If Britain votes to leave the EU there will be consequences. That’s right. There has been a lot of talk among the Remain crowd about possible Brexit impacts—most of it spurious exaggeration—but as a blogger who is proud to call himself part of The Leave Alliance I feel that I have an obligation to write plainly about the future that would confront an independent Britain.
First of all, outside of the EU, Britain would be a self-governing country. That is, the people whom we elect to Parliament would have to account to the electorate for the policy decisions that they make. Britain would also recover power over key policy areas including trade, aid, agriculture, fisheries, energy and the environment. Imagine that.
Why is it that Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Japan can legislate and administrate their own affairs while Britain needs the input of 27 other nation-states and a Commission and Court that subordinate our national institutions to the will of a qualified majority of political leaders for whom we never vote and whom we cannot remove?
Moreover, post-exit Britain would no longer be bound by Article 34 of the Treaty on European Union, which really needs to be read to be believed:
1. Member States shall coordinate their action in international organisations and at international conferences. They shall uphold the Union’s positions in such forums. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall organise this coordination.
In international organisations and at international conferences where not all the Member States participate, those which do take part shall uphold the Union’s positions.
2. In accordance with Article 24(3), Member States represented in international organisations or international conferences where not all the Member States participate shall keep the other Member States and the High Representative informed of any matter of common interest.
Member States which are also members of the United Nations Security Council will concert and keep the other Member States and the High Representative fully informed. Member States which are members of the Security Council will, in the execution of their functions, defend the positions and the interests of the Union, without prejudice to their responsibilities under the provisions of the United Nations Charter.
When the Union has defined a position on a subject which is on the United Nations Security Council agenda, those Member States which sit on the Security Council shall request that the High Representative be invited to present the Union’s position.
This enormously far-reaching provision means that in international forums Britain is less than a self-governing country, removing as it does our right of reservation and opt-out in intergovernmental negotiations at the global level. This is a corruption of the collaborative and multilateral foundation upon which international trade and co-operation depends.
The urgent need to recover those vital democratic safeguards becomes all the more apparent when one observes the way in which globalisation is accelerating.
The sensible, pragmatic and practical choice is for Britain to leave the EU and rejoin EFTA to participate in the EEA (Single Market) agreement while permanently opting out of “ever closer union” and euro membership. Given that there are ever stronger hints that Britain taking that confident step into an EFTA/EEA type of arrangement is something that the EU would be willing to accept, Cameron and Osborne’s fantasy “special status” in a “reformed EU” is looking even more tawdry than it did to begin with.
Britain can continue to participate in the Single Market without accepting the political baggage that comes with EU membership and about which the Remainers are so reluctant to talk. That means no change to the regulatory environment at the point of Brexit and no economic shock. In economic terms, it means preserving the status quo.
Plus the convergence of Single Market rules and international standards under the auspices of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, facilitated by the Vienna and Dresden agreements, protects our say in the standards-making process and allows us a right of reservation and the ability to opt-out, neither of which are available to any EU Member State, bound as they are by the compromise position agreed among the EU27.