Post referendum musings: the beginning of the end, or a whole shiny new start?

By Dr Sarah Lieberman: Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations

Yesterday on the 23rd June 2016, the British public went to the polls to vote on whether or not the UK should remain a member of the European Union. In the second referendum the UK has seen on EU membership, Britain voted to leave by 52% to 48%.

Our interaction with Europe has not finished, it has just entered a new phase. Unfortunately a phase characterised by horrible racist sentiment, genuine lack of humanity and lack of political understanding. With politicians acting like that, it is no wonder the public are split pretty much 50/50 on what to do.

british-eu-flag-2Britain has opted to ‘leave’ the EU. So far no one has painted any sort of picture of what that actually means. We cannot leave the continent. We cannot stop trading with our closest neighbours, and we won’t stop interacting with other Europeans. We need to negotiate a new way of interacting with the EU. This will happen, how it will happen is not certain. Norway is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland is a member of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) both a very costly but allow each country to trade with the 28 Member States of the EU. It is likely Britain will try to negotiate a deal a bit like this – so I wouldn’t hold your breath for that new hospital, the money we save leaving the EU will be used to fund membership of a club in which we have no decision making powers, and which will give us no rebate. Ah well.

The EU is also overdue a reform, we have not seen reform since 2009 (Lisbon Treaty), which is actually quite a long time for the EU. This means that a reform is likely just around the corner (most probably waiting to hear the brexit result). The reform negotiations are likely to happen alongside the Brexit negotiations (of course the EU will change without the UK as a member state, we are actually quite important…)

It would seem to me that as we negotiate a new deal with the Union through the Article 50 exit clause, and as the EU rewrites its future, we will see a whole new sort of Europe emerge.

Boris, has in the past suggested he might, if PM, call another referendum to decide the nature of our new relationship with the EU (and remember we WILL have a relationship with the EU). Seems only right really – the government asked the public whether we should leave, the government could ask again what we should do next.

Looks to me like a two speed Europe emerging… This has been around for a while (unofficially),but don’t be surprised if we are asked soon to vote whether we want to be a part of something presented as super new, shiny and exciting. And just right for Britain. And that might, I suspect be the EU.

A girl can always hope.

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