Back in July I made conscious changes to my blog which I believe have been enormously beneficial. I am not just talking about a domain switch or changes to formatting and presentation. I am referring mostly to a deliberate narrowing of the scope of my content, subtle changes to my writing style and a renewed sense of purpose and focus. I've become more combative, especially with regard to emphasising detail and exposing falsehoods.
This blog has largely developed into a campaigning tool for a specific kind of Brexit. It reflects my ongoing growing and learning process and is a product of research and careful consideration. I realised towards the end of spring that in order to improve I would need to find something resembling a specialism to write about, even if that is difficult to do at 21 years of age. I noticed that I was spraying my opinions (often based on inadequacy) around like a sprinkler, with very little grounding in topics, and thought it best to become a sort of hose instead. Streamlined and targeted with a type of audience in mind. Otherwise, I thought, I would go on as I was, with a much smaller and more bit-part readership, that would dip in and out of what I was saying, and if then only for the sake of leisure rather than with guidance or discovery in mind.
The difference since then has been extraordinary. And I still remain independent and unfunded. Whereas once, an average post would attract perhaps 75 unique visitors, I now expect between 600 to 800 unique readers per entry, and such instances require only a tweet and a Facebook post. Posts which garner greater interest are read by up to 5,000. But not just that. It isn't how many readers I have that interests me, it is who reads that I prefer to concentrate on. This blog has attracted praise from academics, politicians and trade experts from all over the world. As you'd imagine, I'm extremely pleased with my progress.
Blogging is not a lost art and it certainly isn't dead. My blog stands out because I have certain circumstantial advantages which have made me surprisingly effective when trying to influence opinion. I am unique in that I am a converted soft Brexiteer who worked close to the heart of Vote Leave. This gives me a certain independence, an interesting perspective of events and, crucially, means I retain a modest link to the Westminster machine which can be useful where and when publicity is necessary. That is, after all, how our media operates. If you smell of it, they'll come swarming.
A part of me feels a little guilty about this. Various contributions to Flexcit have been profound and worthy of widespread appraisal. Its principle architects are fantastic researchers, the best of whom has for quite some time been Richard North. Such people have received almost no publicity despite their work being the most comprehensive and useful yet produced. This speaks volumes about the priorities of our media, and indeed about the scope of content that the public are being exposed to. The best research has been ignored, whilst politicians have been briefed by substandard material and hard Brexiteers have been granted a monopoly on Leave's discourse. In kind, the mainstream media has placed too much focus on triviality, petty character assassinations and the contributions of those solely in Westminster, and not enough on the wealth of knowledge that exists outside of it.
I am currently in discussion with producers at Channel 4 News, who have picked up on my position and are interested in including me in debating formats and on their news programme towards the end of the month. I will also, from here on out, be making a concerted effort to pitch to newspapers in an attempt to spread messaging and raise awareness to the EFTA EEA position. I recognise acutely the need to be proactive. There isn't much time left and anything that individuals, particularly those who are pragmatic and well-informed, can do to wrestle negotiations from a hapless government is advised. I can have some impact, even at a young age, and feel a certain responsibility to be as active as I possibly can be. No matter the odds.
I don't care how many ministers rule out the Norway option. Their recurring obsession with it only indicates how resilient it is to criticism and opposition. It is the only Brexit that will not die or surrender because it is the best way of conducting our withdrawal. Michel Barnier acknowledges this, and believes that the second best option for the UK (behind remaining in the EU) would be to remain a member of the European Economic Area. There is also the question of time. The Article 50 period is quickly closing and increasingly we are pressed to begin substantive trade talks. My gut feeling is that we will reach a point at which a large number of European countries, including those within EFTA, will panic, recognising the urgent need to conclude terms of trade.
This is perhaps where EFTA EEA will come in. I think there is more chance of the Norway option being selected as we draw closer to the end of the Article 50 period. The big bonus presented by the EFTA EEA position is that it is a ready-made package and provides Britain with the quickest and securest way out of the European Union. Far be it from being EU membership by stealth. The irony is that our current approach to talks may achieve an EU-lite position, with a succession of vague, hopeless transitional arrangements which do not see us leave in any meaningful sense. Once those alarm bells start ringing, in the autumn and winter of 2018, when no doubt insufficient progress has been made, advocates of EFTA EEA will have their moment in the sun.
And I will be there waiting, doing my bit to help shape the path the country travels down. This isn't over until it's over and there are certain Brexiteers who can't, for the sake of sanity and our economy, be awarded victory. There is a golden opportunity for me to act as a bridge between pragmatic Leavers who appear not to be in receipt of promotion of publicity, such as those at the Leave Alliance and EFTA4UK, and audiences retained by our media. I need to seize it.