Exit plan: how Scotland and Northern Ireland can remain in the EU

stakesPublic discussions about how the UK is to exit from the European Union have been too simplified, and have failed to come up with any solution that recognises that only England and Wales in fact voted to leave. Brendan O’Leary, Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, outlines a way forward where those nations wanting to remain in the EU might be able to do so.

There has as yet been no Brexit, and there will not be – because there is no such entity as ‘Britain’. There could, however, be a UKexit. But those who insist that a 52-48 vote is good enough to take the entire UK out of the EU would trigger a serious crisis of legitimacy.

England and Wales have voted to leave the European Union, but Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Gibraltar have voted to remain. These differing outcomes have to be the central focus of political attention while we wait for the debris of broken expectations to settle. Continue reading

Brexit: The mother of all uncertainties

BrexitIn the aftermath of last week’s EU referendum, the only thing we can be certain of is uncertainty, writes Professor Paul Ekins, Director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, as he outlines two absolutely contrasting scenarios.

So the British people have voted by a margin of around 4%, a little more than 1 million votes, to leave the European Union (EU). Where this will lead lies somewhere between two absolutely contrasting scenarios.

On the positive side, we can imagine that the months before the election of the new British Prime Minister in October see some healing of the great divide that has opened up in the UK, a decision by Scotland not to pursue independence, and Sinn Féin not to pursue a referendum on Irish reunification, a steadying of the economy by the Bank of England and current Chancellor, and therewith a steadying in both the stock and currency markets. Then, in October or November, the new Prime Minister presses the button on Article 50, to be met by a conciliatory European Commission which, over time, makes it clear that UK Associate Membership of the Internal Single Market can indeed be accompanied by restrictions on EU freedom of movement and less need for the UK to implement EU legislation. This takes the heat out of the UK Brexit impulse, so that agreement on UK/EU terms of engagement, which involves minimal disruption to trade and investment, swiftly follows. Businesses and the financial sector heave a sigh of relief and get on with business as usual. The damage of Brexit to the UK and EU economies, and to the UK and EU politically, is minimal, far less than was forecast by practically everyone. ‘Experts’, especially economists, become the butt of more jokes. In five years’ time the UK’s position in Europe is a bit like Norway’s, but immigration has been restricted by the new curbs on freedom of movement. Leavers are delighted and say ‘I told you so’. Remainers are mightily relieved that the meltdown they feared has not occurred. The curbs on the freedom of movement of labour are used by other EU Member States to take the heat out of their populist movements. The ‘reformed’ EU continues more or less as before. Continue reading

Brave New World – first reflections on Brexit

farageThe UK has stepped back from Europe and stepped back from the world. Kirsty Hughes explains how in the process, the UK has done deep damage to itself, the EU and the wider world.

The shockwaves from England and Wales’ Brexit vote will reverberate and grow for months and years to come.

In the first few hours since the vote, there have been calls for a second Scottish independence referendum, for a vote on Irish reunification, for joint control of Gibraltar, Cameron’s resignation, the Labour right mounting a pre-planned attack on Corbyn, falling stock markets, falling pound and other currencies and more. Continue reading

The road to Brexit: 16 things you need to know about what will happen if we vote to leave the EU

GB_balloonAs 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