Erstellt am: 7. 6. 2016 - 14:38 Uhr
Brexit brawl goes on, but who's read Article 50?
FM4 Reality Check
It's just over two weeks to the "Brexit" referendum, and polls in the UK are swinging towards the "leave" campaign.
David Cameron's TV debate against ardent "leave" campaigner Nigel Farage this evening is not likely to change the public mood.
Although the vast majority of politicians are in favour of "remain", they are starting to consider what might happen if "leave" wins.
Some are thinking about compromises, a sort of "Brexit light", which would preserve some advantages of EU membership, but it is hard to imagine that Brussels will be in any mood to allow Britain to "cherry pick" the parts of the EU it likes, and not participate in the rest.
However, while the "leave" campaign draws pictures of glory and prosperity outside the EU, they would be well advised to look at the mechanics of a Brexit. There is such a provision in the European Treaties under Article 50, and Brexiteers might be alarmed to see that a "leave" vote could leave them more at the mercy of Brussels than they have ever been before.
In today's Reality Check, political consultant Melanie Sully, outlined to Steve Crilley what will happen if the "leave" camp wins, and stressed that a half-Brexit is not an option.
Melanie Sully: I think Cameron's made it quite clear that he would recognise the vote, and according to the EU treaties what would happen is that he would make a statement to the House of Commons, telling them that he's invoking Article 50 of European Treaties. Now, this is the notification to Brussels that a decision has been made to exit the EU. That is not a mandate to negotiate, it is a mandate to exit the EU. There can be no mistake about that, and that involves several scenarios. It involves working out an agreement with the EU on the future relationship of Britain with the EU outside the EU. That means regulating things like UK citizens living in EU countries and vice-versa. Then there will be a debate in the House of Commons on this, but there doesn't have to be a vote. The European Committee can look at it and decide whether it needs to take evidence, or to have more information.
In that moment that the Prime Minister sends notification to Brussels, then this Article 50, with a two year negotiation clause, is activated. It doesn't have to be straight away, because there would be a few things to sort out on negotiating teams etc. and how the whole thing will play out. And also, important is, that once that [Article 50] is activated, decision making slips away from London to the 27 others, by nature of the European Treaties. That means Britain has to go cap-in-hand to the EU to sort out its future relationship. This is a relationship outside the EU, not with access to the single market at this point, everything has to be negotiated.
Steve Crilley: What about these other 27 members? Don't they have a say as well, because they have a say about any new member coming in?
Melanie Sully: Well, this is the point. They do have a say, all of them, in the shape of the EU, and there will be a lot of wheeling and dealing behind the scenes to make sure each country gets what it wants out of the whole thing, because really what happens then is that you have to change the treaties. Obviously, in the treaties are references to the United Kingdom. You've just got to get rid of that, so the treaties have to be changed, and at that moment when you open up the treaties, you could have Austria coming, Denmark coming, The Netherlands coming, all with their own idea of what a new treaty should be like.
The point is, though, that Britain is very much on the side-lines, watching at this stage, it is not at the negotiating table. The 27 will work out, "Yes, we see the future of the UK looking like this" and then present it to the UK. Of course, it can reject it, and then we have a problem. The UK will also be taking consultations and negotiations with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, who may have voted in a different way. So, there will be multi-negotiations going on, it could take quite a long time, and the fear is that the two years will be up before a package is worked out.
Steve Crilley: One British minister told the BBC yesterday, "The longer we move away from this referendum, the more pressure will grow to keep some links within the single market, so in other words, a Brexit, but a sort of "Brexit-light".
Melanie Sully: Once you've activated Article 50, it's for negotiation for getting out. Then you're out. Then you have to think about how to get back into some parts of the European Union that you like, namely the single market, which is good for trade. But that would be maybe on the basis of the Norway model, the Swiss model, the Albanian model or whatever, but not as an EU member. Now, it could be demi-detached or associate status, something like that, but you certainly don't get all the benefits for nothing. And one thing the EU would probably demand in exchange is free movement of people, exactly the problem which many people see with immigration and loss of control of borders.