Leaving the EU - The BIG Questions

If the UK leaves the EU will it have access to the EU customs-free single market?

Will it have to pay customs tariffs – making British exports less attractive and imports more expensive?

A:

This will depend on the terms of the deal the UK manages to negotiate. If it negotiates a "pure" trade deal – without accepting rules of free movement – it will have limited access to the Single Market and may have to pay customs tariffs.

The UK is the world's fifth biggest economy and the EU's biggest customer. About half of the UK’s exports go to the EU and 16% of the EU’s exports go to the UK. Britain has 60 million consumers and the EU (without UK) would have 440 million. Who will have the upper hand in negotiations?

How long will it take to sign trade deals with non-EU countries?

A:

Trade deals take years to negotiate and Britain would have none if it left the EU tomorrow. The US has already said it would be in no hurry to sign a deal with a UK outside the EU.   

Would Britain regain its independence (full democratic control of its own affairs) by leaving the EU?

A:

It is sometimes claimed that Britain is ruled by Brussels. This is not accurate: the British Government and Parliament are far from powerless. Britain controls its own budget, currency, health service, armed forces, criminal law etc etc. 

Decisions taken by the EU are made in, not by, Brussels: they always involve British Government Ministers and MEPs elected by the British people. If Britain wants access to the EU single market it will have to follow many EU rules, whether it is an EU member or not. 

Britain would still have to abide by the rules of international bodies like UN, NATO, World Trade Organisation and IMF unless it quit them too.     

If England votes to leave the EU and Scotland votes to remain is there a danger of the UK breaking up?

A:

There is talk that a UK leave vote would lead to demands for another referendum on Scotland’s independence. An independent Scotland could apply for EU membership. 

What would be the impact of Brexit on the Northern Ireland peace process (in which the EU is a partner, and is based on cooperation of NI/UK and Eire within the EU)? What would be the reaction in Wales if it was forced to leave the EU and if it had not voted to do so?  No one knows.

Would Britain be stronger or weaker in the world outside the EU?

A:

It is probable that Britain’s membership of the UN Security Council would come under threat.  It would certainly lose influence over its neighbours in the EU (and in the Eurozone), and would no longer be part of a strong EU bloc at international negotiations such world trade or global climate talks.  The UK will have far less bargaining power in negotiations with the US, China or India than as part of a 28-strong bloc. 

Will the UK control its own border if it leaves the EU?

Can the UK stop EU workers moving to the UK and still have access to the single market? 

A:

The EU’s single market combines free movement of goods, services, capital and workers. Norway and Switzerland are currently required to allow free movement of EU workers in their countries as part of their access to the EU single market. 

Free movement works both ways. 

Would leaving the EU make Britain more or less secure?

A:

If Britain left the EU it would have to leave Europol (the EU’s law enforcement agency) and Eurojust (the EU Judicial Cooperation Unit).   

The British Head of Europol says that British police would find it harder to prevent militant attacks and fight organised crime if Britain left the EU.  

How would British farming fare if we left the EU?

Would the British Government be greener and support small farmers better than the EU? 

 

A:

For all its faults, the Common Agriculture Policy gives secure financial support to farmers in 7 year budgets. Outside the EU, farm spending would be up to the Government and subject to annual review. 

One UKIP MEP claims Britain had a perfectly good farm support scheme before joining the EU, and will have one afterwards.  But how does he know? An agribusiness intelligence report says the effect of Brexit on the British farm industry would be traumatic, with large cuts in farm incomes, bankruptcies, and elimination of small farms.

Will the British Government strengthen or weaken environmental protections if it leaves the EU?

A:

The UK has cleaner air, cleaner rivers, cleaner beaches and stronger protection for nature as a result of EU environmental laws. It would certainly not benefit from any future EU environmental law if it left.    

Will the EU Health Card still cover British citizens if the UK leaves the EU?

A:

This would not be automatic. Continuation of this protection will have to be negotiated with the EU, possibly with each of the 27 countries individually.

Would EU consumer protection apply to a Britain outside the EU?

Would the limits to the charges for mobile phone use within the EU apply to British citizens if the UK left the EU? How about EU air passenger rights?  

 

A:

Provisions in this area would not be automatic. 

Continuation of these protections would have to be negotiated with the EU, possibly with each of the 27 countries individually.

Would the UK Government have the same clout in making companies compete fairly as the more economically powerful and bigger EU?

A:

The EU has levied big fines on Microsoft, Google and other multinationals and forced them to compete more fairly. Britain on its own would be unlikely to stop abuses by big multinationals in the way the EU has?A recent backdated tax payment to the British Government by Google was criticised for being too small.  

What is the Brexit supporters’ plan?

We all agree the EU is far from perfect.  But many people say Britain is better inside the world’s largest single market, with its worker, consumer and environmental protections. That Britain is stronger in partnership with our neighbours, to ensure peace on our continent, and to influence the world and its future. 

A:

What is the Brexit supporters’ plan? We don’t know. What we do know, is that the UK will not enjoy the same access for its financial and services sectors without accepting the rules it already applies but will not be allowed to shape. The Leave Campaign has still to spell out the clear business case for investment once outside the EU.       

Can the UK stop EU workers moving to the UK and still have access to the single market?

A:

The EU’s single market combines free movement of goods, services, capital and workers. Norway and Switzerland are currently required to allow free movement of EU workers in their countries as part of their access to the EU single market. 

Free movement works both ways. Some 2.2 million Britons live in other EU countries. What would happen to them?     

Some of the UK's key public services are as dependent on low- skilled workers as on highly-skilled specialists, especially in hospitals and caring for the elderly. The NHS and care homes could face staff shortages.