Image: EEA (CC-BY-SA-2.5)

Some call it a temporary safe haven or an alternative to being in the European Union, but membership of the European Economic Area is neither.

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Should the UK make the mistake of entering the European Economic Area in its own right, either as a temporary safe haven or as a full answer to Brexit, then we will find ourselves within a decaying orbit around the European Union.

Some people, like Michael Gove, have argued that the EEA looks like a suitable way ahead, a place where we can rest a moment to take stock before moving on in our Brexit ambitions.

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But, as Lee Rotherham writes in CapX:

"There is unfortunately a fundamental flaw to this approach: the laws of political kinetics. Once in such an arrangement, the impetus to do anything further will, in all probability, ebb and we will stay there.

"So it is of no use as a transitional step. Worse, the growing gravitational pull of the EU itself will over time drag us back. This, indeed, is the aspiration of some who pursue this approach."

The EEA, says the author, is being drawn inexorably into the EU anyway. So an unsure and unconfident UK joining them will just leave us in the same limbo gradually rule-making our way back in.

And it also means leaving our borders within the control of others.

"That’s not all." He says "In two papers for the Red Cell, Eurosceptic campaigners from Norway and Iceland have set out their views on EEA membership as it stands. They both see the EEA as an improvement on the EU, yet also consider a free trade deal as superior to both. I think that should be reason enough for us, and for Mr Gove, to take pause."

From my point of view, the UK membership of any EU institution or agency is much the same.

From police, to the armed forces to the single market to the customs union to a space agency to a medicines agency etc – the UK must have its own answer and not be a part of something that removes any of the decision making from within the United Kingdom.

And to those who say that about Nato and the UN – I say none of those insist that we join them at the hip in a binding political partnership.

And as Lee Rotherham says, as he ends his piece:

"Effectively, I fear our timorous establishment will psychologically remain prisoners of a new Shadow EEA. This is not only a dismal prospect. It would be a pathetic one."

And, as I speak Theresa May is off to see the very pro-EU French President, Emanuel Macron, to try and get him to come round to her way of thinking, about a deal that Michel Barnier, the EU chief Brexit negotiator, has already said is a threat to their beloved Single Market.

But the former UK ambassador to France, Lord Ricketts, has told the BBC that as a total believer in the European project, Macron is 'the last person' who would want to soften his stance with the UK.

So, where does that leave us?

Well, with every day that passes it leaves the UK another step nearer a full no-deal Brexit, as the time to try and extend Article 50 or fit another meaningful EU referendum into the time left available ebbs away.

And the nearer we get to Brexit Day on March 29th 2019, the braver a prime minister would have to be to pull the plug and either extend Article 50, or call another referendum – and that's especially true of Mrs May who's always promised that Brexit means Brexit!

Finally, here's some stuff you may not have heard from the mainstream media.

The latest release on Civil Service employment published today by the Office for National Statistics shows:

in the financial year ending the 31st March 2018, civil service employment had increased by 10,676 or 2.5% to 430,075 compared to the previous year.

Of these 331,392 were full time, which is 10,299 or 3.2% more than the previous year and part time workers increased by 447 or 0.5% to 98,683.

Of those that declared, 12% were from an ethnic minority and 10% were disabled.

Median gross annual earnings for Civil Service employees, excluding overtime or one-off bonuses, were £26,610, an increase of £710 or 2.7% on the previous year.

One supposes that this increase in the civil service was to take on more people to internally oppose Brexit, because I don't see much pro-Brexit work being done. But at the same time police budgets and numbers are being cut in the face of rising crime.

What is going on?

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