Skip to 0 minutes and 4 seconds Hello and welcome to our Referendum Round-up
Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds for our course: Towards Brexit? The UK’s EU Referendum. I’m Anthony Salamone from the University of Edinburgh. Welcome to our Week 2 Round-up. This week is Referendum Week. The vote is on Thursday 23 June. I’m pleased to be joined this week by Dr Pontus Odmalm. Pontus is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Edinburgh. He specialises in elections and party politics, including the politics of migration. Welcome, Pontus. Thank you. Thanks for being here. Pleasure. Thanks. Let’s launch right into our questions. Once again, we’ve had many questions. We’ll try to do our best to work through as many of them as we can.
Skip to 0 minutes and 38 seconds First question, Pontus, is from Steve, who asks: Is it likely that the UK would have to make concessions on the free movement of people as part of a trade agreement with the EU in the case of Brexit? Yes, I think probably highly likely so, I think. If we look at the sort of cases that we know that have - that are not in the EU but have had some sort of deal with EU - say, for example, Norway and Switzerland - that’s part of the price that they pay. So they accept to be - have access to the Single Market.
Skip to 1 minute and 9 seconds But the EU has very strongly insisted on - well, then you have to accept the free movement of people, as well. So, in that sense, it doesn’t really matter for these two countries that are not part of the EU, because they’re still affected by the movement of people because that’s the sort of deal that they made. And this is something that’s been pointed out by various think tanks recently. The Centre for European Reform and Open Europe - and I think Open Europe has got a slightly Eurosceptic take on the EU and Britain’s membership.
Skip to 1 minute and 43 seconds So, they also are pointing out that it’s not this ‘magic’ outcome if you have a Brexit and then negotiate some sort of deal like Switzerland and Norway have done. It’s also worth pointing out that actually Norway and Switzerland have a much higher number of the EU migrants than the UK has, even though they’re not part of the EU. So, in answer to your question, Steve, I think, yes, would be the answer to that one. Yes, probably so. Interesting.
Skip to 2 minutes and 13 seconds Let’s move on to our next question from Pippa, who asks: As an EU citizen, and a UK citizen at the same time, if the result were to leave the EU would she have any recourse against the decision, which would effectively strip her of her citizenship rights? Presumably her EU citizenship rights? Yeah, I struggled a bit with this question, Pippa, because I wasn’t quite sure what you meant. So, I might get your question wrong. But let’s see how it goes here in my answer here.
Skip to 2 minutes and 37 seconds So, if you are - as a British citizen, and if there’s a Brexit, then your rights that you have in relation to the British state - they won’t change that much with the Brexit, because you have this contract with the British state, right? But if you move, in a post-Brexit situation, then the rights that you currently have as an EU citizen moving to another country, they will probably change, right? But it is unclear what will change and how it will change because that’s still up in the air. You’re getting different promises and different not pledges, but different sort of safeguards, I guess, from both the Remain side and the Brexit side.
Skip to 3 minutes and 21 seconds So, it’s not clear what will happen once you move to a different country. As long as you stay in the UK, as a British citizen, then your rights won’t change. I’m not sure if that’s what your question is after, though, because you’re looking about a recourse against the decision. So, I’m not entirely sure what you mean there, it might be one of those worth revisiting type questions. I suppose just as a quick follow-up to that, EU citizenship is very different from any other kind of citizenship - Yes. - you associate with, in that it sits alongside your national citizenship. Exactly. They’re tied together. It’s a bolt-on. Yeah, yeah.
Skip to 3 minutes and 58 seconds And so that would be that - certainly not what we usually think of when we think of citizenship. So that, while there are rights associated with it, it’s almost - being part of the EU is that you have these rights associated with EU membership that there are in the EU citizenship. Exactly, it’s like a bolt-on, as I said, and it only kicks in once you leave your country of nationality and relocate to another EU country. That’s when you become formally an EU citizen because then you have access to almost the same kind of rights as a national of that country. But, as long as you stay, then the EU citizenship bit of your citizenship doesn’t really kick in.
