What would we do if, or possibly when, Britain leaves the EU? In recent months the chances of Britain actually doing so have risen sharply. Diplomatically, it would still be a big move for Whitehall, but with 56% of British people wanting to leave the EU outright, the next few years could be increasingly fraught for Britain and the EU.
And it is not just the British becoming increasingly disillusioned with the EU; the EU are becoming noticeably less inclined to understand the British position on many issues.
Tomorrow, the British will be cold-shouldered at an EU summit once again. The view from the continent seems to be that the British are a pain. If they left the EU, the EU could be just fine without them.
Let’s think about the latest row the Brits are having with the EU. The British want to freeze the EU budget, or at least their contribution. In contrast, the EU institutions, backed by the politicians of other EU member states, want a 5% increase in the EU’s institutions’ budget.
So what the Brits are actually looking for is austerity for the EU itself. What’s so wrong with this? After all isn’t the EU the main cheerleader for austerity as a policy? What is good for the goose is clearly not so good for the gander.
It seems like a reasonable position to take and one in which it is supported by Germany, Finland and the Netherlands. However, while the others play politics behind closed doors, David Cameron is constantly under pressure from the Eurosceptics in the Tories to dig his heels in to satisfy public opinion.
Anyone who has ever lived in the UK knows that a referendum on British membership of the EU would be won handsomely by the No side and this is, I suspect, what Cameron wants to avoid, particularly as he is trying to win an independence referendum in the more traditionally pro-EU Scotland.
In Ireland, getting away from the influence of London was the clear driver of our EEC policy in the 1970s when London was seen as still dominating our small republic. But now that we have been freed of this insecurity, is it still clever to think that a European Union without Britain would be in our best interests?
I sense the anti-British feeling or insecurity with respect to Britain has diminished hugely in this country since the 1970s. For most people, the UK is a good neighbour. It is a neighbour with whom we share so much that it would be almost inconceivable to think of daily life without Britain, from the perspective of TV, newspapers, popular culture and sport.
For Ireland, there appears to be a tendency amongst the political classes to behave as if Britain doesn’t exist at all. Despite the absolute centrality of Britain in our economic affairs, for example, one gets the impression that when senior officials from the Department of Finance look out east they see all the way directly to Holland as if the big island called Britain isn’t there at all.
Yet, if we look at patterns of trade, 52pc of all our EU imports come from Britain. It is by far and away the biggest market for our biggest employing indigenous sectors, agriculture and tourism. British banks are exposed hugely in Ireland, having lent some â‚¬60bn here in the boom. It came as a surprise to many of us to hear the British Chancellor of the Exchequer state that Britain exported more to Ireland than it did to India, China, Russia and Brazil combined.
It is not just trade that binds us together; the demographic flows between the countries are extraordinary when seen in the context of two separate jurisdictions. One of the most striking legacies of this intertwining is the fact that there are more British people today with one Irish grandparent than there are Irish people with Irish grandparents. In the past few years we have seen the pattern continue. In our boom, the biggest ethnic minority in Ireland was the English. Since the crash the main destination for Irish people emigrating is still Britain, and London in particular.
So what might happen if Britain were to leave the EU? The most significant fact, which is not fully appreciated, is that the EU would suffer an enormous loss of status. There seems to be a view that the EU wouldn’t suffer, but Britain would suffer a slump in prestige and position. It is not so clear this would be the case. The EU without a major country like the UK would be diminished on the world stage. It’s northern European, free-trading character would also be diminished, as would its budget.
For Ireland, it would mean being part of an enterprise where of the two other countries we joined with in 1973, one isn’t in the euro (Denmark) and one isn’t in the EU (Britain). Far more importantly, it would mean our two major trading partners, the US and the UK, would not be in the same orbit politically and we would be tied to a project which we would be entirely unsuited to economically. Ireland would be a total outlier in terms of economic integration, while culturally we would be in a club with which we share practically nothing.
