The Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage argues that a Norway-style Brexit would be a betrayal of the 2016 EU referendum result.
In truth, Britain did vote in that referendum by 52% to 48% to leave the European Union.
But how it leaves and on what terms were not on the ballot paper. Brexit was as ambiguous then as it is now.
The complex terms of Britain’s exit are for the government and parliament to navigate, which they are doing with great difficulty.
Farage claims the only way the 2016 vote can be honoured is for Britain to leave the EU without a deal and on World Trade Organization terms.
He is attempting to rewrite history. Britain voted to leave in 2016. It did not, despite his assertions today, vote on how to leave.
Most interestingly of all is how much he has changed his tune. Once upon a time, Farage was happy with a Norway-style Brexit.
In fact, he regarded it as a genuine form of Brexit. Not a betrayal, but a delivery.
Here he is in a UKIP video from before the election laying out the pros and cons of a Norway-style Brexit, and making quite clear that, while not ideal, he was comfortable with it.
Farage even goes as far as saying there is “absolutely nothing to fear” from such a Brexit. There’s a full transcript below.
“Well, last night at the Guildhall, David Cameron said if Britain left the EU we would find ourselves in the position of Norway where we could not actually decide ourselves on the rules that would affect British industry.
“Well, in a way it was a big admission because we have two big treaties with Europe. One is the Treaty of Rome, which went on to the Treaty of Lisbon, which is our membership of political union.
“But there’s a separate treaty that was signed in 1994 and that’s our membership of the European Economic Area. So what Cameron was admitting last night is that if we
leave the EU, we still have a free trade deal, not just with the other 26 EU
members but in fact with 29 other European states.
“Now, are we better off as Norway or as we as we are today? Well, the Norwegians do pay a contribution to the EU. It’s about one-seventh per capita of what we pay.
“They are completely opted out of the Common Fisheries Policy of the Common Agricultural Policy. They’re opted out of justice and home affairs. They’re opted out of all foreign policy decisions.
“They have, unlike us, a seat on the World Trade Organization and they’re able to make their own trade deals with all the other growing parts of the world.
“The drawback of the European Economic Area is we’re still part of a single market and, yes, rules would be made that would affect British industry over which we’d have no say.
“But, hey, how much say do we have at the moment because we’re in a very much minority position. And as the eurozone moves forward we will find ourselves increasingly on the outer fringe of the European Union.
“Members of it but actually with no influence at all. So the UKIP answer is this: There is absolutely nothing to fear in terms of trade from leaving the European Union because on D-plus one we’ll find ourselves part of the European Economic Area and with a free trade deal.
“And we should use our membership of the EEA as a holding position from which we can negotiate, as the European Union’s biggest export market in the world, as good a deal—my goodness me, if Switzerland can have one, we can have an even better one.”