Russia Today recently devoted its Cross Talk programme to the EU referendum issue, with Robert Oulds from the Bruges Group, Tony Halpin from The Times and MEP Georges Chatzimarkakis, hosted by Peter Lavelle.
The video clip was brought to my attention by a reader who noted with delight how Oulds had managed argue to the point about Norway’s “influence” on Single Market legislation.
But what is equally of interest is the intensity with which Tony Halpin defends the “no influence” pitch. He simply won’t have it that EFTA/EEA countries have the ability to influence and even block EU law.
The is first raised by Chatzimarkakis (about ten minutes into the programme), Oulds disputes this, and Halpin then pitches in with the claim:
I think it’s very difficult to be outside a club and be affected by its rules. The rules will be imposed – you don’t have a choice whether to accept them or negotiate them. They’re presented to you – it’s a single economy against a collective weight of – I dunno, seventeen or eighteen. Um, Norway and Switzerland do have to comply with …
At this point Oulds intervenes, saying that Norway had been able to exercise a veto, but Halpin clearly does not like being contradicted. Britain out of the EU would be “very isolated”, he says.
Entertainingly, Boiling Frog gives us an example of where Iceland has been able to buck the system. Whether The Times is up to speed on this, I neither know nor care. If Halpin is an example of this paper’s output, it is not worth paying to find out.