Sunday, April 24, 2016

Brexit to Nowhere

We are now beginning to see political ads running on the television because Indiana’s primary is coming up soon. While I was visiting my parents this afternoon, a series of them came on and I complained to my father that we were going to be subjected to this until November.

“The UK is going to have two campaigns over and done with by the time our campaign season is done!”

Normally my dad doesn’t concern himself with foreign politics so he surprised me when he asked me if I was referring to Brexit. If you don’t know, the United Kingdom is holding a referendum in June. Voters will decide whether they want to exit the European Union or remain a member.

President Obama recently weighed in on the issue and is urging the UK to stay. Usually I would rather not have us meddling in the political affairs of another country just as I would not want another country meddling in ours. I do think that this is a special case though.

My Dad probably can’t find much common ground with President Obama but all three of this are pretty much on the same page. The UK would not do well to leave the European Union. Let’s take it from the American perspective. The US has been pursuing trade agreements in Asia (Trans-Pacific Partnership) and in Europe (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). The President is quite right to say that a seceding UK would be put on a back burner as the US would be looking to these two larger markets. Sure, a lone UK could secure a free trade agreement and perhaps bring about an economic Anglosphere. However the agreements with Canada (NAFTA) and Australia (AUSFTA) took the US years to negotiate and finally ratify.

Then there are the uncertainty issues that an exit would create. What does it say about EU integration? What are the repercussions? 

As an American, it actually puzzles me as to the reasons why the UK wants to leave the EU. I think that the biggest argument is that Brussels is riding roughshod over their interests. If that is the case, isn’t that more of the UK’s fault than the EU’s? The UK is the third largest member of the EU after Germany and France. When it comes to the table, it has a large voice and it’s not like it hasn’t used its weight to carve out special deals for itself. Now, however, the UK punches way below its weight when it comes to manipulating policy in the EU. It shows up but it doesn’t play the game. The Brits have the potential to be a super player in EU, directing and shaping the largest economic and political union in the world. Why would they want to walk away from it?

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