Skip to 4 minutes and 33 seconds It’s once you move to an EU state.
Skip to 4 minutes and 38 seconds The next question is from Dylan, who asks: As a student currently studying at a sixth-form college with ambition to attend university, how would a vote either to leave or to remain affect me? Well, maybe I’ll have a stab at part of this. Yeah, I mean, obviously a vote to leave or remain will affect everyone in the UK in a number of different ways. Looking at, for instance, is the UK a part of the Single Market or not, what effects might that have for the economy or for citizenship rights, as we were talking about. I think it’s best maybe we could think of this question in terms of education, because maybe that’s what you were talking about, in terms of universities.
Skip to 5 minutes and 12 seconds It’s always difficult to say what will happen in the vote of leaving or remaining, particularly of leaving because that would be a change in the status quo. We do know that universities get a lot of funding - research funding from the European Union. Obviously, that’s money that the UK has paid in and then, in a fashion, is getting back. It’s perfectly possible that the UK government could decide to replace that funding in the event of Brexit, but we don’t know. That would be up to the government. And I think one of the interesting things about this contest is obviously that the Leave side are not the government.
Skip to 5 minutes and 42 seconds And even if there were a change of government after the vote, the current Remain side - if David Cameron left, we could have another change of government. It would be up to the government of the day and Parliament to decide what spending priorities they had. So, it’s a very difficult situation in which, if people are making pledges of what they would do in the event of leave or remain, they may not be in charge the day or weeks after the referendum. And it may be up to someone else.
Skip to 6 minutes and 5 seconds Yeah, I might just add to that, which is - I guess - how you as a student will be affected by a Brexit - that one very obvious effect is that you might not be able to access the Erasmus programme, which is an exchange programme between the EU states. You might still be able to access it, but it might be very, very complicated and difficult, much more so than it is at the moment. It might also mean that the student body might become less diverse because the EU students who might be coming to the UK otherwise might go somewhere else. They might get a very homogenised body of students, which, you know, you may or may not like.
Skip to 6 minutes and 43 seconds But that could be an implication. It could also affect the number of EU academics, and there’s a lot of them in UK universities. They might be going somewhere else, so missing out on their research, their input, their views. So, I guess it would be a much less exciting university life in that sense, because there will be - the number of different people that will be coming, both as students and as staff will be limited. I myself will probably not be here. I suppose it’s interesting to highlight, as well, because the higher education sector is something that’s quite distinctive and important to the UK. Exactly. There are a number of very high profile UK universities internationally.
Skip to 7 minutes and 25 seconds And teaching and research is a big draw for our students, both from the EU and from internationally, to come to the UK. We don’t exactly know what would happen. Not exactly, there’s the big question mark. But it’s most likely that we’ll see those types of effects, I think, in the long term, at least.
Skip to 7 minutes and 40 seconds Our next question is from José, who asks: What would the consequences be for EU nationals who are currently living in the UK now? Presumably in the event of a Brexit? Yep, that’s something I’ve been thinking of myself as an EU national living in the UK. And I guess what’s - I think the difficulty with this referendum and this debate is there’s so much unclarity. There’s so much uncertainty. There’s so many ‘known unknowns’, I guess you can put it and call it. But both sides are making different claims, right? And both sides are saying nothing will change, a lot will change. And, you know, it will happen very slowly. So, we don’t really know what’s going to happen.
Skip to 8 minutes and 17 seconds And I think, in the short term, because it’s a process - that if there’s a Brexit there’s a process involved that will take a very long time. So it’s not going to be, you know - if it’s a Brexit decision or Brexit majority, then the next day everything goes completely back to normal. It’s a long process that will happen. So, the short term probably you won’t - on a day-to-day basis you won’t notice that much of a change because there’s lengthy negotiations involved. It could be that, for example, access to health care, access to the NHS There might be a fee involved like it is for third country nationals. That might be something that you’d see in the short term.
