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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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As much as I would love to see the UK flip the bird at the EU...the reason why Europe is stable is because of the UK in it. Hard to believe 40 years ago the UK was reluctantly accepted even though it was well and truly the sick man by 1979. After a good Thatcherite kick in the pants and pulling up of the socks, a generation later it's the financial powerhouse. It could easily go it alone in the free market world it help create.

So if it goes either way...dammed if it do, dammed if it don't.

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I suspect the UK will leave the EU, ithink its a 60/40 probability following the recent events. I can't see France allowing the UK to remain in the EU on a renegotiated basis. The British press are so scathing of the EU that its hard to see how the public would deliver anything else but a NO to continued membership in a the referendum. It also looks like all the main political parties are moving towards supporting a referendum now with Labour's main financial backers applying pressure to them to support a referendum.

I think any yes campaign to stay in would be seriously out-gunned by what is a very vitrioloic "No" campaign that is already up and running. This would certainly be the case if as I predict, Cameron fails to renegotiate our membership and the future Tory Government recommends NO.

I doubt most Europeans will really give this much thought unless Cameron is returned to Power next year which is 50/50. I don't get the impression that the implications for the EU of Brexit have really been considered much; rather the emphasis in their debate until now has been on how much the UK stands to lose from leaving.

Edited by Ripley
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I actually think we're more likely to stay in the EU than leave, mainly because I'm far from convinced the two main anti-European forces in domestic politics will be strong enough to get us out after the general election. To be able to guarantee his referendum pledge, Cameron needs a majority of his own. I'm far from convinced he'll get one and I don't see a realistic coalition that allows him to make good on the pledge. Similarly, I don't yet see UKIP's European election success translating into Westminster seats.

You're right to suggest that, if we do get to a referendum, any pro-Europe campaign has a mountain to climb against the media voices that will be lining up to promote the anti-Europe side, but we're a long way off from that yet.

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  • 1 month later...

I support the idea of leaving the EU. My reasons for this are that leaving the EU would bring back more power to our Government and more power back to our courts. It would remove the European Court of Human Rights from here and our courts can decide the appropriate action for criminals. We would have more control of our borders (I don't mind others coming here to better themselves, but we can't have the issues China are having with over population, plus alot of existing people here in England need jobs, homes, money etc. I am anti-EU, but I know alot of pro-EU supporters will try and persuade me, but I just don't buy anything good about the EU. It's my personal opinion anyway and I've heard that support for leaving the EU is growing, which I find excellent. Other reasons I believe we should leave the EU are:

- We would have more trade freedom.

- Leaving the EU could create up to 1 Million Jobs around the Country.

- England/Britain would gain full control of our borders, which is a basic right for every Country IMO. Again, I like the idea of others coming here to better themselves and their Families, but there has to be some sort of restriction.

- Tax prices would lower, as the EU currently has some control over our tax.

- We can control our criminals and give more appropriate punishments to criminals, without the EU interfering.

- Prices would go down for most things, Food, Water, Electricity, Rent etc.

I think all Countries should have control of their Countries. Immigration is fine, as long as it's controlled. I don't like the EU controlling us. Just my opinion.

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In the British context, I think the issue is far more fundamental than trade or sovereignty or any individual factor. It is a simple question of consent and the fact that you have to be 57 years of age to be have asked to give one's direct consent, or otherwise, to our continued membership of the European institution. There has always been a Euro-sceptic element within British politics, but I believe it has been fueled over the years as much by the unwillingness of the political elite to give us, the voters, a say, as by anything else. The referendum the Tories are proposing for 2017 is one that should settle this issue once and for all and, frankly, it should have happened years ago.

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As much as I would love to see the UK flip the bird at the EU...the reason why Europe is stable is because of the UK in it. Hard to believe 40 years ago the UK was reluctantly accepted even though it was well and truly the sick man by 1979. After a good Thatcherite kick in the pants and pulling up of the socks, a generation later it's the financial powerhouse. It could easily go it alone in the free market world it help create.

So if it goes either way...dammed if it do, dammed if it don't.

