Brexit: Britain’s Exit from the EU

Eurosceptism in Britain

The British Social Attitudes Survey has polled the British Public on their opinion about the EU since the EU was formed in 1992.

The BSA Survey presents the data as a table however for clarity it has been plotted below (normalising to 1000, removing the don’t knows).

The responses of the survey can be grouped as “Eurosceptic” (Leave the EU and Stay but Reduce the EU Powers), Status Quo (Keep Things the Same) and “Europhilic” (Stay and Increase the EU Powers and Work for a Single European Government). The British public has always been at a minimum 40 % Eurosceptic and this spiked to a whopping 77 % during the EU referendum. The BSA survey also polls the British public on their feeling of European Identity (which is markedly lower in Britain than on the mainland) and correlates strongly with the Eurosceptic and Europhilic data above.

The EU Referendum and “More Europe”

Britain is a pragmatic nation that looks for open markets and free trade. The British Public see advantages in having an open single market. However the European single market has several political connotations and drawbacks:

  • The Common Agricultural Policy
  • Tariffs and Quotas
  • Common Fisheries Policy
  • Conformity to Arbitrary Standards
  • Membership Fee
  • Further Political Integration
    • Euro
    • Schengen
    • EU Army

These policies are designed to treat the EU as a block and as a consequence all EU members are restricted by the lowest common denominator.

The UK has resisted many EU policies however it has been subjected to several EU policies it has not been happy about such as the Common Agricultural which unfairly subsidises European farmers and is coupled with tariffs and quotas which in essence arbitrarily increase the cost of agricultural products stifle competition. These policies also prevent free trade from outside the block (Australia and the UK have were unable to negotiate a FTA while the UK was in the EU due to Trade Disputes from Italian subsidies on Canned Tomatoes). In addition the EU is also seen to over-regulate often as a means to secure a monopoly for a European company using arbitrary standards. Other policies such as the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) have been particularly contentious in the UK as it in essence allow European Countries to pillage waters in coastal nations such as the UK without paying any taxes into the UK for using its resources.

The UK has resisted the single currency, opting to keep its own GBP. Despite this it still has been obligated to bailing out EU countries due to Euro failures it advised against following the 2008 financial crisis. The UK has also resisted calls to join Schengen instead having its own Common Travel Area (CTA) with the Republic of Ireland which has passport checks. There is very little support in the UK for an integrated EU foreign policy and integrated EU armed force, perhaps due to the fact that at worst other EU members have worked against UK interests and at best an EU administrated defense force will be ineffective due to political inability to act. The UK has a special relationship with the USA and sees the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) as one of the worlds pillars of world peace. It sees the EU Army as a means to sour relations between the EU and USA.

The EU referendum was a binary choice and following the EU’s lack of response to David Cameron’s “renegotiation” the option “Stay but Reduce the EU Powers” was seen as an impossibility by the British Public. The lack of success in the renegotiations also made it apparent the UK would be subjected to “More Europe” against its will. Making a simple assumption that those who opted for “Change but Reduce the EU Powers” split 50/50 over the binary change Leave/Remain we get a chart that adequately predicted the EU Referendum Result.

On the 23rd of June 2016 the British Public had an EU Referendum and 17,410,742 voted to Leave and 16,141,241 who voted to Remain.

eu referendum results

Brexit, Britain’s Exit from the European Union (EU) in essence is a decision for the United Kingdom (UK) to loosen ties with an EU steadfast on its way to becoming further and further centralised. This allows the potential for the UK to greatly strengthen ties and reconnect with the rest of the world.

The EU, a political project which seeks to achieve ever closer union (more centralisation), has continuously been represented as a market by the same mainstream media. Politically the European Union doesn’t sit well with the British public.

Immigration and Emigration

The Brexit was misrepresented in the ever less popular mainstream media as exclusively an anti-immigration movement. This was highlighted by the unpopularity of the former Prime Minister Theresa May when she treated Brexit as merely damage control and seeked in essence to obtain a Brexit in Name Only (BRINO) with some minor immigration controls. The Conservative Party was instead revitalised when she stepped down and was replaced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson who is taking a much stronger political stance against the EU and pushing for a Global Britain.

EU mandated immigration policy doesn’t sit well with the British public but one of the main reasons, not often cited by mainstream media was because it fails to allow the British to fully implement arrangements with non-EU countries that it has substantial ties to. Instead of looking at net immigration to the UK let us instead look at a metric more representative of British people and their sentiment towards other countries, the metric of British Emigration (showing top countries/blocks only).

Less than one quarter of British Emigration is to the EU and is absurd that the UK has no reciprocal immigration agreements with non-EU countries (5 which have an expat population compatible to the EU).

Here to make the argument we compare only the top countries/blocks the EU, USA and Commonwealth countries Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa but note there are a substantial number of other (mainly Commonwealth countries such as Singapore which have a high proportion of British expats in comparison to their relative population size). Out of the EU and USA there are slightly more Brits in the EU, however if we take into account the relative population size of the two blocks we see no substantial difference… The question therefore follows, why have a free immigration agreement with only the EU and not the USA? After all the UK and the USA share a common language and supposedly share a special relationship.

However the real hidden elephant in the room is the number of Brits who decide to immigrate to 3 other countries Canada, Australia and New Zealand which collectively have more British expats than the two blocks the EU and USA. The block of Canada, Australia and New Zealand host about 2.1 million British expats which is remarkable considering they have a combined population of about 70 million. To put it in context these 3 countries host more British expats than two blocks that have a collective population of 830 million (EU ~500 million and USA ~330 million). This is despite 40 years of freedom of movement and political integration into the EU.