Skip to 8 minutes and 56 seconds There’s also the issue about how do you deal with EU nationals who have been residing in the UK for a very long time, say more than five plus years? They’ve got some sort of permanent residence here. They’ve got jobs. They’ve got families. But they may not be British nationals, right? So how would you - what is their status there? Do they have - the rules for mobility and residence - is that, are they the same as they were when they moved, because they were EU nationals, or would the new rules kick in afterwards that will be negotiated? That will take - that’s still not decided, and it will take a long time to negotiate and to have hammered down.
Skip to 9 minutes and 34 seconds I guess it’s clearer if you have someone trying to move in post-Brexit, because then you have a new situation. But it’s still - I’m still not sure what’s going to happen to the very large number of EU migrants who are currently living in the UK, who’ve been here for several years. That’s still - that’s not obvious. I guess, at one extreme, is that you may risk deportation, especially if you’re not working, because the whole idea of the EU mobility was that you move for work purposes. And, if you’re not a national, then that’s the risk that you take, because you might get deported. Because you can’t deport nationals, obviously. We’ve got another question on immigration
Skip to 10 minutes and 16 seconds from Beverly, who asks in particular: If we stayed in the EU, would immigration be addressed?
Skip to 10 minutes and 22 seconds So, I think, she goes on to say: Would there be further reforms of immigration, as it’s been such a controversial issue? It seemed to create significant divides between people who want to stay and people who want to leave. And, just as a follow up to that,
Skip to 10 minutes and 34 seconds she asks: What’s the point of opting out of Schengen if we still can’t control the numbers of people coming to the UK? Yeah, immigration is an interesting one because this hovered around the top five important issues in the UK for a very long time. And now it’s sort of sailed up to the - I think it’s the most important issue for people. Which is odd perhaps, because it’s more important than jobs and taxes, etc. So it’s probably - most likely it will continue to be a very important issue for the public and for governments and for various other actors, right? So, let’s just see here.
Skip to 11 minutes and 14 seconds So, we’re asking here: what’s the point of not being part of the Schengen if we still can’t control? And I think that is probably an exaggeration. I think there’s still - the British state still is in control of borders, still has control over who comes in. We see that, because it’s not part of the Schengen Agreement, people still have to show their passports. There’s also the issue about border control being extended into the country. So, it’s not just flash around your passport and then that’s it. Well, now we have, you know - landlords need to check that the people they’re letting accommodation to have got the right to live here. And that’s an additional border control.
Skip to 11 minutes and 53 seconds So, you can say that that constitutes the British state exercising the right to entry or controlling immigration in some sense. Plus the check on tenants, employers likewise have to show that they employ someone that is allowed to be in the country. And access to benefits, as well, is not straightforward. I think that’s worth as well as pointing out. And if you’ve ever been involved in trying to claim benefits, just the amount of forms filling in and the complicated rules involved in this - so, that is one way of, I guess - they’re sort of trying to dissuade people from coming.
Skip to 12 minutes and 29 seconds So, making - because it’s difficult to prevent people from coming - you can make it more and more difficult to access various parts of the welfare state - making it much more laboursome and difficult, I guess. So, that’s one way of controlling immigration in a sort of roundabout way which is still going on. It has been going on for a long time.
Skip to 12 minutes and 49 seconds Caroline has asked a question, which is: There doesn’t seem to have been much debate about education. How could the EU better manage the funding of education to ensure that young people don’t start off debt-ridden and they’re well equipped to support the EU as it continues to develop? Yeah, I mean - I think that, when we talk about education - I think that this leads back to some of the videos that we’ve had earlier in the course about the division of competencies in the European Union. Obviously, that the EU does not manage education, as it were, in terms of the day-to-day basis.
