WHY I’m Supporting EFTA4UK
A central objective of the EFTA4UK campaign is to move beyond the divisions that have plagued the UK since the EU referendum in 2016. Whether you wanted to or not, the United Kingdom is no longer a member of the European Union. ‘Brexit’ is a fact. It has happened. Article 50 cannot be ‘cancelled’ and it is no longer possible to ‘Remain’.
Hardliners on both ‘sides’ cling to unrealistic hopes — an economically damaging ‘No Deal’ on the one side and a protracted battle to ‘Re-join’ on the other. In truth, very few ‘Remainers’ are enthusiasts for a common currency, and very few ‘Leavers’ want a ‘WTO Rules’ relationship with our European neighbours. The majority of those who voted in 2016 value a close trading relationship with the EU and want the best for Britain.
We are inviting our supporters to explain, in a short (<1000 characters) statement, why they are supporting our campaign to re-join EFTA and once again take our place in the European Single Market. Please add your voice by using the form at the bottom of the page!
I support EFTA because it is a pragmatic solution for our country. The UK has always been on the periphery of European affairs. The country will always be divided on our membership of the EU. EFTA allows for EU reform without hindrance from a stubborn player like the UK, whilst retaining those core values we share as members of the wider European community. Joining EFTA protects the integrity of the Single Market, our union, our rights and, above all, peace in Northern Ireland.
Michael Gove said that Northern Ireland would have the “best of both worlds” by being part of the Single Market and the UK. Why can’t the rest of the UK have that too, by joining EFTA?
I always thought leaving a bad idea but would have accepted what I considered the compromise position, which was keep the economic ties but leave the political ones. i.e. EFTA. Indeed, I thought this would be our trajectory as so many Leave politicians said it would be (Johnson said we’d retain our free movement; Hannan said, the day after the Ref, that with such a close result we needed to Switzerland; Farage said Norway; etc). The fact we are torching our economy is nonsensical and in my view is what very few people wanted or expected in 2016. Had politicians really pushed for this compromise after the Ref, I’m sure they would have garnered support. It’s therefore right that we rebuild our links with Europe through closer economic ties and regain freedom of movement, which has now been taken away from so many.
I believe it very important we remain in the EEA and continue the 4 freedoms. We must afford our businesses and people the best opportunities in life, and I think remaining in the EEA but having the ability to negotiate our own trade deals separate from the common trade policy is in the best interests of the UK. I was a reluctant remainer, but would have backed leave had it been clearer that leaving the political structure of the EU but remaining within the economic structure of the EEA was the plan. I believe keeping the 4 freedoms with the EU and EFTA4 is important, but having the ability to shape and structure an independent trade policy is also very important and both combined offer the UK the greatest possible future for our economy and growth. As an individual I also want to keep my FoM rights, and as I plan to do a 4 month professional diploma at a German institution next year I would benefit from the continued rights to free movement and the EHIC scheme that EFTA membership would afford us.
I support EFTA even if there is no membership of the single market because it would be an inter-Governmental relationship with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein which the United Kingdom could then develop, evolve and build on.
Whatever the Political Declaration (PD) that is agreed it will only be a very small step on untying a relationship that the United Kingdom has had with the European Union for 47 years. From that starting point I would hope that EFTA will be the next logical step. I have said that EFTA is a ‘safe harbour’ for the United Kingdom. Once having joined EFTA maybe the United Kingdom could develop an EFTA Single Market relationship with the other states – an organisation of equal Sovereign States working inter-Governmentally together.
The re-emergence of a campaign for EFTA and EEA membership, EFTA 4 UK has been a glimmer of hope. I am not an EFTArian. I would rather be in the EU, but we are no longer members. Rejoining will be a slow process regardless of whether it happens via Scottish independence, a change in English attitudes, or both. Given that we have left the EU, we need a deal which allows people to live their lives, which minimises border issues, protects citizens’ rights and limits economic damage. EFTA+EEA would do this and I wish the campaign well.
In today’s connected world, we need to work with our neighbours. This is one of the reasons why I support EU membership, but it is also a reason for looking at EFTA as a practical solution to the problem of Brexit in the absence of that perfect, oven-ready deal.
I voted remain but had friends who voted leave. I understood the arguments against ever closer union but on balance considered EU membership positive. The result saddened me greatly but I accepted it, believing we’d stay in the single market. My attitude shifted as Teresa May spoke of “red lines” & it became clear we here headed for a ‘hard brexit’ based not on pragmatism & cooperation, but something very insular & damaging. I felt angry that my livelihood & freedom, & that of friends & colleagues, could be sacrificed in pursuit of a non-existent, populist “cake & eat it” fantasy. The reality is proving disastrous for many sectors, including mine, the music industry. Already struggling with Covid, businesses now face a mountain of time consuming & expensive bureacracy, rendering many unviable. We can do so much better than Johnson’s inadequate bare bones ‘deal’. We need to restore our freedom & UK’s reputation & competitiveness urgently. I believe an EFTA upgrade is now the way to go.
I’d say that this is now key to how we solve the riddle of what is our preferred future relationship with the EU. It’s time to put past feuding behind us and adopt a truly bipartisan approach. Whatever we voted then, whatever we personally want now, this is secondary to actively seeking a meeting of minds. Let’s focus on the things that we can agree upon. Respect the referendum result and seek to align around the most pragmatic and economically prudent way forward. Let’s work together. Work long and hard at better understanding each other’s perspectives. It’s imperative that we channel our energy and passion into bringing the country together. Together for EFTA. We can still enjoy a productive and positive relationship with the EU, albeit from the outside.