June 10, 2016
What after Brexit?
With two weeks to go until Brexit polling day, none of the sides have yet pulled ahead. This morning we noted an analysis by Nicholas Vinocur and Tara Palmeri who have spoken to French officials, MPs, and MEPs, who all seem to demand a relatively tough response to the UK in the case of a Brexit vote. As a matter of policy, we no longer recite quotes from unnamed EU diplomats because we think it is unethical for news organisations to allow their sources to hide behind the whole of the EU as opposed to specific institutions like the Commission or the Council. They might have spoken to the Maltese cultural attache in Cyprus for all we know. Apart from anonymous sources, this particular story also quotes Elisabeth Guigou, the head of the foreign affairs committee of the French National Assembly, as saying that the French position was not one of punitive logic, but that France would nevertheless insist that Brexit should have serious consequences in order to fight the centrifugal political forces in the EU. Britain would have to exit from all EU treaties according to Sylvie Goulard MEP, who added that Brexit would specifically have to involve the end of all passporting rights, also for financial services.
The question of the future relationship of a post-Brexit Britain with the EU was the subject of a debate between Charles Grand and John Springford, both of the Centre for European Reform in London. Grant argues that a post-Brexit UK would join the EEA, alongside Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. Grant notes that 70% of MPs are opposed to Brexit. They would still honour the referendum result, but they would insist on the economically least damaging arrangement which would be the EEA.
Springford argues that as an EEA member Britain would have even less sovereignty than it has as a full EU member. If a new government, under Boris Johnson for example, were to present the EEA option to parliament, pro-European Labour and Scottish Nationalist MPs would have a strong incentive to vote against, to bring down the government, with the Tories split down the middle. The result would be another referendum with a three-way option including the EEA, but the EEA would almost certainly attract the fewest votes.
And finally, in a column on the immigration debate, Owen Jones explains why Jeremy Corbyn is so lukewarm in his support for Remain. The Labour Party is still sore about lining up with the Tories in support of Scotland in the UK, which caused a massive loss of Labour voters to UKIP in the last elections. They do not want to see a repeat of that.