These are big issues. Understandably, we would want to row our own boat independent of London, but equally we should at least be sure which way the current is going and be sure it is bringing us in the appropriate direction.
David McWilliams’ new book ‘The Good Room’ is out now.
CAP and UK Rebate
The idea of hitching our wagon to the UK is ridiculous. Whatever democratic deficit we may experience regarding the EU from time to time it is nothing compared to what life would be like in the UK zone-of-influence. The UK hegemony is the past. Our future lies in being an equal member of the EU and the wider global community. The anti-EU sentiment in the UK is primarily driven by emotion rather than logic. I cannot think of anything more debilitating that going in to reverse gear and reverting back to life pre-1973. We need to ‘man up’ as a… Read more »
This is a piece that really got me thinking. I’m doing a bit of reading on Europe’s Varieties of capitalism and I think you’re on to something much deeper. The basic premise of Hall and Soskice’s (?) argument is that there are two “ideal types” of capitalism; Liberal market economies (LME’s) and Coordinated Market Economies (CME’s). They vary quite a bit: Finance: fast-paced, short-term relationships with investors for LME’s. Long term and mutually beneficial agreements or partnerships for CME’s. Innovation: faced paced, highly expensive projects tied closely to IT and phrmaceuticals (LME). Paced innovation tied to engineering (VW, Audi etc),… Read more »
Cameron, unlike all the other gutless EU politicians is doing the right thing in attempting to freeze the EU budget. The eurocrats are on ridiculous packages which inclde 56 days holiday a year and higher wages if they have more children and special lowere tax rates because they dont want to pay belgian tax rates. Its a similar trough to the one in the Dail and of course they want it to expand it at the expense of the outsiders.
Your article essentially makes an argument for more engagement with other countries and institutions besides the UK. We are too dependent on the UK for our economic well-being. The current austerity in the UK – effects hidden till now by the Olympic spending – will be affect Ireland soon enough.
The EU isn’t perfect, but it’s a bigger and more varied market.
Going it alone with the UK is more Irish parochial thinking. You’re better than that David.
Leopold Kohr, in his excellent book ‘The Breakdown of Nations’, explains very lucidly and convincingly that all federations, where one state or nation is overwhelmingly powerful in comparison to the others, are unstable. He cites Switzerland’s canton system, the Austrailan federation and the United States as stable federations, because the constitutent cantons/states are similar enough in size for a stable enough balance of power. Europe is not that stable, because Germany and France are so large incomparison to others, but that instability is stabilized somewhat by the power of the French rÃ©gions, and the balanced nature of regional development in… Read more »
I think it is fair to ask the question what would happen if the UK left. The EU is a fairly cold place at the moment as it is. The Germans and Dutch have in built superiority complexes that do not lend themselves to open healty economic or financial union. The French have it too but it is a bit superficial.The UK from their past and still to some degree had the same complex but it may be waning. The Germans and Dutch do not like to be challenged by the Brits but that challenge is vital to any sort… Read more »
BTW have the Englih eurosceptics approached their Irish/Scottish/Welsh counterparts to discuss their plans if and when they leave the EU?
Have the English eurosceptics put much thought into how this will effect ‘the Celtic periphery’?
I very much doubt it. Now THAT is a sign of things to come if we leave the EU!
