Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds Hello and welcome to our Referendum Round-up
Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds for our course: Towards Brexit? The UK’s EU Referendum. I’m Anthony Salamone from the University of Edinburgh. I’m pleased to be joined this week by Professor Laura Cram. Laura is Professor of European Politics at the University of Edinburgh and Senior Fellow in The UK in a Changing Europe programme. Hi, Laura. Hi, Anthony. Thanks for having me. We’ve got lots of questions, and we’ll try to do as best we can to work through some of them.
Skip to 0 minutes and 29 seconds We’ll start, Laura, with a question from Olga, who asks: If the UK’s EU referendum referendum is for ‘Leave’ would Prime Minister David Cameron resign? Well, interesting question. Whether or not he’ll resign unilaterally or whether he’ll be pushed into resigning is a different question. I think it’s very, very difficult to imagine his position would be sustainable if it was a ‘Leave’ vote. There would certainly be internal pressure and a lot of discussion - in fact, a lot of Leave campaign is about an internal Conservative Party coup, if you like ‘ a positioning for the next leadership. So, yeah, I think if there is a ‘Leave’ vote it would be very, very difficult for David Cameron to maintain his position as leader.
Skip to 1 minute and 11 seconds We’ve got another question from Wing Ki, who asks: Would Parliament or the UK government follow and implement the result of the referendum, whatever it is? Again, this is interesting. The Parliament has the right, if you like, to do what it likes. And there would have to be legislation to put that change in place. But, I think most commentators would say that it would be political suicide to go against the will of the people. If you put a referendum out there,
Skip to 1 minute and 38 seconds if you say to the people: this is what we consider to be a really important issue. We know it’s something you care about. Would you like to stay? Would you like to go? If they say they want to - to go against that would really be a very, very bad precedent in public eyes.
Skip to 1 minute and 56 seconds We’ve got another question from Anne-Ga??lle, who asks: Is Scotland likely to launch a new bid for a referendum on independence if the UK votes to leave the EU? Ah, well, again, remember that Scotland is mixed. Although, overall, in the polls, there’s evidence that there’s less inclination to leave, and somewhat more inclination to stay in the European Union, that’s of course made up of a diverse population. There are both Leavers and Remainers. And, also, within the Scottish population, not everyone is in favour of independence, as we already know.
Skip to 2 minutes and 30 seconds There will undoubtedly be pressure from those who came very, very close in the Scottish independence referendum, who will feel that, if they are removed from the EU against their will, then they would have grist to their mill to reopen that entire debate, because their argument is that they have not been able to have control of their own decisions, and this would be a real exemplar of not having control of their own decisions. That said, there is really no strong evidence that the Scottish Government would be in a rush to have a second independence referendum.
Skip to 3 minutes and 7 seconds So, although it has been said by Nicola Sturgeon, that a vote to leave the EU would in fact be a material change in the relationship between the UK and Scotland, and therefore would warrant the calling of another independence referendum, in practice, they would face a lot of very, very, difficult issues. If you’re in the middle of Brexit, if you’re in the middle of huge uncertainties and changes around that, it probably isn’t a great time to actually be calling for a referendum. A lot of the conditions under which they were making a case for Scottish independence would have changed, not least that you wouldn’t inevitably be part of the Single Market, for example. And, so, it’s certainly not an automatic thing.
Skip to 3 minutes and 50 seconds It’s likely that there will be a public call from a fairly vociferous part of the population, but whether there would actually be a speedy shift to a referendum, I think is questionable. So, just a quick follow-up question, maybe, on that point. You mentioned, obviously, that Scotland had its independence referendum debate in 2014, on the referendum, and that debate has continued, whereas in the other parts of the UK - in particular, England - we haven’t had a referendum in quite a long time. Do think there’s been a difference between the debate in Scotland and the debate in the rest of the UK because Scotland has had a referendum relatively recently? Yeah, definitely.
