Tuesday, 8 August 2017

'Half Brexit' - The Overview

Last autumn there was a Court case that forced the UK government to hold a vote on triggering Article 50.  The immediate concern from Brexiters such as Nigel Farage was that MPs would vote for a 'Half Brexit', whereby the UK would stay in the Single Market, but otherwise leave the EU.


A 'Half Brexit' is what is now proposed, specifically:
  • The UK joins an upgraded EEAplus, being the current European Economic Area upgraded to boost the UK's involvement in decisions, and add any trading aspects not currently covered by the EEA agreements
  • The UK otherwise leaves the EU, including no need for MEPs
  • But the UK retains collaboration in key pan-European initiatives that do not need the UK to be EU members and have MEPs, such as the OpenSkies initiative for air travel
Freedom of Movement (FOM) of People would need to be retained. Crucially  a recent poll  found that the UK electorate put staying in the Single Market with FOM above restricting FOM by over 2 to 1.


All three key negotiation issues that have stalled would be resolved:

  1. Irish Border which would continue to be open as at present
  2. Rights of EU27 citizens in UK and Brits in EU27 countries
  3. Settlement of 'divorce bill, covered by new annual contributions
 In addition:
  • Crucially the trading relationship with Europe would remain unaltered, so no risk of a negative economic impact from Brexit 
  • The proposal broadly fulfils the objectives of each political party, even perhaps the new deal sought by the ruling Conservatives
  • The majority of the UK electorate should support the move, probably between 60% and 80%.  The only people disappointed would be those strongly pro-EU and the hard Brexiters such as Farage, who want to be completely independent of Europe.
  • An 'EEAplus' provides an exit route for any country wanting to leave the EU but remain in a trading relationship.  That might include Greece, which currently is in the euro, and Sweden, which like the UK still has its own currency
  • The European Court of Justice (ECJ), which oversees EU matters and is such a hot issue for many, would be replaced for most purposes by the Courts of the EEA. There has to be some way of enforcing the rules of the Single Market.
  • The UK would retain the right to rejoin the EU, though that would probably require adopting the Euro  (which is another reason not to leave completely now and potentially rejoin later)
What has changed since last year's vote for Article 50 is that there is now a cross-party APPG, consisting of MPs from Labour and Conservative parties in particular, campaigning to stay in the Single Market.  That could make all the difference.

Further details, the political angle, and next steps are given in this blog post.  Click here.

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