Although I am basically in agreement with Iain Mansfield’s vision of a Britain which is outside the EU and is entering where possible into free trade agreements with countries and blocs the world over, I am not convinced that he has a proper understanding of EFTA, nor the right prescription for our future relationship with the EU. With regard to the first point, he seems to believe that membership of EFTA would in itself give preferential access to the EU market, and in this I think he is mistaken.
As for the second, he looks to the former Soviet nations of the Eastern Partnership, and their relationship with the EU, to explain the form of relationship that he thinks could be appropriate for the UK. But these nations are apparently seeking to draw closer politically to the EU by progressive harmonisation with its acquis, even if to a lesser extent than the three EFTA-EEA nations. Their Association Agreements have something in common with pre-accession agreements for countries that are seeking to join the EU. Inevitably, as the acquis develops, these EaP nations will be obliged one way or another to follow in its train, if they wish to maintain this form of association.
It seems to me that this is our opportunity to break free from a subordinate relationship to the EU. I believe that we should leave the EU completely and seek a free trade agreement with it. It seems certain that as a result we would lose some access to the EU market, particularly for services, but this seems a small price to pay for losing also our servitude to the EU, and being freed from the grip of the constant stream of debilitating legislation and ECJ rulings which constrict and bind us and render us increasingly impotent. Oh that we would see clearly what is at stake for our nation and choose the freedom that is now being offered to us, with the potential it has to unlock the creative and productive capabilities of a people with a wonderful heritage and unique character.