Richard North, 25/07/2016  

In a classically ignorant piece from an increasingly inadequate media, we have the Guardian/Observer report that:
Plans to allow the United Kingdom an exemption from EU rules on freedom of movement for up to seven years while retaining access to the single market are being considered in European capitals as part of a potential deal on Brexit.
Senior British and EU sources, we are told, have confirmed that despite strong initial resistance from French president François Hollande in talks with prime minister Theresa May last week, the idea of an emergency brake on the free movement of people that would go far further than the one David Cameron negotiated before the Brexit referendum is being examined.

This is, of course, the Liechtenstein/EEA option, which we dealt with fully at the end of June and again here and then in great detail here, with a coda here.

But from this illiterate report, two immediate things emerge. Firstly, while we are quite obviously dealing with Article 112 of the EEA Agreement, if the UK is an Efta/EEA member, there is no question of us taking the passive role of a supplicant, waiting to be "allowed" this option. We take it as of right, unilaterally, and use it to broker a permanent solution.

Secondly, Article 112 is not an "emergency brake". It can be used in emergencies, but is of widespread application and can be used to deal with long-term issues – and without any time limit. Typically though, in yet more examples of media coprophagia, the Telegraph and Mail have copied out the story, repeating the errors and thus miscasting the issue.

This has "eurosceptic" Tory MPs squeaking with rage, although they have no excuse for this at all. Their leader, Steve Baker, has been given a copy of my full report, on which this was based, and had every opportunity to question me on it at my Treasury Committee appearance, when he briefly referred to it.

But instead, we have him bleating about ending up "with the Government doing things that don't end the supremacy of EU law, don't leave us able to control our own migration policy and leave us in the EEA", which in his view will cause "a great deal of dissatisfaction".

Ignoring his brief, the man instead trots out the same old, vacuous Vote Leave mantra, saying: "British migration policy needs to be operated on the basis of British citizenship, not EU citizenship. We want to have taken back control and be seen to have taken back control".

These people remain ignorant either because they want to be, or because they are too idle (or arrogant) to read the stuff put in front of them. The Liechtenstein/EEA solution is a perfectly valid idea and does much to reconcile the apparently conflicting requirements of Single Market participation and permitting freedom of movement.

Backing up Baker, we then get self-opinionated but profoundly ignorant John Redwood, pontificating about the UK not voting for a "slightly beefed-up version" of David Cameron’s attempted renegotiation with the EU.

If this man and his colleagues climbed off their high horses and widened their reading, before sounding off about that which they know next to nothing, we would all be far better off.

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