Skip to 13 minutes and 17 seconds That’s a competence which is for nation states or even, in the case of the UK, that’s devolved to the nations, such as Scotland, Wales and also in Northern Ireland. So, in terms of who manages education on a day-to-day basis, well, it really is either those authorities or often local authorities. So, that’s not something that the EU would necessarily have the capacity to do. I think that, in education, the EU’s role is very much a sort of an add-on complimentary role of providing research funding or facilitating mobility.
Skip to 13 minutes and 45 seconds As you mentioned, Erasmus for instance, which I think it’s important to keep in mind Erasmus is not just for undergraduate students moving abroad - moving back and forth - it could be for postgraduate students, it could be staff training schemes, and also other youth and support initiatives. It’s quite a broad remit of programmes. And, so, very much what the EU does is meant to be sort of complimentary. And so, education is an example of where the EU does not really do things on a day-to-day basis. It has an add-on role, because that’s what its Member States have decided that they want the EU to do.
Skip to 14 minutes and 15 seconds Yeah, and just to add to that, I guess, it would be very difficult or extremely controversial if the EU would come up with something that tried to dictate what states should do in terms of education. Because that seems to still be so tightly linked to national identity, for lack of a better word. It’s so part of what is at the fabric of society that it will be - I think states and local governments would be very - will fight very hard to let that go off somewhere else. Especially if something has been devolved already, and then trying to, sort of, ‘revolve’ it up to the nation state or the supra-state level.
Skip to 14 minutes and 52 seconds I think that will be extremely difficult to accomplish and not effective.
Skip to 14 minutes and 58 seconds Oscar asks a question about: At present, which countries can UK citizens travel to without a visa, and could similar arrangements be put in place in the case of vote to leave - presumably instead of free movement I suppose - and how likely would it be for that to happen? Yeah, at present, when we have - when the UK still part of the EU, then there’s no visa involving those other EU countries.
Skip to 15 minutes and 22 seconds If you’re going to, outside of the EU - then you have, if you go to the US, for example, you have the visa waiver system for some countries that are on some sort of safe list, I guess, which is - it’s a type of visa, I guess, because you have to apply for it and you have to pay a fee, but it’s much more - a much more simplified process. If you go elsewhere, then, I guess, it depends on where you go. Then, sometimes you probably have to apply for a visa, there might have tight restrictions on what you can and cannot do in terms of work and access to services.
Skip to 16 minutes and 2 seconds So, they’ve got a little bit of variation there, but in terms of - well, in the EU countries, as well, there’s obviously no visa requirement - the free movement theme. But other countries - it differs a lot, I think. Some are more restricted in terms of the visa requirements. Others are more lenient.
Skip to 16 minutes and 21 seconds Sheila’s got a question which says that: If we were to leave, how many years of disruption would that cause?
Skip to 16 minutes and 30 seconds Who was that? Sheila. We’re moving on. Sheila. Oh, right. Yes, yes, that’s another interesting question. Because we’ve got some different narratives here. And one sort of - and they’re both - one is sort of - might be overly pessimistic - positive in the sense that it won’t happen. It will be little disruption, but it won’t be for very long and there will be deals negotiated. And the other side is that it will be disruption for a very long time, a lot of uncertainty, markets are going to go into turmoil, and it’s going to be very difficult. But I think it’s difficult. There’s no obvious or definitive answer here.
Skip to 17 minutes and 10 seconds But, in all likelihood, it’s - knowing how things work in terms of negotiations and decision-making and - the more people involved you have in trying to come to an agreement, the more difficult it is and the longer it will take. So, in all likelihood, it will take a very long time for any type of agreement, any type of deal to be settled. And, in the meantime, you know, there’s a lot of uncertainty, which markets don’t like. People don’t like that either, for that matter. So, it’s going to be - there’s no way of knowing how long that will take. But it’s probably an amount of time that’ll be where things are not going to be as normal.
Skip to 17 minutes and 50 seconds And that’s going to be - and that’s going to be tricky I think. I want to move on to a question from Tom, who asks about free movement again.
