“We will look after your star and work to ensure the EU is a project you’ll want to be a part of again soon,” said The EU Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator Mr Verhofstadt responding to a message which had been projected onto the White Cliffs of Dover by a pro-EU group. (1)
So in the meantime are there any silver linings to losing the gold star?
Silver Lining 1: Save cost of membership of the EU
Saving the cost of membership of the EU could be one big plus as “the UK’s net contribution was £8.5bn”in 2016. (3) However the annual cost of being a member of the United States of Europe also entitles a country to instantly increased trade and free access to the world’s biggest global trade bloc. Belonging to the EU also contributed to our economy greatly in such a pluralistic way it is hard to quantify all the financial benefits of being in the club. Therefore there is still much to ‘offset’ this multi million pound yearly saving.
Silver Lining 2: Positive deal for UK business with the EU
It is possible that Prime Minister Johnson might be able to strike a positive deal for UK business with the EU, if he is able to emulate another non-EU countries existing successful modal. A BBC article reports that “Supporters of the deal say it will allow the UK to negotiate its own trade deals with other countries.” (2)
“I think we can strike a deal as the Canadians have done based on trade and getting rid of tariffs” and have a “very, very bright future” said Boris Johnson according to The Week. (3) However the EU will not want to be seen to reward the UK for leaving, with a set of too favourable trading deals, as it may just inspire other disillusioned countries to leave the Brussels based power bloc too.
Silver Lining 3: Enhanced national sovereignty
The Oxford dictionary definition of national sovereignty is “a self-governing state.” (4) Wikipedia describes how “sovereignty is a substantive term designating supreme authority over some polity. In international law..sovereignty refers to the exercise of power by a state. De jure sovereignty refers to the legal right to do so; defacto sovereignty refers to the ability, in fact, to do so.” (5)
The new government in Westminster may be able to ‘take back control’ of many of the UK’s laws that they deemed were unfavourably set by the EU, as the leavers campaign trail slogan demanded. Successful updating of importing and exporting rules and laws in the future could be of some benefit to millions of UK consumers and people owning businesses within Great Britain and Northern Island.
The interdependent nature of the global planet we live in may affect how transformative this perceived de facto advantage may be however as Ralph C. Bryant from Brookings explains that “Effective U.K. autonomy depends more on the complex web of economic, social, and cultural interactions with the rest of the world than it does on the U.K. government’s formal political power.” (6)
Silver Lining 4: Establishing a ‘Goldilocks’ immigration system
A ‘Goldilocks’ immigration system that perfectly suits the needs of the UK population might be within reach, whatever the detail of that may look like in the future. With none of the disadvantages of negotiating with another 27 member states in Brussels, Johnsons new government is free to design and agree an immigration policy that perfectly reflects the needs of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Island. The politicians in charge at Downing Street will not have to take into consideration the external factors that put pressure on leaders in Europe, with refugees arriving at their many borders, from some of the most politically turbulent parts of the world.
It is important to remember that we will need to keep our place as a sophisticated liberal society who sets an example by helping severely disadvantaged and desperate people, who otherwise do not have a safe place to live, because we can and also that it is the right thing to do morally. We also need to always be aware and teach our children about the positive contribution that European migrants and other international migrants have to our country.
Oxford Economics sites that “migrants who arrived in 2016 will make a total net positive contribution of £26.9 billion to the UK’s public finances over the entirety of their stay.” (7) That is of course is an extra bonus to the rich cultural contributions people who were born oversees make to our society. We should not forget the welcome addition to our working population in our ageing society that EU and other migrants have made and will hopefully continue to make, especially in areas like healthcare and scientific research.
Silver Lining 5: Environmental benefits of a weak economy
There is an environmental benefit to a UK economy that has shrunk as a result of all the uncertainty that the Brexit process has caused. Factories that are closed and offices that no longer exist in the city do not use the earths precious energy supplies. Manufacturing is one of the biggest polluters and less production in the UK at this time will cause less harmful emissions and may at least help us reach some of our national green targets quicker. People who do not have jobs do not need to commute by car or train and this change also saves fuel resources.
“Britain is on track to exceed its 2020 goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 37% and reducing the level of nitrogen oxides in the air by 55 percent compared to 2005 levels, and of ensuring that at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas are protected habitats.” states the Financial Times.
Although many targets will not be met in 2020 “Britain is on track to exceed its 2020 goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 37 per cent and reducing the level of nitrogen oxides in the air by 55 per cent compared to 2005 levels, and of ensuring that at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas are protected habitats.”(8)
Many modern families living on this beautiful island have a lot to loose now the UK is no longer part of Europe. Some families are formed of a combination of European and British, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish partners and family members and they have faced some hard decisions about whether to ‘move to Europe’ or stay in the UK with Brexit. Most people want ‘what is best’ for the UK but what they perceive is best differs from person to person.
The government have been taught a lesson never to assume the public’s view and rely on the country to vote in a particular way again. The proof of whether this massive change to our international status and bold new direction, will be the making of a bright future for the United Kingdom, is in the ‘eating’ or trying out of this fresh economic system that affects every aspect of our society. The proof will be ‘in the pudding’ as the traditional 14th century proverb goes.
(1) ‘Brexit: UK begins new chapter outside European Union’ BBC News 1 February 2020 BBC: Brexit: UK begins new chapter
(2) Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU, BBC News, Politics, 27 January 2020 BBC: All you need to know UK leaving EU
(3) ‘Brexit’ The Week, 8 February 2020 The Week : Brexit
(4) ‘sovereignty’ 11 February 2020 from Oxford Dictionary via google Sovereignty Oxford Dictionary search
(5) soverignty Wikepedia 11 February 2020 Wikepedia : sovereignty
(6) ‘Brexit: Make hard choices but don’t confuse sovereignty with autonomy’ Brookings, Ralph C. Bryant 21 December 2018 Brookings: don’t confuse sovereignty
(7) ‘The Fiscal Impact of Immigration on the UK’ A report for the Migration Advisory Commitee by Oxford Economics Oxford Economics Fiscal Impact of Immigration UK
(8) ‘Britain set to miss 2020 environmental goals’ Camilla Hodgson The Financial Times, 12 November 2019 The Financial Times: 2020 miss environmental goals