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What would be the impact of a Brexit on UK citizens and UK constitution? Asks Dr Tom Flynn

What would be the impact of a Brexit on UK citizens and UK constitution? Asks Dr Tom Flynn, Teaching Fellow in the School of Law at the University of Warwick.

"'We want out country back’, say the leave campaign. The problem is, they can’t get it back because they never lost it. The way that ‘sovereignty’ is being spoken of in this debate is a century out of date, and imagines a world where national borders are impenetrable barriers, behind which nation states may do what they please, without external interference or influence. The attempt to recreate this alleged paradise (which was nothing of the sort) is doomed. 'Vote Leave, Take Control’ they say, but this is 2016, and no-one is in control.

"The procedure for withdrawal in Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union is both simple and complex at the same time. It sets out that if a Member State decides to withdraw from the Union, there is a two-year period during which the state and the Union negotiate on the arrangements for withdrawal, and for the post-withdrawal relationship between the state and the Union. The agreement negotiated must then be passed by the Council (the heads of state and government of the remaining 27 EU states) by qualified majority vote, and submitted to the European Parliament for ratification by ordinary majority vote. However, if the negotiated agreement cuts across areas where competence is shared between the EU and its Member States, such as the internal market and agriculture (which it certainly will), then the agreement is classified as a ‘mixed’ agreement, which means that in addition to the Council and the European Parliament, the agreement must also be ratified by all the national parliaments of the remaining 27 Member States.

"It is not realistic to imagine that the UK would be given an easy ride in these negotiations. The economic and political weight of the 27 other states is greater than that of the UK alone, and the rest of the EU would never give the UK (or any Member State) a better deal outside the EU than they had inside the EU. Many of the Brexiteers have spent decades campaigning for this moment. It is remarkable that they have not thought through the mechanics better."


Alex Buxton

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