Skip to 17 minutes and 59 seconds He says that: Norway and Switzerland accept the principle of free movement as part of their relationship with the EU. Does that mean that anyone who has EU citizenship or residency has the right to move to those countries, to settle there, to get a job or so on, or are there are different degrees of free movement? So, for instance, is free movement different in Norway and Switzerland? I think I’d refer back to Steve Kirkwood’s question, because that touched on a similar topic here.
Skip to 18 minutes and 27 seconds And, I guess, if you look at Norway, for example, there’s been a union with the Scandinavian countries - which is very similar to what’s going on in the EU at the moment, with free mobility, no border checks, and some harmonisation of the labour market. So, that was already there. So, if you move from Finland to Norway, from Sweden to Norway, vice versa - then, you know, there is very little restriction. There’s no - there’s very little difference between the Swedish and the Norwegian nationals, right?
Skip to 18 minutes and 55 seconds But, in terms of the deal that exists between Norway and Switzerland and the EU, I think it’s quite similar to what’s going on in terms of the free movement, but it’s probably - there are some differences, there are some restrictions, and it’s not the same type of freedom that exists within the EU, but it’s probably quite similar.
Skip to 19 minutes and 23 seconds We don’t have too much time left. So I think we can take two more questions.
Skip to 19 minutes and 26 seconds One from Michael, who asks: What would a vote to leave actually mean? Would MPs, who he says are mostly pro-EU, be at liberty to vote to remain in the Single Market even if Britain left the EU itself? Or should there be another referendum to see whether the public agrees on what sort of option we might have in the event of leaving the EU? Would we stay in the Single Market and negotiate something else, or so on? Yeah, it was a great question I think and something that hasn’t really been discussed or argued - or, another area where we don’t have a clear definitive answer of what’s going on.
Skip to 20 minutes and 2 seconds And I think we can draw some parallels to the Scottish independence debate, where you had similar number of very important questions - from what to do with the pound, what to do with - could Scotland automatically join the EU? All these sort of statements that were, maybe not unsubstantiated, but they were not clear. And it was not a - there was no - there’s no sort of straightforward answers to these questions. So, this assumption that, yes, of course, Scotland will keep the pound. Well, that’s not - Scotland has no say on that, that’s, sort of, the Bank of England. And this - yes, there are sort of similar issues here.
Skip to 20 minutes and 42 seconds There’s a lot of wishful thinking going on, I think, and that things will eventually sort themselves out. And, as always, it’s a lot more complicated than that. And things might not sort themselves out in the short run, possibly in the long run. So, and if you’re talking about a consecutive number of referendums, then where will it stop? I mean are we just going to have -
Skip to 21 minutes and 4 seconds at some point we need to make a decision about: ok, so what are we going to do now? We can’t have a referendum about the referendum. Then nothing will - nothing will get done, I think. I also think this is a very fascinating question. I’ve thought about these issues myself, because it is very interesting that the referendum doesn’t ask people what they would want in place of EU membership. And it could be quite a wide range of issues.
Skip to 21 minutes and 26 seconds So, for instance, if there was a vote to leave, and one of the primary motivations for that is that people did not want to have the free movement of people, then in a post-Brexit situation the future UK government would sign up to the Single Market, that would be presumably undermining what the public wanted, but there would not likely be a consultation on that. Exactly. There’s a difference between having just a vote in Parliament or having another referendum to legitimate whatever post-Brexit deal there might be. So it is a very complicated situation.
Skip to 21 minutes and 51 seconds It reflects the fact that, unless the government decides to hold a referendum, the government and Parliament do have quite a lot of authority, as you would expect in a system of parliamentary sovereignty. Yeah, exactly. If you have to get some sort of agreement, it’s going to be - always going to be a minority, small or large, that is not going to be happy with whatever situation is being negotiated. And then it’s a never-ending series of referendums. New parties might form, in a UKIP-like fashion, against whatever deal is being negotiated. And that could start the whole thing - debate again, the whole campaign again, there might be another referendum, with the accompanying market turmoil and insecurity and the rest of it.
