At first blush, then, today’s report by the think tank Open Europe on the costs of EU regulations to Britain should push the prime minister to head for the exit. The burden of the costliest 100 regulations to our economy is £33 billion, it says. And while the apparent benefits total more than £58 billion, some £46 billion of this derives from three items “which are vastly over-stated”. Financially, it seems, we are losing out.By reducing the argument down to cost and economics means that it becomes divisive for the eurosceptic movement to its detriment as Richard North notes:
The trouble is that EU regulation, and how much money we may or may not save from leaving the EU, constitute the type of "biff-bam" arguments that the media love to report. But the two sides getting bogged down in such arcane details is precisely the wholesale turn-off for the general public that we need to avoid. If we are going to make any progress, the economic issues should be neutralised and "parked", not endlessly chewed over by a bunch of hyperactive think-tank wonks and ill-briefed politicians.Similarly arguing that the EU can be reformed has the same effect when trying to win a referendum. No wonder the pro-EU Telegraph is so enthusiastic in adopting such tactics.
What we are seeing, therefore, is incompetent campaigning from both sides – although the need to overcome the status quo effect imposes greater demands on the "out" campaign. Equal incompetence means we lose. Either way, though, the anti-EU movement is being poorly served. And if we can't even trash the OE nonsense, we deserve everything we get.
Interestingly, and far more dangerously, Business for Britain whose Chief Executive is Mathew Elliot who is very keen to be the official out candidate for a referendum uses precisely the same arguments and terminology as pro-EU Open Europe and the Telegraph. Business for Britain's daily email briefings are virtually identical to Open Europe's.
No doubt Tory central office will be over the moon if Elliot would be the official candidate for the out campaign in a referendum.
Any genuine euroscepetic knows that the EU hides in plain sight that its raison d'etre is all about political union and has been from the outset. To ignore that as a eurosecptic movement could be described as dishonest. Thus by neutralising the economic arguments it allows us to concentrate on the fundamental principle that the EU is all about political union by its own admission.
Neutralising the economic arguments involves invoking the Norway Option, and more specifically Flexcit, by adopting the off the shelf EEA solution as a temporary measure allows us to negate the inevitable FUD threat in a referendum.
And it is a threat that the pro-EU press such as the Guardian and City AM fully recognise. If they didn't they wouldn't spend so much time in trying to undermine the argument.
With this mind, it is interesting that the Telegraph uses the phrase "Norway model" rather than the usual term "Norway Option";
The so-called “Norway” model – leave the EU but remain part of the European Economic Area.A quick internet search suggests why; a search for the term 'Norway Model' is likely to result in links to copious pretty Norwegian women:
this and this:
This is cynicism by the Telegraph of the highest order, and this is an example of the dirty tricks we face. The eurosceptic movement as a whole needs to wise up...otherwise we will lose.