As the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU draws closer, the result is impossible to predict. Many are asking what, in practical terms, would happen if we vote for Brexit. Alan Renwick, Deputy Director of the UCL Constitution Unit, explored some key elements of the withdrawal process before the referendum campaign began. Here, he gives a point-by-point overview of what the road to Brexit might look like.
The effect of the referendum
1. We will not immediately leave the EU if the result on 24 June shows a majority for Brexit. Indeed, in purely legal terms, the referendum result has no effect at all: the vote is advisory, so, in principle, the government could choose to ignore it. In political terms, however, ministers could not do that. We should presume that a vote to leave means that we will leave (see point 16) – though there is scope for various complications along the way. Continue reading
Two of the currently most popular hashtags on Twitter reflect Britain’s debate on whether to leave the EU (#Brexit) and the possibility of Greece leaving the euro (#Grexit). But although they differ only by their first letter, those two topics are by no means the same. In this post, Filipa Figueira, Teaching Fellow in Economics at UCL, explores how the two are nonetheless closely linked and how addressing one may help resolve the other.
A decision on being part of the European Union is very different from a decision on being part of a common currency. Although the word ‘euro’ makes the common currency sound like a core aspect of ‘Europeanness’, it is in fact only one of the EU’s many policies. And, as the British example shows, it is perfectly possible to be an EU member without participating in the euro currency.
Yet confusion reigns. When, in early July, a Greek exit of the euro seemed possible, many jumped to the conclusion that the country would need to leave the European Union too. This included, for example, the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz – who really should know better, as that would of course not have been the case.
Swee Leng Harris and Justine Stefanelli, Research Fellows in Law at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, take a look at the diverging attitudes within the Conservative Party towards EU membership and reform, and how some of these are directly at odds with those of party leader and Prime Minister, David Cameron. How might this lack of internal agreement impact on the Conservative Party both domestically in the referendum campaign, and internationally when negotiating with other EU member states?
Political parties in the UK, and the different interests within those parties, are starting to clarify their positions for the in-out EU referendum, and the arguments that will be ubiquitous throughout the upcoming campaign are beginning to materialize. This is especially important for parliamentarians who will need to align themselves with differing and specific positions. Among the first viewpoints to emerge are those from three Conservative MPs who put their views forward in a publication for Politeia entitled ‘Britain and the EU: What Must Change?’. Speaking at a launch event on 18 June 2015, Bernard Jenkin, the Rt Hon John Redwood and Sir Bill Cash called for fundamental changes to the UK’s relationship with the EU. The one hour launch event organised by Politeia and held in the Houses of Parliament was attended by politicians, Westminster insiders, journalists and civil society. The three authors each spoke in some detail, advocating for the need for fundamental changes as set out in the publication, followed by a brief period for questions from the audience.
As David Cameron begins negotiations for EU reform in earnest, Neill Nugent, Emeritus Professor of Politics at Manchester Metropolitan University, examines the challenges in identifying the measures that will be acceptable for the remaining 27 EU member states, whilst still delivering the changes Cameron has promised the British electorate.
The referendum promised for 2016/17 on UK membership of the European Union is, like its 1975 predecessor on UK membership of the European Community, a consequence of domestic party politics. It is being held not because David Cameron genuinely wishes to consult the British people, but rather because he was pressurised into making the promise of a referendum by rising Eurosceptism within his own party, the UKIP challenge, and electoral opportunism.
Having made the promise, he clearly wants the British people to vote to remain members of the EU. He does so not because of any deeply held European commitment but rather because he has increasingly recognised the damage withdrawal could cause to the British economy and to Britain’s standing in the world.