“Even more dependent on the US for assistance in security”by Ian Bond / April 21, 2016 / Leave a comment
If the UK voted to leave the European Union, Britain would certainly change—for better or worse, depending on your point of view. But the rest of the EU would change too.
What happens inside the EU would be just as important to Britain after Brexit as it is now. Conflicts and crises in the continent would threaten Britain’s security, as they have for centuries. Britain would still want the EU to be stable and prosperous.
Brexiteers grumble that Britain has no influence inside the EU, and claim that it would have more outside. Remainers suggest that if the UK were to leave the EU, the other members would automatically oppose British views. Both sides are probably wrong. In four decades as a member, Britain has put its stamp on many important areas of policy. It would lose some influence, but not everything it has achieved would be erased.
Britain may still be among the most economically liberal countries in the EU, but there has been growing support for liberalising markets in goods, services and labour. That would not vanish if the UK left: Eurozone countries know that they need to improve competitiveness by opening their markets. Britain has made the Capital Markets Union, which aims to establish a European single market for capital, a priority project. It would probably move ahead without Britain, though perhaps with a stronger regulator and a bigger role for Brussels than the UK would have liked. Without the backing of Britain, however, fellow free-traders in the EU might find it harder to push for increased cross-border trade in services, let alone to open the market to competition from a non-member.