Actions and Consequences. Some of the issues exercisng politicans in the UK are as follows. The possible high level of unemployment resulting from loss of trade with EU members and the effects of the exit on international investment. U.K financial services industry may encounter a number of restrictions and face massive shrinkage. The imposition of trade Tarrifs by the EU. FDI investment (especially in manufacturing) may be curtailed due to lack of direct access to EU markets. On the flip side of the coin the UK could focus on trade ties with the BRIC economies, Africa, Australia, Canada and the… Read more »
Hi all, For the last circa 35 years of my conscious life I have watched with interest at the persistence of people to continuously superimpose their internal model of the world on the reality. So when I hear things like we should have more engagement with other countries and institutions besides the UK, I have to smile. Fact #1: We have been a member of the EEC, EC and now EU for 40 odd years. If we have not managed to engage with the other countries at this stage, then I doubt we will have a paradigm shift over the… Read more »
Sensitivity I think this article is fantastic and for many reasons. It is written as a basis of facts before us and draws selective historical analysis that make a lot of sense .It allows the reader to think for themselves and does not direct the reader with any answer for a direction to take . Why should he ? On observation of the critics above maybe when David said : ‘ ‘I sense the anti-British feeling or insecurity with respect to Britain has diminished hugely in this country since the 1970s’ . Maybe it hasn’t but still the critics watch… Read more »
Hi All, Is the cold truth not that as a Country we are finished, a litle like the small corner shop and the Multiple ? The 4-6 million people on this Island will eventually run out of money to fund a state, and have to become part a “statelet” of Europe, or return to the British fold. Assuming we get out of the current mess in even 10 years the truth is we cannot ever generate the money needed for the people now aged 30-50 of this country to retire in any dignity. Nobody owes a few million incompetent fools,… Read more »
We Irish have changed as a community in our own country and the old Irish that we were is now no more .The genetic pool is new so are the languages spoken . The business alliances are more numerous and along many new ethnic lines .
Those of us that never emigrated yet have done so by implication by staying in Ireland and without learning any foreign language . They will be the new poor of tomorrow unless they have political party support .
There is widespread hatred of the EU in the UK. This, of course, is fostered by the right-wing press who always play up to perceived views in all areas. Nevertheless, that, on its own, doesn’t mean that it is necessarily wrong. People in the UK pay an average of some Â£300 each for the privilege of being in the EU for very little return. We (like the Irish) hand over monies in VAT, in import duties from non-EU countries, we also have to submit to European Court judgements including no right to appeal against the dreaded European Arrest Warrant (doesn’t… Read more »
For a discussion as to whether to join or leave this or that organization It may be instructive to know who runs the various clubs, and how and why they do so.
Some bonkers responses to the article here. To leave the EU could not possibly be to revert to ‘pre 1973’ Ireland – a silly thing to say. The world has indeed moved on. Most alarming thing here is the tunnel-visioned Europhile nature of some comments. It may take ‘some years’ to get to the EU utopia from here? Even if it is possible, who the hell is gong to pay for it along the way?
To be honest, I really do not think it matters one whit if UK leaves or stays. The importance of a nation state is not what it once was. I love Europe and the UK. I’ll still be visiting them and trading with them as before. We need to move away from this idea of trading blocks and stop looking outside at short term solutions to retain some vestige of a status quo. Are we to rusk to the apron strings of the UK for some vestige of protection…or equally to the EU becasue it is a bigger trading block.… Read more »
David: The reason “52pc of all our EU imports come from Britain” as you say, is because we are on the U.K. electrical system and drive on the left side of the road like them. Try getting an Irish agency for almost any international product they will tell you that you must buy from their U.K. distributor. This means that the U.K. has a built-in monopoly on the sale and distribution of all automotive, computer and consumer electronics into Ireland together with all after sales service and spare parts. They are not our biggest trading partner; they remain, as they… Read more »
That’s a very valid point Pat.
