shortlisted for the Brexit prize by the IEA - covering the actual process of withdrawing from the EU and the post-exit position of the UK globally - Richard North's submission has now gone in today in anticipation of tonight's midnight deadline.
With 17 papers shortlisted in the prize they will hopefully provide a quality and genuine debate on the best way to exit the anti-democratic monstrosity that we are members of - a debate that has been severely lacking in other, sometimes surprising, quarters.
With the submissions still anonymous and now under judges' consideration I'm reluctant to give away too many details publically (having read it) which may give an indication who wrote it and thus maybe affect the outcome.
Just to be shortlisted was an achievement in itself but given the massive prodigious, mostly unseen, efforts by Richard over the last months the submission should walk away with the prize on merit alone. It could have very easily been over 100,000 words - given the complexity of EU exit - way above the 20,000 word limit.
Despite the merits of Richard’s paper, the outcome of the prize is too difficult to call. Especially given that exit from the EU is primarily a political problem, and process, not an economic one – a point that encouragingly some of the judges appreciate. Yet to produce a paper that argues that the economic consequences must be neutral potentially goes against the economic bias of IEA as a whole, especially given the economic arguments of NExit endorsed by judge Roger Bootle.
The paradox is the IEA remit was on the basis that the referendum had already been won, but the “Norway option” is there largely to help win the referendum in the first place by negating the fear of exit on economic grounds.
Yet the Norway (EEA) and the Swiss current arrangements are essentially a fudge. The EEA has among other problems a veto - a 'temporary' solution that tried to reassure the Norwegians on the merits of entering the Single Market while really trying to "bounce" them into full membership of the EU.
The Swiss agreements have similar intent but with the recent referendum on immigration, the Swiss model of bilateral agreements is set to unravel - especially given the guillotine clause which exists between the EU and Switzerland. Both Switzerland and the EU consider the arrangement very unsatisfactory.
What then is clear is if the UK exit and adopt the Norway model, it can be only temporary. Yet the UK's exit will be of such magnitude, with the addition of regaining our position at the "top table" of international organisations (without the EU to represent us), the UK can as a result play an important role in re-ordering the European post-war settlement. Britain would have the ability to take an active role in shaping the European landscape. We need not resort ourselves to a passive role.
Thus the submission offers a very positive outlook for the UK's role in the world. One hopes it wins.