The British public can overthrow the Brussels machine
The Out campaign must fight the scaremongers because Britain will not "fall to its knees" if it leaves the EU, according to the head of the group that kept Norway out of the European Union
The upcoming referendum on EU membership in Britain is being watched with great interest in Norway.
It is a debate we Norwegians have been having for decades and the situation in Britain bears remarkable similarity to what happened in our own referendum.
Norwegians rejected joining the EU in 1972 and again in 1994 and Eurosceptic sentiment has soared in recent years, so much so that in the past decade every single opinion poll has found a majority opposed to joining. The most recent polling found 72 per cent of Norwegians opposed joining the EU.
Despite our Prime Minister and her party still dreaming of Norway to join, Norwegians are happier outside the EU. The mood is such that even 61 per cent of our Prime Minister’s own voters disagree with her position on Brussels.
The arguments the pro-EU campaign in Britain have been pushing are only too familiar.
Take the scaremongering by key figures such as the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) who claim that three million jobs will be lost if Britain were to leave.
In 1994 the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise similarly predicted the apocalypse if Norway were to reject membership, claiming 100,000 jobs would be lost (quite terrifying in a country of just over four million in 1994).
This claim could not have been further from reality as unemployment decreased in Norway following the referendum and has remained consistently lower than in EU member states every year since 1994.
There have been countless warnings from Brussels cheerleaders in Britain that global investment will dry up and your country will be far less competitive.
This too was one of the main arguments used in Norway. Again, reality was very different with foreign investment in Norway increasing several hundred per cent since 1994.
The truth is, Norway is not alone or isolated, has thrived as an independent nation. The Norwegian economy has enjoyed twenty years of higher growth than the economies of EU Member States and our international rankings are far higher on a wide range of issues including gender equality, social welfare, even on happiness.
Norwegians rejected the EU because our nation’s sovereignty and democracy is so important. Brussels is the antithesis of democratic and Norwegians, who believe so fundamentally in decisions being made closer to the people - in the municipalities, in the regions, in our own government - simply had no desire to be ruled by Brussels.
The campaign to leave the EU in Britain is strikingly similar to Norway.
In Norway, just as in Britain, the pro-EU campaign had the three M’s - MPs, money and media and stands as the Goliath to the leave campaign's David.
In Norway, we mobilised the public and defeated Goliath. We pounded the streets, grew our grassroots and took our message to every community in Norway - the cities, the farms, the valleys.
Cynical attempts by the pro-EU side to convince Britons your country will fall to its knees if it is not led by an undemocratic unelected body in Brussels are deceitful.
Britons, like Norwegians, are historically outward looking with an ingrained tradition of political democracy. The leave campaign must reawaken this within the British public to defeat the pro-EU machine.