David: One further factor to consider when Britain leaves the EU is that the U.S. is slowly but inexorably going Hispanic. Anglos are already in the minority in California. Obama could not have been re-elected without the Hispanic vote. The Anglo-American “special relationship” is sun setting. Britain is foolishly assuming that the U.S. will always be its “special” friend. Not when Hispanics replace white European powerbrokers in Washington D.C. The U.S. will more and more look to its own hemisphere, southward to the growing economic power of Central and South America. Ireland must not make the mistake the Brits will… Read more »
Britain leave the EU? if only. There will never be a vote if there is a chance of it taking the UK out of the EU. Too many on benefits. Many Irish people are quite happy in the communist EU (Barrosso is a maoist don’t forget), they are so brain washed by the sewer stream media. They are happy to let the Authoritarian’s run everything. The farmers think it’s great because of the grant cheques. If only they seen the wolf in Sheeps clothing. Those with bogs are beginning to see the light, yet many are still too stupid too… Read more »
Why the hell does so much of this conversation degenerate into either a repetition of what went on in the past, who died for their country, or for another country’s war (Irishmen died in their thousands in the first and second World War NOT fighting the English, but the Nazis, there is a slight difference, as did many other non-English, indeed as did many English, what relevance has that to the EU?). Debates on the EU have nothing to do with the matters concerning what the ‘English’ have done against the Irish in the past. Neither are they – or… Read more »
I don’t think it’s a question of hitching wagons to either/or.
In fact, if the UK did leave the EU, I would say it would be quite likely Ireland and the UK would extend the Common Travel area to allow free trade as it is now within the EU. Ireland would most likely be in a very good position to bridge the UK and the EU. E.g. If a French company can’t free trade with the UK but Ireland can, the French company can set up a base in Ireland to do so.
Some totally uninformed opinion (in the damnable Tiger tradition) on France and what Hollande is actually doing in this current theme must be urgently rectified. The entire suicidal mantra of FG is using complete lies to back it – even worse than FF. Their entire strategy is now in tatters, and they are laying the country waste. Hollande’s Shock Therapy Ã la Francaise Nov. 21, 2012 (Nouvelle Solidarite)–France is still digesting the shock-therapy announced by FranÃ§ois Hollande and his Prime Minister, Jean Marc Ayrault, during the first week of November. In a sense, all of this was included in the… Read more »
A hilarious piece from the Irish Times ! Could rejoining the UK be any worse than this? “It’s not such a radical idea. A one-time columnist for The Irish Times (now pontificating in another place) used to regularly make the case for re-entering the Commonwealth. If that organisation is good enough for former colonies such as India, Australia and Papua New Guinea then it’s good enough for us. After all, the Australians can’t stand the English, but they stubbornly refuse to disengage from a coalition comprising the nation’s former slave states.” ….. “It’s all academic anyway. After the events of… Read more »
Doh! Boys and girls – you have missed the point. Forget Empire. Forget the queen. Forget the elites. Focus on “now”. David’s rather skewed stats on grandparents make a key point. The political union was broken in 1922. The cultural union is now stronger than ever. Dara O’Brian fills theatres in the UK. BBC, Channel 4, Sky are the rich cousins to RTE. The immediate escape hatch for the Irish is London. My mother (middle class South Dublin) emmigrated to London in 1964 and married an Englishman – my father. I’m a crossbreed (like my son who is quarter British/Irish/Jamiacan/Monterserratian).… Read more »
I think the Irish can make their own decisions. The problems in Ireland relate to the “Insiders” – which is a mixture of the FF establishment and Brussels. If the UK leaves the EU – may I suggest the Irish approach should be pure self-interest? It is a detached approach from the EU. Within the EU – but with an punt nua? Anglo-Irish can’t get much better. Consider: a) Settlement on the 6 counties – agreed. (Ask Gerry Adams if you don’t agree with me). b) Common Travel Area – solid. (Bizarrely the DUP are the guardians of this). c)… Read more »