Skip to 4 minutes and 26 seconds In fact, one of the things in the Scottish independence referendum was Europe. Europe was really, really heavily debated. And, in some ways, you might have thought that would mean that there would be, if you like, a more informed debate going on in Scotland, but, actually, I think what’s most interesting is that we’ve had less debate going on in Scotland. The issue is more or less resolved, if you like, in Scottish minds - EU membership, if not a fabulous thing, then a good enough thing, and that that’s where the propensity lies. All of the major political parties in Scotland ‘ the views that are coming from them are that they are in favour of EU membership.
Skip to 5 minutes and 5 seconds And I think that has made for a different nature of the debate. It’s new, it’s a much rawer issue, if you like, in England, whereas, in Scotland, a lot of those feelings and debates have already been played out.
Skip to 5 minutes and 21 seconds We’ve got a new question from Elaine, who asks: how easy would it be for UK citizens to move to other EU countries in the event of the UK leaving the EU? Yeah, that’s really, really hard to answer, because a lot depends on - in the event of leaving, what would then be negotiated with the European Union? So, there are various possible scenarios. One that’s quite commonly expected is that there would be an attempt to remain part of the Single Market, in which there would still be free movement between the various European countries, but not to all of the legislation. That would be something, a wee bit like what other European Economic Area countries have.
Skip to 6 minutes and 6 seconds However, there’s a strong case - the Leave campaign are making a strong case, that they wouldn’t want to part of the Single Market. If something like that were to be negotiated, then one wouldn’t make the assumption that there would also be this free movement. And the free movement that we discussed - that people can come and live here if they are European citizens, but of course that also applies to UK citizens that want to go and live and settle in other European countries. And that would be a matter of separate negotiation. And, again, you have to assume some kind of goodwill on the part of the other Member States in that scenario.
Skip to 6 minutes and 35 seconds So, if you are not a Member State, then you are asking for access to free movement provisions, or other protections or access to the Single Market, and much of that is dependent on what the other Member States - you won’t be deciding that negotiation at that point.
Skip to 6 minutes and 54 seconds Arthur’s asked a question: If we vote to leave the EU, how long would it take to negotiate a free trade agreement, or what the conditions might be on that kind of agreement? Again, this one’s quite difficult. There is some discussion - there is an article in the treaty called Article 50, which would typically be trigged on a Member State deciding to leave, and that gets you a two-year period to make your negotiations with other Member States. But there is provision within that that, if you can’t manage that within two years and, if all the other Member States agree ‘ remember that they’re the ones to make the decisions at that point - then, you can actually extend it.
Skip to 7 minutes and 25 seconds This could go on, actually, quite a long time. But, again, there has been some discussion today that, in the event of Leave - Chris Grayling is saying, for example, that they might not trigger the Article 50 procedure, but actually attempt to have a more informal negotiation, and to try and a Single Market, internal market conditions at the same time. So come out with a whole package at the same time. The truth is, it’s really something that none of us know, in matter.
Skip to 7 minutes and 26 seconds It depends on attitudes of the other Member States, it depends on what we’re asking for and, ultimately, what was the balance of the vote might make a difference, if it were a strong case or a weak case, as well. Genevieve has got a question about the renegotiation.
Skip to 8 minutes and 24 seconds She asks: Is the deal that David Cameron negotiated signed and sealed, or it is only a proposal or something that has been agreed in principle, and what are the changed that would likely come in if the UK were to stay in the EU? Okay, that’s a good question, as well. Yes, so David Cameron negotiated a new settlement with the European Union, and the key provisions were on things like economic governance, making sure that other Eurozone countries, while they progress in areas that they’re interested, they can’t force the UK to continue in that direction, and, for example, that the UK wouldn’t be responsible for bailouts to other Eurozone countries.
Skip to 9 minutes and 10 seconds And there were commitments to competitiveness, to continued competitive trade and to reducing regulation. Particularly thorny ones in terms of this question are ‘ there are also provisions on access to in-work benefits for migrant workers arriving into the UK from the EU. And also the indexing of child benefit for the children of migrant workers. Now, both of these are, of course, thorny legal issues in terms of the free movement of workers. In all cases, the general expectation is that this has been a solemn commitment from the other Member States - that they have agreed that they will implement these, and most commentators would say - they would expect that good faith to be followed through by the European Union institutions.
