Forget Vote Leave and Vote Remain. Wasn’t Britain sort of withdrawn from the European Union already?
They have been prior to the referendum and the 2015 general election which, by promising to hold this referendum, is how David Cameron re-won a majority in the UK parliament. Consider the two things everyone thinks of when they travel to the 28-member EU:
- The Euro. In 1992 the Maastricht treaty was built on the idea of a common-market, that one currency would be easy to travel and spend with amongst several countries without need for multiple money exchanges.
- The Schengen area. Similar to the Euro, the idea in 1995 was to create free and easy movement around most of the tight-knit union. No passports and no internal border controls once you’re inside.
24 of the 28 countries participate in at least one of these major programs. The four that don’t? Eastern Europe – Romania, Bulgaria, & lonely Cyprus – and the United Kingdom. The UK didn’t want any part of either, so they drafted contractual clauses to opt themselves out. If you’re an EU citizen and come to Britain, you’ll have to show your passport to an immigration officer and go through customs like every other foreigner. And those Euros you’re coming with won’t be accepted.
Britain has never been fully invested in the EU. But if in fact the vote to Remain prevails over Leave, which is what late-inning polls say right now, Britain will be even less in the EU. This is because Cameron struck an EU reform deal which will give his country “special” status in the union. It included:
- A firm reiteration that Britain will never use the Euro,
- Protection for the City of London’s financial industry both against imposition of Eurozone regulations and against discrimination from Brussels for British companies,
- Reduction of migrant welfare payments (a big reason why UK immigration levels are so high) and only being able to send child benefit payments back to their home country for the cost-of-living amount in that country,
- An easier path for national parliaments to unite in blocking unwanted legislation, affirming a commitment that Britain will not be part of an “ever closer [European] union”.
This deal is also a catalyst for the dissolution of the EU, which will in turn be another modern day example of how socialism fails. The EU was always a socialist concept: every country is an equal member regardless of how much in fees they contribute and take. Yet Britain – along with the better off economies of Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Austria, and Scandanavia – give to the EU absurdly more in membership fees and receive absurdly less in return than the likes of debt-ridden Greece or Hungary do, who have it exactly the opposite (remember Grexit last year?). Holding “special” status violates the concept of EU socialism, because no country is supposed to be better than another.
Undoubtedly EU membership is a fiscally bad deal for the UK and co. and a great one for Greece and co. Besides, Britain has always been only half-interested in being in the EU as shown by lack of participation in the Euro, the Schengen area, and other programs. They should pack up their bags and save £18 billion in pointless membership fees. Vote Leave has been campaigning on that point relentlessly, and right now is a great time for a Brexit to happen. Exiting the EU is much easier for Great Britain to do than, say, Austria, because of its geographical isolation. Britain’s distancing from the rule of Brussels mirrors the U.S.’s lack of involvement with the League of Nations. Let the coalition be set up, but stay out of it yourselves.
Economists have predicted short-term volatility in the UK’s financial markets if they decide to leave. But that’s merely an adjustment period for any country that undergoes major political changes. In fact, world economic growth is so anemic that countries are imposing negative interest rates (the German bund dipped into negative territory last week), and the IMF continues to slash their global growth forecast, so how worse could a Brexit really make things? It’d be a different story if it would sour a roaring economy growing at 3-4%.
If the UK leaves the EU, they will leave for good. But if they decide to stay, they will enjoy special EU status beginning Friday morning, solidifying what was already their de facto standing in the EU. Britain will be both further isolated from the EU no matter how the country votes and closer to a permanent departure at some point in time.
The European Union’s days are numbered. Grexit, Brexit… the next _ _exit is sure to come. Who will it be next time?