It is therefore absurd that there is no mutual free immigration agreement between the CANZUK countries. Britain has always been on the edge of the “EU block”, literally and figuratively. Britain shares a language and a special relationship with the USA and sees the other CANZUK countries as its family of nations. The British Public demand, with Brexit that the British Government does better to reflect these strong ties.

Top politicians in the EU continuously reference Brexit as a disaster that “Britain is leaving its European Family of Nations”. However in doing so they unintentionally highlight one of the main underlying reasons for Brexit, the desire for the UK to connect to its family of nations outside the EU. Britain has a large Commonwealth of Nations outside the EU which she feels a strong attachment to.

It therefore comes as no surprise that the first post-Brexit changes made to the UK Border was the addition of passports to its e-gates of Commonwealth countries that are deemed low risk when it comes to overstaying.

Countries which the UK has close ties with outside the Commonwealth such as the USA, Japan and South Korea whose citizens are also deemed as low risk when it comes to overstaying were also added. This also reflects the UK’s intention to focus more on the Asia-Pacific Area post-Brexit which is meet by great enthusiasm in Australia and New Zealand.

The CANZUK Grouping

Each country within the 53 Member Commonwealth has a different relationship to the UK and indeed to all the other countries in the Commonwealth. There are 16 countries in particular that share a Monarch with the UK known as Commonwealth Realms. Within the Commonwealth Realms Canada, Australia and New Zealand alongside the United Kingdom collectively make the acronym CANZUK a phrase coined by the United Nations due to the fact that these four countries have a very similar foreign policy. These countries as mentioned earlier have extremely close people to people ties and the general public across the four countries regard the other countries as their best friends. A substantial proportion of the general public don’t even regard the other countries as “Foreign”. Ironically this fact is actually established in many British Institutions, that have been eroded by 40 years of EU Membership for example “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office” which has paradoxically been treating people from the Commonwealth as “Foreign” and people from outwith the Commonwealth as “Not Foreign”. These countries share:

  • The Common Law Political System
  • The Common Language English
  • The Common Approach to Free Trade
  • Have Comparable Food Standards
  • Have Comparable Health Care Systems
  • Have Comparable Safety Standards
  • A Similar Foreign Policy
  • A Similar Standard of Living
  • A Similar GDP per Capita
  • A Similar Culture
  • Deeply Integrated Armed Forces
  • A Common Monarch

It therefore comes at no surprise that it is these countries that alongside the UK are most enthusiastic about Brexit and these are the countries that the British Public are most excited about signing a Trade Deal with.

The Canadian Conservative Party have already made a CANZUK Treaty as their flagship foreign policy. This is also supported by the New Zealand ACT party and the New Zealand National Party.

  • Free trade in goods/services
  • Visa-free labour/leisure mobility for citizens, including retirement relocation
  • Reciprocal healthcare agreement modeled on existing AU / NZ / UK bilaterals
  • Increased consumer choice/protection for travel
  • Security coordination

Brexit: Aligning CANZUK Policies

The most two popular ideas regarding Brexit (Britain’s Exit from the EU) are policies based on two of the other CANZUK countries.

  • The Australian Points Based Immigration System
    • This brings the Border Policies of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom in natural alignment
    • Allows for the accession of the UK and Canada into the Trans-Tasman Travel Agreement Existing between Australia and New Zealand i.e. CANZUK 
  • The Canadian Style (Tighter Relationship) or Australian Style (Looser Relationship) Trade Deal with the EU
    • This brings the UK and Canada in high alignment when it comes to trade policy
    • This sets the way forward for a CANZUK trade arrangement

There is also support for modelling Britain’s electoral system on Australia’s as the general public are feeling more and more frustrated over first past the post. With naturally aligning policies of the four CANZUK countries, a CANZUK treaty is more likely.

The Five Eyes

The USA alongside the four CANZUK countries make the grouping known as the Five Eyes. This is in essence an expansion of the UK-USA Special Relationship established from the close UK-USA partnership established during the hardships of the second world war. At that time the other countries were Dominions of the British Empire. As they became Commonwealth Realms the Special Relationship between the Five Countries became known as the Five Eyes.

CANZUK differs from the Five Eyes and excludes the USA due to substantial political incompatibilities. CANZUK is wrongly viewed as Canada picking the UK as a partner over the USA. Canada differs from the USA in the following:

  • Food Standards
  • Health Care Systems
  • Safety Standards

The substantial difference in food standards and safety standards is the primary reason why Canada and the USA don’t already enjoy absolutely complete free trade. The other CANZUK countries are much more similar to Canada than to the USA in this regard. Moreover Canada and the USA have not been able to setup reciprocal healthcare agreements and associated freedom of movement/consumer protection because the USA has an Insurance based healthcare system and Canada has a socialised healthcare system. In all these areas the CANZUK countries are far more similar than the USA. These are the areas the UK will also encounter some stumbling blocks when it comes to negotiating a UK-USA Free Trade Deal and is the reason why the British Public are slightly less enthusiastic about the Free Trade Deal between the UK and USA than the UK and the other CANZUK countries.

The last point, having a Common Monarch is often referenced as a reason not to have the USA involved in CANZUK however the UK and ROI enjoy and will continue to enjoy post-Brexit a Common Travel Area. The ROI is much closer to the CANZUK countries in terms of Food Standards, Health Care Systems and Safety Standards.

Having defiantly finally taking Britain out of the EU, Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes an enthusiastic speech pushing for a Global Britain which follows many of the sentiments of this article. This is going to be an exciting year as we see the UK Government make trade deals with countries across the world.

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