So far, the Britain Stronger in Europe (BSE) campaign has claimed that, in the event of Britain’s EU exit, people and businesses based in the remaining EU Member States would all refuse to trade with people and businesses based in Britain, thereby cutting themselves off from one of the world’s wealthiest consumer markets. Why anybody would behave in such an irrational and self-defeating manner is not something that the Remainers ever explain.
Not only that. In the event of Britain’s EU exit, according to the Remainers, the EU institutions and the remaining EU Member States would refuse to co-operate in matters of security and defence. The form that this would take is never specified, and quite why the rest of the EU would choose to cut itself off from GCHQ, Mi5 and Mi6 is difficult, if not impossible, to fathom.
Cross border scientific co-operation would also suffer, the Remainers say. In the event of Britain’s EU exit, the EU would spurn opportunities to work with world-leading researchers at Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, Aberdeen and elsewhere in the UK. Once again – why?
Some of the claims the Remainers make about the consequences of leaving are quite serious and require serious answers (others are just ridiculous), but every single one of them works both ways. That is why the Treaty on European Union allows for a minimum specified period of two years to negotiate an exit agreement with any succeeding state. The EU institutions bind themselves to host countries in a manner that is challenging to reverse, but that does not mean that the process is impossible, it simply takes more time than many of us would like.
Indeed, with sufficient political will, good faith, and a willingness to compromise, it is conceivable that a new relationship for Britain with the EU, trading and working together in areas of mutual interest, but shorn of the burdens of political union that are incumbent upon all EU Member States and which Britain singularly does not want, would be better for everybody.
Brexit is an opportunity for real, meaningful political change in Europe.