst Tory MPs and their hangers-on – that the Single Market is a "free trade area", a term itself which is sufficiently ill-defined to allow a variety of constructions.

Primarily though, these people think in terms of tariffs, then offering qualified approval for the idea of the Single Market but then bemoaning the extent to which it is "riddled" with "rules and regulations". Their ideal is to partake in this mythical "free trade" while dispensing with what they see as the "obstacles" of the "red tape" which besets the system.

What these people fail completely to understand is that the Single Market, as a Common Regulatory Area (CRA), it is the "red tape". It is not a bug, as the saying goes: it is a feature. Specifically, it is the feature.

Thus, as we have pointed out, you simply cannot be "outside the single market but have access to it". For Michael Gove to state that he wants "access" for the UK is simply to betray his complete lack of understanding of what the Single Market actually is.

Essentially, the position is this: you adopt the "rules and regulations" – the acquis - which makes you part of the Single Market or you do not adopt them, which means you are not part of it – you are "outside".

The point that emerges from this is that you cannot be "outside" and have "access" to the Single Market. You're either in it, or you're not in it - an absolute, binary choice.

Earlier, in my commentary about Part 1, I talked of making the mistake of not giving enough emphasis to the end game and being too focused on the method of extraction. But I'm beginning to think that I've made an even bigger mistake, in under-estimating the degree of ignorance of such matters as the Single Market. I've been assuming that people know the basics, without realising how shallow their knowledge actually is.

One sees this from remarking that being outside the Single Market and having access to it is not actually possible, only then to find the Telegraph arguing that this "is a consistent position".

There is simply no meeting of minds here. The leader-writer of a national "quality" newspaper is talking gibberish, displaying a fundamental misunderstanding of the very nature of the very thing we're supposedly fighting over. Small wonder the writer thinks this is a "dry" economic argument.

Returning to my presentation, what we actually see is an "invisible" revolution, where the Single Market is being recreated at a global level. Far from being "dry", this is a tremendously exciting development, but one which – trapped in the constraints of "little Europe", we are at risk of being left out.

But, as I point out in my remarks that close this part, this "genuine single market" at a global level, is where we want to be.

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