“Understandably, we would want to row our own boat independent of London”. Not in a thousand years David. You are a bit of dreamer son and you waste your intellect writing hollow articles. Give me evidence to the contrary and give us some hope. Not one person in this country can come up with a credible plan for the future because they see no future without chains. Like they know deep down that they are royal fuck up merchants The future died years ago and there is only today. Grey skies and battering Atlantic winds. The same tomorrow and the… Read more »
All the talk of splitting the EU (which is cracking up anyway), the UK “leaving it”, implying “it” will continue, is foam on the beer. The real split is of the banks – both on policy now and the inevitable breakup of universal banking, separating retail from investment. Cameron is desperately trying to avoid this breakup with a choreographed sideshow. British Establishment Faction Pushes Glass-steagall Nov. 22, 2012 (LPAC)–The battle over ring-fencing versus a Glass-Steagall-style separation of retail and investment banking is raging in Parliament and the British media. Today, the subject came up on a BBC news segment featuring… Read more »
‘The most urgent problem facing the US and the Western nations is not a ‘fiscal cliff.’ It is the pernicious corruption in the financial system that has captured the politicians, and distorted the public conversation by the distortion of the media and the opinions of ‘experts’ through the power of big money.’ ‘Government is actually a collection of people and government policy is usually determined — even in modern, Western countries — by groups of people operating BEHIND government: Kingmakers they used to be called.’ The above are a couple of quotes of commentators on the current scene. All the… Read more »
Marc Howe | November 21, 2012 Legendary investor Stephen Leeb says that in the current economic climate investors should expect gold to continue riding strong “until it just breaks out in a major way.” Speaking to King World News the veteran money manager observes that growth in the developed world has stalled and recessions in leading economies are deepening. Austerity measures in the EU have failed to take effect, and the Europeans are now realizing monetary expansion must continue. In the US, despite the provisional boon provided by a bounce-back in housing, no new industries are being developed to continue… Read more »
Dave from Denver… Wednesday, November 21, 2012 Got Gold? Central Banks Are Getting Large Quantities With investing, if you are not early you are late – Hal, long time friend and colleague Brazil’s Central Bank announced the purchase of over 17 tonnes of gold in October. Here’s the commentary on this from UBS precious metals strategist Ed Tully: There may be a flutter of excitement in the market today with news that Brazil’s official reserves of gold rose 17.2 tonnes in October, according to IMF statistics. This follows on from the 1.7 tonnes of buying in September and brings total… Read more »
URL: http://dollarvigilante.com/blog/2012/11/22/you-cant-secedebecause-were-exiling-you.html Thursday,November 22, 2012 Once again we come to you as the humble messenger and past predictor of today’s major issues! On January 20th of this year we penned an article entitled, “Forced Expatriation Coming to the USSA”. In it we stated, “We can clearly see that the United Soviet States of America is putting in place the necessary tools to be able to strip whoever it likes of the so-called ‘privilege’ of being a US citizen.” And, yet again, it looks as though it is coming to pass. With the massive influx of personal petitions to secede from… Read more »
Ireland should deal with all; we are on the British-US axis and play a role in Europe, I don’t see that changing regardless of what the British may or may not do. I figure Britain will stay in the EU for trade reasons and you are bound to get these noises with Cameron trying to hangon to his party, next election will see Labour back in and conciliatory speeches made. The bigger issue is the EU itself and its budget of over â‚¬1 trillion, yet another EU building is going up in Brussels at the cost of â‚¬260 million which… Read more »
THE GATHERING IRELAND 2013:
DON’T BRING PREGNANT WOMEN
Found on bocktherobber dot com.
All is not well in America.
Food Banks Trying to Cope with Thanksgiving Rush
Saw “Ear to the Ground last” night on RTE1. I like it. Said more or less same thing. Spud shortage thsi year due to bad weather. And there no more stories about food mountains and set aside etc. any more. Peak Food? Then again, we have 60-70% obesity in developed world. 40% drop in intake recommended. And then there’s plain food wastage 20-30% of average shop in UK. Bit of a mess really.
