The UK voted in the Referendum by a very narrow margin the leave the EU. But it is not as simple as that. The process of leaving begins when the UK writes formally to the EU, specifically commencing the process set out in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The Referendum is technically not binding on Parliament, the overwhelming majority of MPs preferring Britain to stay in the EU. The Prime Minister, Mr Cameron, has said he will step down for a new leader of the Conservative Party to be appointed, sometime in the Autumn, and he will not invoke Article 50, believing that this should be done by the new Prime Minister.
The leader of the “Out” side, Mr Johnson has said that he believes that the EU and the UK will retain access to each other’s markets. Mr Johnson adds that “Immigration was not the main issue in the Referendum” and a spokesman for Mrs Merkel has already commented that access to the EU Market for the UK is perfectly possible if the UK pays a contribution to the costs of the market in a similar way to Norway. Incidentally, this model also involves, for all practical purposes, free movement of people. Then what is going to change I hear you ask, and my opinion is “Not very much” The UK and the EU will continue to be effectively a free trade area, there will be movement of people and the UK will contribute to the costs.
What the UK will not have is oversight by the European Parliament, any prospect of being dragged into the Euro, and no involvement in the EU concept of “Ever closer union”. Now comes the question of how, if they wished, could the Members of Parliament find a way to override the Referendum decision? It is actually quite easy, and that is to force a General Election, before Article 50 is invoked, with a specific policy to remain in the EU. That would democratically negate the Referendum result as the winning side would have a specific mandate from the electorate.
But there are other issues. Clearly there is some dissatisfaction in the UK with how the EU is managed, and the perception of how this impacts on their daily lives. But the people of the UK are not alone in this feeling; there are a number of other EU countries where there are growing political movements looking for change. Politicians will need to recognise that they are out of touch with the desires and aspiration of their populations, both at a national and European wide level, and further that this isolation of the political classes must stop if the dreams and ideals which created what is now the EU are to survive. If Britain leaves without a sensible and realistic trade deal in place it will take with it the second largest contribution to the EU budget, which will force major and undoubtedly unwelcome changes to many EU programmes. And it will start other similar “exit” demands in other countries.
Can Britain stand alone outside the EU? Well yes. Britain is less dependent on trade with the EU than any other major European country. It has the 5th largest economy in the world. Whatever its status it cannot be ignored, and others will still want, and indeed need, to trade with it. It is my belief that common sense will prevail, that Britain and the EU will trade together as they have before, that people will move freely amongst the countries of Europe, and that Britain will continue to make a strong contribution, both politically and financially, to European life. And maybe, just maybe, if all sides engage in a positive way, then considerable good can come out of this.
Written by Martin Williams, Managing Director of EBS.
4 thoughts on “Brexit – what next? (guest article by my friend Martin Williams of European Business Solutions)”
Thanks for posting the article. It was most helpful.
Well said Mr Williams. I would just like to add to these thoughtful and balanced comments. It is my view that the EU has ever been a capitalist club having nothing at all to do with Angela Merkel’s somewhat näive comment about membership being a deterrent for future wars ; nor has it been a vehicle for the expansion and mix of cultural life or better political relationships between member states. It exists purely to support and enable powerful and wealthy buiness men and women to become even more (personally) powerful and wealthy.
America’s interest in the UK remaining a member of the European Union rests on their need to more easily manipulate european member states via its foothold in the UK. Nothing will change in that regard. The whole concept of Europe is relatively new as pointed out by professor Norman Davis in his book on the subject. His standpoint seems to be that Europe is not the same thing as the European union. Looking at Europe as a Federation of similar cultures, aspirations, sociology, science and technology then most of the UK population would probably have voted to remain a part. What they voted against was a closer integration (read control by Brussels) of the UK into the European Union. The French and Swedish press suggest that many of their citizens feel the same way. They, together with the UK, would like to see greater co-operation between countries within Europe whilst retaining their own national identities and control. It seems to me pragmatic and sensible for every country to have control of its own decision-making. This does not prevent them from having cultural and economic linkage and it preserves the distinctiveness of each country so that when citizens from one country music another they can appreciate and enjoy these differences.
I was not at all surprised that the UK media circus went into full swing during the run-up to the referendum to portray those wishing to leave the European Union has some type of fascist lunatics. Nigel Farage being presented as the devil incarnate merely because he has had a bellyfull of being dictated to by Brussels who are becoming ever more powerful and dictatorial in their impositions on member countries. If those wishing to remain within the European Union wish to look for fascist tendencies they need look no further than the European Parliament.
It needs to be stated loudly and clearly that the UK is not anti-European, and it wishes to co-operate with Europe and be considered as a european country. What it does not want is to be controlled from a building within Brussels by a group of european ministers that, by and large, do not represent the wishes of their citizens.
None of this, of course, has any impact on the political and financial bullying that continues (and will continue) to affect the globe whilst the USA thinks it has the right to police every nation on the planet. Hence their use of the “intellectual property rights” “argument” to Impose their economic will on any individual country or groups of countries that get in their way.
This is absolutely shameful and if the European Union cannot or will not oppose it then nobody (perhaps with the exception of China) can. Personally, I’m very alarmed when high-level American representatives state that despite the U.K.’s wish to leave the European Union they (the USA) will remain the close trading partner and ally that it has always been. With friends like that who needs enemies !
As of now readers are quite free to disagree with all or any part of my views (I cannot say for how much longer this freedom of expression will continue so I’m making the most of it).
I might not be entirely right, and I hope I am mistaken, but I fear not.
Terrible response to a terrible article Alan. It was a very unbalanced article. Author is a fool if he thinks there was just “some” dissatisfaction with the EU and that immigration didn’t matter.
Loved your rabid anti-Americanizm at the end. Intellectual Property just means that we are tired of having our technology stolen and our music and movies pirated.
As for policing the world. After being dragged into 2 world wars and then having to pay to rebuild Europe and Japan then protect it from the USSR we learned something. You people can’t be trusted. I guess it makes you made to find out we aren’t your dogs who only do what you say and keep quite otherwise. In WW1 I can understand fighting an evil empire trying to take over the world. But, why were we fighting on the side of one, Great Britain?
“Some” means some were unsatisfied. Some people would still be satisfied with immigration until Berber encampments started to appear on their lawns.
If you were really America, you would not write “-izm”. And you can calm right down as nobody has “stolen” “your” technology or music, or “movies”. They are still all there. We simply got tired of being made to watch ever increasing amounts of dishonest advertising to watch tchem or pay over the odds not to have to have our time wasted, so we would rather pay a fair price, and the technology, films and music are all still there by the way. We didn’t take any of them away. We didn’t tinker with them or change them, you know, like Americans do with the English language, we didn’t even dump tchem in the Hudson river like you did with our tea when you got tired of paying over the odds for that.
Your companies come and make sales and don’t respect EU laws or pay taxes properly. It is not the act of a friend.
In two world wars you could barely make up your minds which side to be on, entered late, did so for business reasons and cleaned up afterwards.
You paid the UK nothing after the war, we had to pay and you gave money to our competitors in Europe. We persudaded you after some time to create NATO, but now that NATO is no longer needed you keep going with it to stir up Russia because you don’t want Europe to be too close friends with a post-communist Russia. You do whatever you can to prevent Russia from every breaking free of the cold-war history.
Whatever Russia does now is a reasonable response given the utterly inadequate treatment of the West of the opportunity to get together that presented itself at the end of the cold war.
A UK which is strong and independent may have a much better relationship with Russia now than at any time in history.