BRITAIN AND THE EUROPEAN UNION: SOME OF THE PERTINENT FACTS
"Brexit would mean a lot more foreign policy for Britain to cope with, a lot closer to home. Or, more accurately, for England to cope with – one of the most bankably predictable consequences of Brexit would be an early Scottish vote for independence within the EU, rather than continuing as part of a withdrawn UK. Sorting out the implications of “abroad” beginning for both countries along the line of the Cheviot Hills – especially in the context of the urge to “restore control of national borders” – would be anything but easy. At least violence is not likely to ensue – unlike in Northern Ireland. Any attempt to impose a fully controlled border between the UK and the Republic would not only be futile, as the years of terrorism demonstrated, but would also undermine the foundation upon which the Good Friday peace process is built, namely greater cross-border cooperation in the context of shared EU membership. Brexit would also mean that the generous EU funding that has oiled the settlement would dry up. So Brexit would further jeopardise the already-shaky power-sharing structure in Belfast, and significantly increase the risk of a return to sectarian violence in the North. The cooperation between London and Dublin to bring peace to Northern Ireland is only one example of how shared EU membership has replaced the often-contentious bilateral relations between member states with the interaction of partners. Such interaction is not always free of friction, and is often competitive. But it is always informed by the need to settle problems through negotiation and compromise, with a bias towards cooperative outcomes. If Britain chooses to terminate that relationship with the other 27 EU members – to make itself a “foreign country” – what incentive will Spain have to moderate its campaign to recover Gibraltar? Or France to continue to allow the British (in what might reasonably be viewed as a violation of sovereignty) to operate their border controls on French soil? Trade: size matters The attraction of “unshackling from the corpse” lies in lies in the perception that the UK needs to reorient its trade away from the low-growth EU towards booming emerging economies. But that is what the whole of Europe wants, too – the skies over Beijing are black with the planes of visiting European leaders and business delegations. The real point to consider is whether this reorientation will work better for the UK as part of the EU, or as a lone wolf. Globalisation has universalised trade. It has also, counterintuitively, balkanised the global trading regime. As emerging economic powers have become readier to challenge the old, Western-dominated system, the World Trade Organization is increasingly deadlocked – resulting in a global race to substitute a cat’s cradle of bilateral, regional, and plurilateral arrangements.... The temptation to hunker down behind the Channel is nothing new. It took Churchill’s leadership to induce us to resist it in 1939, and that moment has been the single most important element in our national identity since. The accompanying tendency to nostalgia, and sense of British exceptionalism, has not always been constructive. But with it has gone a belief that “British values”, whatever exactly they may be, do not sit easily with an “I’m alright, Jack” isolationism. The Ins will be right to argue that in the twenty-first century those values, as much as economic self interest, require us to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to a leadership role within the EU".Nick Witney "Brexit to Nowhere: the Foreign Policy Consequences of 'out'". European Council on Foreign Relations. 5 November 2015, in www.ecfr.eu
"One of the central arguments of the campaign for the UK to leave the EU is that it will liberate the country to strike out and forge a global trading presence on its own. Once the dead hand of EU protectionism is lifted from the country of David Ricardo and Adam Smith, so the argument goes, the UK can sign trade deals around the world, notably with the US and the rising economies of Asia. This glorious vision of a free-trading future hit a snag this week when Michael Froman, the US trade representative, dismissed the notion that Washington would be eager to sign an Anglospheric bilateral deal. Mr Froman said that the UK would have a bigger voice in trade talks as part of the EU than on its own; and that if it left the bloc it would subject to the same US tariffs as the likes of China and India".Leader, "Brexit and the delusions of new free-trade deals". The Financial Times. 30 October 2015, in www.ft.com. The two above referenced recent items: an in depth analysis by Mr. Witney for the European Council on Foreign Relations and the last week's leader in the Financial Times, underline how dubious is the entire set of arguments made by those individuals who are arguing for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. Which is not to say that British membership in that organization is hardly a bed of roses for anyone on either side of the Channel. But as a practical matter, Great Britain of to-day is hardily in a position to stand on its own feet outside of the European Union. A significant amount of inward investment into the UK is based upon the premise that the UK is and will be a member of the European Union. As soon as that fact changes, then a good amount of the inward investment stream will rather quickly dry-up. Similarly, it is foolhardy in the extreme to anticipate that once the UK votes to exit the European Union, that the latter will be greatly interested in negotiating trade and investment pacts which will make UK's life outside of the EU comfortable. Once again: this is not to gainsay that there are good arguments against UK membership in the EU. Merely that these arguments are of an emotional and or historical nature. Such arguments by definition do not take into account either geopolitical or economic facts. Not to mention the likely political turbulence caused to the UK internally. With a good likelihood of another referendum on Scottish independence. In short if the UK wishes to jump off into economic and political wilderness and irrelevance then nothing could do that better than voting to leave the European Union.