Post European Referendum and what happens next

In a world full of chaos the only thing which is constant is change.

The European Referendum for the UK to remain or leave took place on 23rd June 2016. A majority of 52% voted for the UK as a whole to leave the European Union. It is fair to say there were divisions in the vote. Any referendum will cause such divisions. People will have different opinions and beliefs and their reasons are different based on the circumstances and their environment.

Where did the European Union go wrong?

Immigration has been a hot potato in the UK. There were also concerns on security issues and debates that the free movement does not allow removal of criminals from the country. During the general election the current Prime Minister of the UK promised referendum to leave or remain in the European Union. After failed negotiations a referendum was called. Some argue the European Union has been out of touch with what is happening in member states. The union needs a greater involvement and listen to the concerns raised by member states to remain a united front. Confidence building can take time but mutual respect and tolerance from both the sides should be the motive and arbitrary or dictatorial rules by either side do not work in a united setup.

So what happens next?

Europe is a continent and Britain will always be part of the Europe due to its geographical location irrespective of it being in or out of the European Union or any such special arrangement with other countries etc.

Process of leaving European Union:

In order for Britain to leave the European Union it simply needs to repeal 1972 European Communities Act. However, in order to negotiate and compel European Union to negotiate, Britain needs to trigger the process of Article 50. The European Union has made it clear that it will only start negotiations when Article 50 is triggered. Therefore, the UK cannot use the Article 50 just to negotiate and not leave the European Union. In order to negotiate the UK needs to trigger Article 50 to leave the European Union.

Trade agreements and single market – what options are there?

The main concerns of Britain leaving the European Union is what happens to the trade agreements with other countries.

The benefits of being in the European Union is that the British firms who export to the European Union do so currently without paying any taxes on goods and without any other barriers in trade and the firms based in the countries which are members of the European Union have the same rights when doing business in the UK. In a nutshell, it helps firms to avoid paying taxes and this as a result helps in keeping price down for goods and services which are imported from European Union. However, there are more difficulties in trading with non-EU countries when the UK is part of the European Union whether it is quotas or various restrictions on kind of goods which can be imported from non-EU countries.

Post EU referendum, the UK needs to make decision in terms of its future relationship with EU.

If the UK wants to be in the single market then it will have to agree for free movement of not only goods but people as well. Norway has similar arrangement. Switzerland is another country which is not part of the European Union but part of the single market. While a referendum in Switzerland voted to implement immigration quotas or cap but this approach was rejected by the European Union. This means the UK cannot control immigration from the European Union, until and unless the UK clinches a deal where the negotiations will allow it to be part of the single market but still control immigration in the country, which may be highly unlikely given the current trend.

Instead of being a member of the single market the UK can trade in a single market. Countries can sell in the single market without being part of it, like the U.S does, but that may mean application of taxes and quotas to limit import.

The best option for the UK would be to join the free trade area of the European Union. A number of other countries outside Europe like Ukraine and Turkey have similar arrangements. A unilateral free trade approach may be another option.

There is further opportunity to form trading relations with other countries such as U.S, Canada, India, China etc. The UK already exports on a large scale to countries that are not part of the European Union for e.g. United States, China, and Switzerland.

What will Brexit mean for migration in Britain?

Those who were leading the campaign to leave the European Union e.g. Boris Johnson and Michael Gove suggested that a Points Based System will be applied for all migrants including those coming from the European Union. They also suggested that this will ensure migrants are treated non-discriminatorily and not on the basis of from which country they come. The immigration rules does not require European Union migrants a visa to enter the UK but the same approach currently does not exist for migrants coming from non-European countries.

There is a preferential treatment of immigrants based on where they are coming from. While migrants coming from for e.g. India or Pakistan needs to go through a rigid points based system and a British national needs to prove a minimum income threshold of earnings (£18,600) to bring spouse from a non-EU country but a EU national need not go through a similar sort of stricter visa criteria to bring their non-EU relatives (partner, mother, father, uncle, aunt, brothers and sisters). Rules should be universally applied irrespective of where they come from. Imagine you apply for a job and the company says they only prefer nationals of a certain country. The differential treatment of non-EU migrants compared to EU migrants is discriminatory. It does not become morally or ethically right or legitimate because it is within the immigration / EU rules. Therefore, a country’s immigration rules should ideally ensure all are treated equally irrespective of whether they come from Europe or Asia and Africa and should be reasonable for all.

Author – Amit Kapadia

Amit is the Executive Director of the HSMP Forum. He campaigns against issues such as – unfairness, inequality and abuse of human rights.