Skip to 10 minutes and 7 seconds Where there is some question is on if these provisions, particularly the ones on benefits for migrant workers, if these could be contested in the court. And that point, that’s something that Member States don’t have control over. So, although they themselves have given a firm commitment that they would sign up to these provisions, they would support these provisions - if they are challenged - and challenges can come from individuals through national courts into the European Union, then they can’t guarantee how the court will rule, because deliberately - and quite rightly - the European Court of Justice is an independent body. And that’s to make sure that Member States do what they say they will do when they sign up to it.
Skip to 10 minutes and 50 seconds So, I guess that’s the one caveat, there. It’s not that the principles haven’t been agreed upon in good faith, but that you just don’t total control over what would be a legal decision if it’s decided it’s not really in line with the principles of the EU treaties.
Skip to 11 minutes and 8 seconds James has got a question, and is asking: How would an exit from the EU affect foreign students studying in the UK? Again, it’s quite difficult. That’s all really to do with what will get negotiated at the time. I guess by foreign students, you’re meaning European Union students, because for international students, one wouldn’t expect the conditions to change significantly. For European Union students, though, part of their access to the fees structure is as a European Union student. Again, there are other aspects - aspects like access to healthcare when you’re in a country that’s not your own, a European country is covered by provisions that are part of being a European Union citizen.
Skip to 11 minutes and 49 seconds Although there are things like your European health card, which do in fact extend beyond the European Union and aren’t simply an EU system. So, it’s really hard ‘ again, it will depend on the negotiations. There’s no expectation that people would be suddenly thrown out ‘ there’s always in EU negotiations some kind of transition agreed, but a lot will depend on reciprocal arrangements. Again, bearing in mind that one would expect that the other countries will still be wanting their students to come here, and the UK will still be wanting to send its students to other countries for that educational experience.
Skip to 12 minutes and 27 seconds So, although, yes, there will be changes, and, yes, we don’t know exactly where we are - nearly always things get worked out between states, and they did before there was a European Union, and I guess they would afterwards, as well. Gillian has a question about UK citizens living in other parts of the EU. She says that her son lives in France, he’s married to a Frenchwoman and works in Paris. And if the UK voted to leave, what would the impact be on him - so the impact on UK citizens living in the rest of the European Union.
Skip to 13 minutes and 15 seconds Again, I guess this is similar point to the one with the students, in that sense that we don’t know exactly ‘ we don’t know exactly what will be negotiated, but we do know that the current status of a UK citizen living in another land is predicated on them being a European Union citizen. So, the protections that they have, the ambassadorial positioning - you can go to any European Union office and ask for help, as relevant. The conditions under which you can for vote, for example, in local elections are part of your European Union citizenship arrangements. And, again, we have this question of, if you are getting access to a foreign healthcare system, that’s predicated on being a European Union citizen.
Skip to 13 minutes and 49 seconds But, that’s not say that an exited EU would choose to pay in, to buy in in some ways to those systems. But, at the moment, it’s a bit uncertain ‘ we don’t know yet - know what that would be. Mami has asked a question of what effect a Brexit could have on the other Member States of the European Union? Yeah, this one’s really interesting. One of things we know is that, for the most part, the elites, the leaders of the other Member States are very, very keen to make sure that the UK stays. And one of the reasons for that is that, you know, there’s quite likely to be a contagion effect if the UK leaves.
Skip to 13 minutes and 50 seconds So, we’ve got really quite strong movements for Nexit, we call it for the Netherlands for exit. Obviously, we’ve already - we’ve been watching the Grexit debate for some time in Greece.
Skip to 14 minutes and 16 seconds We’ve had rumblings in places like Hungary. So, you know, this could really have a quite a significant effect. It really raises questions - people, I guess, had come to think that the European Union was a given. And the UK leaving ‘ one of the major, dominant Member States leaving would be significant. So, although the UK has always been sort of an awkward partner, and, if you like, always been semi-peripheral in certain aspects of the European Union. For example, we opt out of the euro, we opt out of the provisions on the Schengen, which allows for people to move across borders freely.
