In a statement issued on 30 September 2020, the surviving original members of the EFTA4UK campaign (Hugo van Randwyck sadly died in January 2020) said:
EFTA4UK was formed to raise the profile of and provide information about the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and to make the case for rejoining it as an alternative to EU membership.
EFTA4UK argued that after 40 years of EU membership and integration, Brexit would need to be a carefully managed process rather than an event. Returning to the successful, smaller, and looser grouping of EFTA – of which the UK was a founding member – seemed a logical first step.
After the 2016 vote, EFTA4UK continued to campaign for the UK to re-join EFTA. It was our belief and hope that this compromise would reconcile both sides after a hugely divisive referendum. It not only recognised the UK’s historic links to Europe but also resonated with the classic Eurosceptic preference for “common market yes, political union no.”
Our group punched considerably above its weight. However, the divisions of the referendum persisted; we were unable to gain enough traction in the face of what had become a bitter and polarised “Leave” versus “Remain” culture war.
Now, in the middle of an unprecedented public health crisis, Brexit strategy appears to lack coherence and preparation, relying on political bombast over pragmatism. There is a palpable sense that poor strategic decisions are being made and that Britain’s reputation in the world is suffering. We urgently need Leavers and Remainers to unite around a solution that maintains the UK’s trading relationships with Europe while maintaining the political independence for which we campaigned.
With that in mind, we, the remaining original members of EFTA4UK, are delighted that Patrick and Ben together with Martin and James have relaunched EFTA4UK. They bring experience, knowledge, and energy; moreover, they were on opposite sides during the referendum campaign but are now acting together to advocate for a sensible future relationship.
We believe that they will be able to forge a successful movement that will, crucially, help heal the old referendum divisions.
We give them our wholehearted support and hope that you will too.
Mark and Gary