Despite being a Remainer, I am trying as hard as I can to understand the Leaver position, particularly as Brexit appears to be inevitable. I try and keep an open mind about it all as much as is humanly possible. But man, the Brexiteers are making it hard to keep this up at present.
I recall a James Delingpole article during the referendum campaign called “I’ve seen Britain’s post-Brexit future – and it’s beautiful”. I can summarise the article for you: Switzerland is a beautiful country; Switzerland is not in the European Union; therefore, being outside of the European Union is beautiful. It is a remarkably empty conclusion, but I took one thing from it: Eurosceptics like Switzerland and want to us to be more like the Swiss. The land of Gruyere and cuckoo clocks was a positive role model for the UK.
Apparently not any longer. Now that the idea of Britain adopting the “Swiss model” post-Brexit is being discussed for real, Switzerland is no longer a good thing. Take this from Guido Fawkes yesterday:
“EEA minus/light is essentially the Swiss model. When Switzerland sought to end freedom of movement they were threatened with being cut out of single market access and eventually had to climb down and relinquish control of borders.”
Beyond the fact there is no such thing as the “Swiss model” – they have a bespoke deal, which is supposedly what Britain is after, but I digress – why have the Brexiteers turned on the Swiss all of a sudden? Is it because they have finally realised that not only does Switzerland have freedom of movement but are inside of Schengen as well?
The whole thing has devolved from a “skies the limit, let Britain fly” type of thing (albeit with fascistic “enemies of the people” overtones in there as well) to a dull discussion about EEA minus or CETA plus. Excuse me, what the hell is EEA minus anyway? This seems like another flavour of cake we’ll bake and then eat as well. So EEA membership benefits without freedom of movement, right? Never going to happen. CETA plus? So, the Canadian free trade deal but the EU will make it a bit better for the UK because, well, the UK is really important while the Canucks are just a bunch of schleps who live in a really cold version of America? Again, I can’t believe this is the mode of discussion around a decision as big as this one is.
I still have some leaflets somewhere from Bruges Group talking about how the Norway model would be great for the UK – but that the deal the Swiss has, wow, that would really be the ticket. It seems that is no longer the fashion amongst the Brexit devout, so what is the realistic way forward? Answers on a postcard, please.
Brexiteers are still a long way from considering a “realistic” way forward. They are still in the place where you have your cake and eat it. But obviously not the place where you have your butter and the money for the butter.