Skip to 15 minutes and 18 seconds At the same point, it is one of the big Member States and it would be a quite a signal to the European Union. You have a different perspective on this from some of the publics about what they think about UK membership. You know, for example, some of our colleagues here at Edinburgh have done some research where they’ve found that as many of 40% of French public that they interviewed, surveyed would be quite happy to see the UK go. So there is a bit of a sense that people are getting a bit tired of dealing with this awkward partner.
Skip to 15 minutes and 44 seconds And I think that may be quite relevant this time around when they’re trying to negotiate afterwards, if you’ve reached the end of the goodwill of those partners. Anne has asked a question of how many countries might be eligible to join the EU in the future, and does this include countries outside of Europe? Yeah, what is Europe has always been a really interesting question. Yes, I would think that it could include countries outside of Europe, but it’s incredibly - I would say ‘Europe’ as in Continental Europe ‘ but they would then be European Union countries. Of course, remembering typically that the UK has always considered itself to be out of Europe.
Skip to 16 minutes and 23 seconds One of the most conversations we hear from here is: ‘Oh, I went to Europe’. There has always been a sense of difference. So the notion of European Union and Europe is always a bit different. How many countries could join? That’s really a decision about what’s best for markets. So, the European Union is really about expanded markets, stable markets. And, the limit ‘ and I guess, if you like, geopolitical security - so the two things have driven the European Union. And I guess the answer to that, and it’s a bit of a cop-out, because I couldn’t possibly put a number on it, how many - there are not lots more to come.
Skip to 16 minutes and 49 seconds But, the answer to that would be if it was felt that all ‘ and it’s always unanimous to let a new Member State come in. If it was felt by all of the Member States that it would benefit their markets, and it would benefit the security of their people, then they would be willing to have more Member States. And that’s always their judgement call - is that a benefit to markets and is it of benefit to the security of their people.
Skip to 16 minutes and 50 seconds And then we have other questions that hold up members - for example, what are your kind of democratic procedures, what are your human rights procedures, and only if those criteria are satisfied are people allowed to join the European Union. Just as a follow up to that - I know that many people might have seen that, in 2004, the EU enlarged quite substantially, adding in 10 countries, but I suppose that ‘ has the EU’s approach to enlargement changed since then? For instance, we’ve seen that the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is not keen for any new Member States to join during his five-year Commission presidency.
Skip to 16 minutes and 51 seconds And, if future, perhaps, if the EU does enlarge, it will be on a much smaller basis - one country at a time. Yeah, typically, that has been more of the EU’s history. It’s tended to come in smallish blocs, and then that was a fairly substantial block, which was unusual, and was partly to do with unusual circumstances at the time. Yes, actually, in part because there aren’t lots and lots and lots of countries behind the door as well. There aren’t the same blocs that would make sense to come in under fairly similar conditions. Yes, I think the expectation would be that it would be a longer and slower of transition ‘ would be a bit slower.
Skip to 18 minutes and 41 seconds We’ve got a question from Sue, who asks: What would happen to the UK’s 73 MEPs that it currently has in the European Parliament if the UK voted to leave ‘ so I
Skip to 18 minutes and 44 seconds suppose the question on that would be: how long would they stay in that position in the Parliament? Would they leave straight away? Would they stay in the Parliament until after the settlement was complete for the UK to withdraw from the European Union? Yeah, that’s an interesting question. But my assumption would be that you would stay in place for as long as we are member of the European Union, because they would want to be able to shape the ongoing discussions that would feed in, even in small ways, to the process. But, yeah, I guess they would all be looking for jobs to be taking up as soon as that period was over. Right, that’s all we’ve got time for today.
Skip to 19 minutes and 31 seconds Thank you very much, Laura, for answering our questions. We’ll be back next week with our Referendum Round-up. So please do send in your questions as soon as Week 2 launches, and enjoy the rest of the week. Thanks very much. Thank you.
Anthony Salamone and Laura Cram, Professor of European Politics at the University of Edinburgh and Senior Fellow, The UK in a Changing Europe, discuss questions and developments in the EU referendum in this week’s Referendum Round-up.
Apologies for the sound quality.
© The University of Edinburgh CC BY SA 2016