Skip to 22 minutes and 40 seconds So, I think this was a really interesting question that made me think about this question in a different way that I hadn’t thought about it so far. We’ve got time for one more question,
Skip to 22 minutes and 53 seconds and that will be from Anne, who asks: If Britain votes to stay in the EU, what damage do you think the campaign may have done to its relationship with the other EU countries, or do you think they’ll just breathe a sigh of relief the status quo has been preserved? Yeah, you know, again I’ll refer back to the question from José?
Skip to 23 minutes and 17 seconds Well, if the referendum - if the outcome is majority for a leave vote, then that’s it. Then there’s not going to be any negotiation about - the EU is not going to try to persuade Britain to come back. Because then - that’s what they’ve been doing so far, right? There’s been so many attempts from various EU officials to try and say ‘please stay’. But once the referendum is over, then that’s it. So, then it’s almost like damage control, I guess, after that. Then, it’s not going to be trying to sort of entice the UK to come back, because that’s the outcome. And EU has done what it can.
Skip to 24 minutes and 2 seconds And then, I guess - but I guess, also, you know – how long before we get to see changes fully negotiated? I guess, possibly, I guess, but it’s all a bit of speculation at the moment, because we - we’re still - there’s so many unknowns we don’t really know what’s going to happen. What we do know is if the leave side wins, then that’s it. There’s not going to be any pleading from the EU to stay. On this question, I suppose, of how much goodwill would the UK have in the vote of either staying in or leaving.
Skip to 24 minutes and 39 seconds I think that David Cameron perhaps himself personally might not have as much goodwill, considering he put all this effort into his renegotiation, which itself has not necessarily been that prominent in the debate, which has been very interesting. But, I mean, I would presume that the Member States would work with whatever situation there is. So, if the UK votes to stay in, that the EU will continue to do some of the things it’s been doing. So, there will be some changes relative to the renegotiation. If the vote were to leave, the other Member States would work with the outcome and they’d negotiate with the UK to find out whatever deal they all want to agree.
Skip to 25 minutes and 9 seconds So it’s not as if - the - all of the leaders, they’re politicians. They’ll work with whatever circumstances they have, and this is something that was really up to the UK and they’ll respect that - whatever the decision is. Yeah, I mean, hopefully, they will be adults about this
Skip to 25 minutes and 24 seconds and come to an agreement and not say: You’ve used up all your goodwill capital and I’m not going to talk to you again. But it will probably - there’ll be some tension, there’ll be some strains, because this is not what the EU wants.
Skip to 25 minutes and 36 seconds We’ve heard this several times: Don’t leave us, please stay. And, you know, the Conservative Party are incredibly split on the issue. I mean most of the MPs, I think, seem to be on the Eurosceptic spectrum.
Skip to 25 minutes and 50 seconds And then, you’ve got a tiny minority who sort of say: you know, the EU is not perfect. No big organisation is, I think. They all have their flaws. And the bigger they get, the more complicated they are. But, so, hopefully there will be some sort of trying to get a positive outcome of this, but it will take - it’s difficult to know, right? There’s a bit of speculation at the moment. Do we have any goodwill left? Maybe Cameron, like you were saying, has used up all his goodwill trying to renegotiate the terms. You know, they’re fed up with him coming in asking to add more exceptions, more opt-outs. But it’s difficult to say, I guess.
Skip to 26 minutes and 34 seconds We’ve just about run out of time. So, thank you very much, Pontus, for being here. Sure, thank you. Thanks once again. And thanks to all of you for your questions. We’ve got one more Referendum Round-up next week, which is when we’ll be analysing the result of the vote and looking at what it means for both the UK and the EU. So, please do send in your questions from the start of Week 3 when it launches on Monday. And the referendum is this Thursday. So stay tuned for that. Thanks very much. Thank you.
Anthony Salamone and Pontus Odmalm, Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Edinburgh, discuss questions and developments in the EU referendum in this week’s Referendum Round-up.
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