Twitter @ amit_kapadia

BRITAIN SHOULD REMAIN IN THE UK OR EXIT?

The European referendum is due to take place on 23rd of June 2016. British citizens and those belonging to commonwealth countries and residents in the UK will be deciding on which way the referendum will go.

This is an article to look into and assess various arguments and advantages and disadvantages of Britain remaining in the European Union or what if Britain leaves the European Union. Everyone may have their own preferences and reasons to decide to vote whichever way they may wish. There can only be speculations and assumptions on what may happen if the vote goes either way. Therefore, the predictions and reasons for support for either of the sides may be unsubstantiated at times.

The benefits of remaining in the European Union:

  • There would not be a great fluctuation in the financial markets. There will be more certainty for businesses and economy;
  • Time being, there may not be threats from the Scottish government for leaving Britain or demand for another referendum for Scottish independence;
  • Status quo and room for more countries joining the European Union and a greater and larger union

What happens if Britain leaves the European Union?

The answer is not as simple or straight forward. In 1970s when Britain joined European Union things were different. The world is in a different era now due to liberalised markets and it would not be accurate to say Britain’s economy would be the same as it used to be pre 1970s. There can be panic and the country may go into short term recession. Rents will go down and house prices will go down when the inflow of people from European Union will reduce and this may affect the economy and some of the services. Of course, Britain can join back the European Union in such an eventuality and when there is a large scale change of mind over Brexit.

Some migrants from non-European countries have been asking questions on whether leaving the European Union will help non-EU migrants with the UK’s immigration rules. The reason for rigid immigration rules is because of the government’s plans to control immigration. The points based system for extensions and settlement or the artificial cap which the government planned meant stricter immigration rules to reduce the numbers. However, when the pressure of large migration from the European Union reduces then the immigration rules may not be as rigid as they currently are and there may be bit more relaxation of the rules in future. This is based on a more logical way of looking at it. Will the government still act the way it does in absence of any political pressure of managing migration if Britain leaves the European Union? A more logical and simple response would be that they would not. The reason being lack of political pressure and since immigration would not be a hot potato anymore as it currently is, then there would be less likelihood of government trying to curb settlement schemes or implementing stricter extension criteria and other monetary thresholds, for those settled and citizens, for bringing in their spouse or parents to the UK.

All these stricter immigration rules and controls were implemented post 2006 after the European Union expansion and after some of the European countries joined the European Union.

The choice is not easy, as on one side leaving may mean the UK may arguably become much more insignificant on world stage compared to other European Union countries that are part of the European Union. However, this may be a matter of interpretation. Are Canada, Australia, and Russia any less insignificant currently than the UK since they are not a part of the European Union?

Individuals will vote based on what really affects them and what is important for them, for e.g. some people informed about their inability to buy a property or afford rents in London and other cities due to the inflated house prices and rents as a consequence of a large demand and less supply in the form of housing. Yes, and of course the government’s failure to build new houses to match the demand in the market contributed to the inflated rents and property prices. The hope that the house prices or rents will come down if Britain leaves the European Union may come at a price of losing their employment or having other forms of financial difficulties in a difficult economy if what has been argued by the remain campaigners comes out to be true.

How immigration rules may be post Brexit? If what the leave campaigners are arguing is true and if they get their way then it is likely that if Britain leaves the European Union then every migrant may have to go through a Points Based criteria to enter Britain irrespective of where he or she comes from. Only the best and the skilled may be able to enter the country. There may be a route for unskilled workers coming from across the world.

There seems to be lack of positive arguments from both the sides. Those campaigning that Britain should stay in the Europe are arguing on how the UK will be financially hit and on how it will lose its prominence in the world stage. While David Cameron and other politicians and their supporters who have been shouting from roof tops on how immigration is a bad thing during their election campaigns have suddenly stopped making anti-migrant comments for the greater economic interests of Britain in the European Union. While those campaigning for the UK to leave the European Union are arguing mostly on reducing immigration in the UK and at times it is sounding xenophobic and as a result this seems to have been discouraging immigrants in general and others, irrespective of where they come from, from supporting the leave campaign. The positive arguments for leave campaigners can be more in terms of having fairer immigration rules for all irrespective of where they come from.

Whatever you decide to do on the referendum day, make sure you do vote!

Author – Amit Kapadia

Amit is the Executive Director of the HSMP Forum. He campaigns against issues such as – unfairness, inequality and abuse of human rights.

Twitter @ amit_kapadia