How the British Can Leave the EU

, Spencer Irvine, Leave a comment

This probably won’t be covered in many International Relations courses.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) issued a study that outlines a roadmap for the United Kingdom’s (UK) exit from the European Union (EU), entitled “Cutting the Gordian Knot: A Roadmap for British Exit from the European Union.” Authors Iain Murray and Rory Broomfield provide a step-by-step guide on how the UK can leave the EU.

The foreword was written by the former private secretary of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Sir Mark Worthington, who noted that “the British people have chosen for themselves” a future where “they are firmly in control.” He hoped that with ‘Brexit,’ the United Kingdom “has a dynamic and exciting future, one which it now controls for itself.” For too long, “decision making in Britain has been supplanted over the decades by the institutions of the European Union,” he said, “[showing] the limitations we have come to accept on our freedom to legislate and regulate for ourselves.”

The study calculated that EU regulation could be costing the British between $171 billion to $712 billion per year, and cited a think tank called Open Europe that discovered the top 100 EU regulations depleted the UK economy by $43 billion per year. Admitting that some claims of ‘Brexit’ were overstated, Murray and Broomfield went on to cite Open Europe and agreed with the think tank that the UK economy would save hundreds of billions by exiting the EU.

The study gave a brief historical background of how the UK joined the predecessor of the EU, known as the European Community (or “Community” as the authors call it), and how it evolved from an exclusive economic zone to what the EU is today: a quasi-economic and political bureaucratic government with seven primary institutions: the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the European Court of Auditors.

Murray and Broomfield advise British leaders to first invoke Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union. Then the Prime Minister must present a bill to Parliament that would repeal laws that established UK’s EU membership. Then Parliament must review EU laws incorporated into UK domestic laws to determine which laws should stay and which ones should be repealed. The CEI analysts suggested combining the latter two into a simple repeal bill to make things much easier for Parliament. Both authors argue that isolationist policies, in light of the UK’s exit from the EU, would be disastrous for the free market and UK economy.

The reason behind invoking Article 50 is to start the clock, so to speak, on formal negotiations for the UK’s exit, but it also avoids the messy possibility of the EU citing Article 60 of the Vienna Convention. Article 60 stipulated immediate sanctions can be levied against a party that is unilaterally breaching a treaty, as in UK’s case, breaching its membership in the EU.

As far as voter’s economic concerns go, the study made a good argument that the UK’s exit opens the possibility of gaining a favorable trade deal with the EU. Currently, “the EU has 42 different trade deals with countries from Mexico to South Korea to South Africa,” and the international body is “willing to negotiate based on a case-by-case basis.” The authors noted that the annual trade deficit between the UK and EU is $82 billion and would therefore give the UK a stronger position to negotiate a trade deal, possibly making it “the EU’s largest trade agreement with an outside nation.” Also, because of the UK’s membership in the EU, the UK “has all the necessary rules in place needed to trade with the EU.”

But, they were quick to note that there was one major difference between entering into a free trade agreement and entering into an economic cooperative zone with the EU. Murray and Broomfield found that entering into an economic cooperative zone with the EU would not guarantee more autonomy for the UK over the freedom of movement of people into the UK. The EU would not want to open the floodgates and have other countries rush to leave the EU to get the immigration autonomy concession. Instead, the study pushed for rejecting the UK’s entrance into an economic cooperative zone and reinforced the viability of negotiating a free trade agreement in order to preserve autonomy over immigration.

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