Friday, November 14, 2014

Piece for E!Sharp: 10 questions for the EU about a Brexit

Every week seems to bring a new row between Britain and the rest of the EU. UK-EU relations have never been what could be called stable or easy-going. But relations today seem to have reached new lows. Britain comes across as a wrecker or blackmailer that is ‘lighting a fire under the EU’, to quote Philip Hammond MP, Britain’s Foreign Secretary. Things are so bad that few doubt leaked reports that Angela Merkel is prepared to see Britain leave rather than agree to British demands to restrict freedom of movement within the EU.
If UK-EU differences cannot be reconciled and a British exit becomes highly likely - admittedly very big ifs in themselves - then the EU needs to give careful thought to ten questions about where this could lead it. Britain too will need to think about the EU’s likely answers. How UK-EU relations develop in the face of a Brexit will depend less on what London demands and more on how the rest of the EU - the much larger partner in this - responds.