Just to lay down the timetable.... Thatcher leaves office in 1990, the UK economy is very weak but accepted into the EU, economy explodes.

Now people can argue that Thatcher made the tough choices that eventurally led to that growth. But you can't just argue that the UK economy is so strong now it no longer needs the EU, without at least acknowledging the role the EU has played in the economic growth.

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A point of historical fact, first of all. We had been in the EC as it was then for nearly 18 years by the time Mrs Thatcher left office.

I don't think anyone arguing for an exit is saying "we don't need Europe". What they're saying is we don't need everything that goes with it.

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Hahahah can't wait to watch the UK wither in isolation if they're stoopid enough to leave the EU. When your only "ally" on your recent line in the sand is Orban, you're in trouble.

Many things about the EU that are problematic and should be remedied. And there's a lot of interest in that, across the Union. But taking your toys away and playing on your own will be very lonely, boring and unpleasant rather quickly. Especially for all the UK businesses that rely on the free movement of people and goods. And all the UK citizens living and working in other EU countries. All that awesome, affordable, diverse food in Tescos will rapidly become unaffordable for many. I

Leaving will mean leaving.

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I don't think anyone arguing for an exit is saying "we don't need Europe". What they're saying is we don't need everything that goes with it.

I do think there's such people (hello UKIP). And in a partnership, cherry-picking won't work in the long run. If you want to enjoy the advantages, you may have to live with the disadvantages (or what you perceive as such), too. Otherwise it's really better to get out and face the consequences.

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You've missed my point. It's not about cherry-picking, as you put it. It's about the idea that the institution has changed and the people have not been given the chance to say whether they like it or not. My parents are in their early 60s, and so were able to vote in the 1975 in or out referendum. But for a lot of people of that generation, and this goes to the very heart of UKIP's appeal, the European institution we are part of today is nothing like what they gave their consent for this country to remain in. There is a perception, rightly or wrongly, that too much of what happens in this country is dictated by Europe. That perception has existed for more than 20 years that I can remember and it has never been properly addressed by the political establishment. That is why UKIP exists.

Your remarks appear to speak for the establishment that doesn't want to engage with those issues. But if you really believe in the concept of a European institution, then they have to be tackled and resolved sooner rather than later. The European elections showed increasing dissatisfaction, not just in Britain, with the workings of the EU. If the politicians don't listen, those voices will just grow louder and louder. Dismiss them at your peril.

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There's lots of issues with the EU that need tackling. As long as I can remember though, being born in the mid 70s, the various UK governments did not seem to show much interest in tackling these issues constructively but just indeed trying to pick the cherries from the otherwise rotten cake.

I wonder if there was ever an honest debate about pros and cons all those years instead of making Brussels the scapegoat for one's own shortcomings. This is not a UK exclusive attitude though, certain parts of Germany's political landscape know that game only too well also.

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In reality the EU is the Eurozone - there's no need for the UK to be "in" the EU. Surely this was inevitable. The Eurozone countries now need to move to a full political union or the Euro will fail. Germany will have to accept shared debt and France will have to accept non French law makers creating social policy and such like - there's no alternative unless the Euro is scrapped. I think the UK leaving the EU will assist this and untangle us from a complex and messy relationship which is dysfunctional for everyone. The UK will not leave Europe but we can force some issues by leaving the EU and create a new connected but more distant relationship.

I think the UK is big enough and we have a history and confidence in our democratic values and institutions which is far greater than any yearning to be part of a European political project. I think that the UK asks awkward questions and in the past has enjoyed acting as a balance between the Franco-German juggernaut and the smaller countries but I don't think continmuing in that role is necessarily sustainable or desirable from a UK perspective. Its now time for the Eurozone to face some harsh truths and the UK is a distraction to that.

I would like to see the UK be a committed European country on the outside of the EU, but also to "pivot" and build better trading relationships beyond the EU too. We would continue to be part of NATO and to contribute towards the defence of Europe, without necessarily being responsible or contributing towards any kind of EU defence force or Energy policy.

