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Speakers for our 2016 Event

  • Lord Davies of Samford, Member of European Affairs Committee, The House of Lords
  • Rt Hon Tom Brake MP,  Shadow Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs for Liberal Democrats, House of Commons
  • David Campbell Bannerman MEP, a conservative Member of the European Parliament 
  • Stephen Gethins MP, Europe Spokesperson of the Scottish National Party
  • Richard Howitt MEP, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the European Parliament
  • Professor Richard G. Whitman, Senior Research Fellow, UK in a Changing Europe programme and Director of the Global Europe Centre, University of Kent
  • Ben Harris-Quinney, Chairman, The Bow Group
  • Marc Glendening, Campaign Director, Democracy Mouvement
  • Lord Hannay of Chiswick, Former UK Ambassador to the UN and Member of the House of Lords

What impact will brexit have on the international influence of the UK and eu?

The recent referendum in the Netherlands which opposed the free trade agreement with Ukraine actually illustrates the rise of Euroscepticism within the EU countries and the division between Western and Eastern Europe. An important factor in the rise of Euroscepticism in the UK, regardless of its legitimacy, is due to migration from Eastern Europe. The UK has a significant number of communities from France, Italy, Spain and Germany and they rarely get mentioned in the EU membership debate. In the same way Britain has communities residing in these countries too. This will likely continue in the case of Brexit as both parties do not consider any inconvenience in this arrangement.

The EU is struggling with the mildly Eurosceptic Government of Poland and the radical Government of Hungary. Brexit in parallel with increased friction between these Governments and the Governments of Western Europe (mainly France and Germany), or EU institutions, and the rise of Euroscepticism due to free movement of workers would widen the division between the two parts of Europe.

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Added to that, the relationship with Russia remains a question of differences amongst different countries within the EU as to the cost of containing Russia through sanctions increases. Given that there is some concern in France, Germany and Italy regarding the trade cost of containing Russia and many within these countries even argue that Russia presents no threat to their countries and they have to bear these costs for their eastern neighbours.  Moreover, the two sides of Europe have different views on the question of the refugees. Given all that, Brexit can be a catalyst bringing this division to the agenda of countries from different parts of Europe. Options in the opposite directions of the greater ever union will be considered more seriously by different countries. The future of the EU unity will be faced with serious continuous challenges in the event of Brexit.

For the UK, the main question of unity involves Scotland. Some argue that as Scotland is a pro-EU country it would eventually leave the UK through a referendum in the event of Brexit. It is important to note that the main driver for seeking the independence vote was that laws are made in Westminster instead of Holyrood. Furthermore, there is a possibility that Brexit can put the Northern Ireland political progress at risk with their deputy Prime Minister stating that his party will call for unification with the Republic of Ireland in the event of Brexit.

The above two scenarios bring with them a high risk that would ultimately affect the International influence the UK has.

There are numerous questions on whether the EU and the UK will maintain their status as united and steady influential players in the international scene in the case of Brexit.

The internal developments within both the UK and the EU will have significant impact on their international influence. An additional scenario is that the British public votes for Brexit and the UK renegotiates its membership with the EU and calls for a second referendum. This scenario will more likely help the UK maintain its international status and may prevent division within the EU. What is clear is that Brexit most definitely brings with it an uncertain path for the UK and the EU.