Watch Listen Farage on RT Europe split in every way possible http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGyutSk_t_k Similar to comments made here by those who did not get caught in history histrionics. Remember DMW is asking ” What would we do if, or possibly when, Britain leaves the EU?” to provoke the discussions we should be having. Philip watch ear to the ground again in particular to NGO rep who actually used the word Climate Change and energy shortage. See the stockbroker talk of major technological breakthrough to keep up with task of feeding the world. Food and energy poverty are other words for no… Read more »
Irish Personal Insolvency Act Today I was at a Professional Seminar on the above and related topics given by senior Barristers and Solicitors.The venue was not in Dublin. The major points that stood out to me were : The Act was created by the Bankers Lobby ; and The Ombudsman was created by the Bankers Lobby; and Lots of Waffle stuffed inside it ; and Very Unclear ; and Lack of procedure how it will work ; Vulnerable Pigs have yet to test how it will work and suffer the consequences; and The Act is undemocratic for any EU State… Read more »
David asks a very serious question in this article. How exactly is Ireland prepared for the possibility that Britain might decide that the EU is a load of nonsense and that it would be in Britain’s interest to get out ? The sheer exercise of asking that question is aneathma to the entire “buy in” consensus that the EU is a success. Therefore we are bombarded with opinion (and most of the time that is all that it is) that is positive about the EU, and negative about anybody who questions the EU. There is currently no objective discussion about… Read more »
Cyprus has agreed a bailout package with the European Union and International Monetary Fund and expects the lenders to confirm the deal later today, the island’s government spokesman said.
If confirmed by the lenders, Cyprus will become the fourth euro zone country to request a sovereign rescue.
The Mediterranean island sought financial aid — which could be up to â‚¬17.5 billion, equal to its entire annual economic output — in June, after its banks were battered by their exposure to the Greek crisis.
Mr Van Rompuy had proposed a â‚¬25 billion cut in the allocation for agriculture from a budget plan tabled by the European Commission. Van Rompuy has now proposed putting â‚¬7.7 billion back into the CAP budget, so the reduction would be â‚¬17.3 billion. if accepted. Are Van Rompuy and co seeking to destroy the agricultural sector with these massive budget cuts?
This is not about economics David because most people know by now that what is happening to them is about international politics, white collar crime, local corruption and our individual powers of reasoning and decision making. We can do a lot about the latter in the meantime and go back to the former later when it’s time to weed out those who are not putting in a proper shift The only economics that matter to most people now is home economics and we have all learned the moves and how to juggle numbers from day to day. We are all… Read more »
The dynamism and the sense of urgency in practical matters has moved from the West to the East. It is a matter of cultural happening. The greatness of the west is now superceded by the daftness of the West. The West is obsessed with daftness. The West has become intellectually defunct. Ironically, it was the continent that seemed most capable of averting this. But now, it is instead indulged upon. The East has been played out with daftness and now concentrates of greatness. You might be able to save yourselves as individuals. But the great project of the age aims… Read more »
Sberbank CEO: Euro Currency Bloc Will Break Up Nov. 23 (EIRNA)–Russian Sberbank Chief Executive Herman Gref said at the Euro Finance Week conference in Frankfurt yesterday that it is impossible to save the euro zone with all its current members in the long term, and added that the creation of a banking union which the Europeans plan, is a very difficult task. Gref said the “European Union was great idea,” but the creation of a single currency bloc wasn’t, as there are “great differences in competitiveness across the euro-zone countries.” He also questioned if it was pragmatic for the EU… Read more »
Political Paralysis Blocks EU Budget Deal Nov. 23 (EIRNA)–EU leaders failed to reach a deal on the European Commission’s budget 2014-2020 after two days of talks, the situation not having changed much from the one after the first round of failed talks yesterday late night. After that first session, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters: “I believe that the positions are still very far apart…. I think that we will advance a little, but doubt that we will achieve a result.” French President FranÃ§ois Hollande also said that some countries needed to “contribute more.” Prime Minister David Cameron, leader of… Read more »
first of all i agree that the anti EU sentiment in britain is largely emotional. Britain as you said is a major nation in the EU and I think it is more about them throwing their weight around and wanting to have a bigger say in how the EU is run, on this they maybe successful. Then they can turn to the electorate and say look at the power and concessions we have got. You rightly point out that the EU might lose status if a major nation like britain were to leave. But what about the implications for britain,… Read more »