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I support the idea of leaving the EU. My reasons for this are that leaving the EU would bring back more power to our Government and more power back to our courts. It would remove the European Court of Human Rights from here and our courts can decide the appropriate action for criminals. We would have more control of our borders (I don't mind others coming here to better themselves, but we can't have the issues China are having with over population, plus alot of existing people here in England need jobs, homes, money etc. I am anti-EU, but I know alot of pro-EU supporters will try and persuade me, but I just don't buy anything good about the EU. It's my personal opinion anyway and I've heard that support for leaving the EU is growing, which I find excellent. Other reasons I believe we should leave the EU are:

- We would have more trade freedom.

- Leaving the EU could create up to 1 Million Jobs around the Country.

- England/Britain would gain full control of our borders, which is a basic right for every Country IMO. Again, I like the idea of others coming here to better themselves and their Families, but there has to be some sort of restriction.

- Tax prices would lower, as the EU currently has some control over our tax.

- We can control our criminals and give more appropriate punishments to criminals, without the EU interfering.

- Prices would go down for most things, Food, Water, Electricity, Rent etc.

I think all Countries should have control of their Countries. Immigration is fine, as long as it's controlled. I don't like the EU controlling us. Just my opinion.

Well now we know where you lie on party lines. Can I call you the ukiper?

The EU has always reminded me of The League of Nations. In order for the EU to become better it must fail first, but I agree with the notion that the UK's power would seriously be diminished if it left the EU.

In reality the EU is the Eurozone - there's no need for the UK to be "in" the EU. Surely this was inevitable. The Eurozone countries now need to move to a full political union or the Euro will fail. Germany will have to accept shared debt and France will have to accept non French law makers creating social policy and such like - there's no alternative unless the Euro is scrapped. I think the UK leaving the EU will assist this and untangle us from a complex and messy relationship which is dysfunctional for everyone. The UK will not leave Europe but we can force some issues by leaving the EU and create a new connected but more distant relationship.

THIS

The UK leaving the EU will only force Europe to become almost one massive nation or end the project all together. Personally I would like to see Europe be more like the US in terms of structure and design, but I doubt something like that would ever happen.

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I suspect that trying to emulate the US is not really possible in political terms. I suppose it may be worth a try but after 60 years if it's not happened yet then I doubt many Europeans will have endless patience to stumble our way there in this agonising and acrimonious fashion. Just do it now or forever hang in political and economic limbo. The truth is I don't think people actually want it unless their vision is the one that prevails. Trouble is there are too many competing visions and too much cultural baggage to deal with.

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I suspect that trying to emulate the US is not really possible in political terms. I suppose it may be worth a try but after 60 years if it's not happened yet then I doubt many Europeans will have endless patience to stumble our way there in this agonising and acrimonious fashion. Just do it now or forever hang in political and economic limbo. The truth is I don't think people actually want it unless their vision is the one that prevails. Trouble is there are too many competing visions and too much cultural baggage to deal with.

That is the biggest conflict and quite honestly I could never imagine a world without a France, German, etc. Team. I think Europe needs some type of neutral voice to rise up and propose some type of compromise. After all compromise is how we got the US...

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It's sad that the EU, which has been such a successful co-operation project is viewed this badly in parts of europe incl. UK.

Generation Erasmus is growing up and younger people and politicians in continental europe (even in my own country, which has voted 'no' twice due to historical traumas with unions) are increasingly confident in thinking in european terms.

My belief is that neither the UK nor the EU will benefit from this, and a successful brexit no matter how absurd it sounds, will be the victory of negative energy over positive energy, of nationalism over co-operation and of noise over reason.

The euroskepticism is undoubtedly linked with the financial crisis and especially with that in the eurozone which carries extra symbolic value. This crisis will eventually be overcome, but the economically unwise decision to call on unnecessarily tough austerity measures (in 7 words: downtimes? = short term spending, long term sustainability) will postpone the recovery and the economic level of development will at a given point in time be lower than it could have been, had the sounder policy been adopted. This has little to do with the EU, but more to do with the political beliefs that are held in national offices.

