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  1. With the rift growing between the EU (most countries anyway) and the UK, a British exit from the EU looks like a very real possibility. The discourse in the British press and more generally has changed in the last few weeks from this being a reasonably distant possibility, to a distinctly real one. I generally support staying in the EU but not without a significant change to the UK's relationship. Frankly I don't believe in the EU parliament, which I have no interest in and scant knowledge of what they do. I would much rather my nationally elected leaders (for better or worse) did my bidding in the EU because they are more immediately accountable. MEPs are not credible alternatives and I don't believe they ever could be an alternative / substitute in a Union with no common language. After a bit of reading around I've speculated about what the implications would be of "Brexit", but not just for the UK, also the EU as a whole. Here are my thoughts. The UK is projected to be the largest country in the EU by 2050 with a population of 77 million. We import more from the EU than we export and so the EU would spend more to trade with us than we do with them if the UK was outside of the single European market and tariffs were raised on either side along the lines of a standard OECD trading relationship. Germany for example exports far more to the UK than it imports (the UK is the 3rd largest export market for Germany) and frankly Ireland would be totally f*cked, not to mention the Netherlands. As a whole the EU economy would shrink by 15% with a UK exit. However, sitting outside the largest trading block in the world would mean decisions made in Brussels would continue to have a big impact on the UK economy regardless of whether we're in or out. Britain's place in the world economically and politically would undoubtedly be diminished. Its possible that we could lose our permanent seat on the UN security council for example and our relationship with the US would change to become far less "special". The UK is the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in the EU and this would likely go elsewhere, probably to Ireland and other northern European countries where English is more widely spoken. The departure of the UK and its significant military assets would leave the EU very weakened militarily and France would be the only remaining EU coutry capable of projecting power. Germany may have to reconsider its pacifist stance on defence matters to shore the EU up militarily against an increasingly hostile Russia. Politically, in the EU a British departure would move the balance of power (in voting terms at least) away from northern and western Europe to the Southern states. The idea that a UK departure would enable greater / easier EU integration is a very simplistic view of EU relations. Germany and the other net contributors would have to pay into the EU significantly more than they do now to maintain the current budget because the UK is the second largest net contributor after Germany. Germany is likely come under significant pressure to relax its drive for austerity and fiscal responsibility by a French led "Club Med" and to move towards economic risk pooling to support the Euro. The departure of the British would leave many small and medium sized northern countries, who tend to hide behind the UK's objections, very exposed. The French / German axis could either alienate other EU countries or it could be put under strain itself. Without the UK the unbalancing of power could lead to an EU which is fiscally and politically dominated even more by Germany which is, for historic reasons, a position neither the Germans or other Europeans want.
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