Realistically, I'd be very surprised if the political establishment in the UK is mentally ready for an exit and everything that comes along, despite what Cameron communicates..,

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@scholaosloensis

Its less and less about austerity for the UK - our economy is growing strongly at last. Its far more about feeling like an outsider anyway because of the existence of the Eurozone. We are well aware we did this to ourselves for reasons which are clear to see today, but we are where we are and the key point is that for many Brits being a member of the EU no longer makes as much sense as it once did. I continue to be very pro EU but I just think the UK membership of it is increasingly meaningless and we could have a more constructive relationship with our European partners outside of the EU. The UK will never adopt the Euro and its the Eurozone that needs to unite more without the UK distracting them from this desperately required step. The mistake that many make is that they think the EU is "Europe".... its not. I have no idea if the British public will vote to leave in a referendum but I think its more likely than not given the prevailing mood in the UK about the EU. I support having a referendum and will remain open minded until I hear the views of both sides but I, as a very moderate minded person with no intention of ever supporting UKIP, am leaning towards leaving... this surprises me because I have always been pro EU over the years. Frankly if I'm thinking along these lines then the UK's membership of the EU is seriously in doubt.

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It's about a short-sighted, ignorant view on "immigration". I'm stunned at the number of Brits who whinge about harder working Eastern Europeans doing this faster and to a higher standard, but crow about how awesome all that French cheese is in Tesco's. Or how lovely it is to visit their parents the snowbirds living in Spain.

The UK suffers the educational deficit of most anglophone cultures: an unwillingness to properly teach other languages, which would create a bilingual (or multilingual) generation in less than 20 years. The UK, US, Australia, NZ and (to lesser, but still significant extent) Canada fail miserably at this. So their citizens--excepting a minority whose parent either speak another language or facilitate the learning of it out of their own pockets--are culturally isolated. And insular.

UK out of Europe will wither. It'll try to re-orientate itself to the US--good luck with that.

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@scholaosloensis

Its less and less about austerity for the UK - our economy is growing strongly at last. Its far more about feeling like an outsider anyway because of the existence of the Eurozone. We are well aware we did this to ourselves for reasons which are clear to see today, but we are where we are and the key point is that for many Brits being a member of the EU no longer makes as much sense as it once did. I continue to be very pro EU but I just think the UK membership of it is increasingly meaningless and we could have a more constructive relationship with our European partners outside of the EU. The UK will never adopt the Euro and its the Eurozone that needs to unite more without the UK distracting them from this desperately required step. The mistake that many make is that they think the EU is "Europe".... its not. I have no idea if the British public will vote to leave in a referendum but I think its more likely than not given the prevailing mood in the UK about the EU. I support having a referendum and will remain open minded until I hear the views of both sides but I, as a very moderate minded person with no intention of ever supporting UKIP, am leaning towards leaving... this surprises me because I have always been pro EU over the years. Frankly if I'm thinking along these lines then the UK's membership of the EU is seriously in doubt.

The problem is that if the UK leaves it provides more leverage for nations like France to make an exit as well. And if Le Pen becomes President (unlikely, but a much more legitimate possibility then it was a few years ago, especially if France's condition stays the same and the UK leaves) then the EU will become a German dominated organization...and we know how Europe feels about German domination.

It's about a short-sighted, ignorant view on "immigration". I'm stunned at the number of Brits who whinge about harder working Eastern Europeans doing this faster and to a higher standard, but crow about how awesome all that French cheese is in Tesco's. Or how lovely it is to visit their parents the snowbirds living in Spain.

The UK suffers the educational deficit of most anglophone cultures: an unwillingness to properly teach other languages, which would create a bilingual (or multilingual) generation in less than 20 years. The UK, US, Australia, NZ and (to lesser, but still significant extent) Canada fail miserably at this. So their citizens--excepting a minority whose parent either speak another language or facilitate the learning of it out of their own pockets--are culturally isolated. And insular.

UK out of Europe will wither. It'll try to re-orientate itself to the US--good luck with that.

In the US' current condition no one should try and orientate themselves around us.

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