Counsel for the Debate
Stephen Hodgson and A.J. Brown have decided to test themselves by writing a series of ongoing debates for their Moot Times submissions. This week, they will be examining the arguments for and against Brexit.
The Case to Leave
The European Union (EU) as an institution is contrary to the best interests of the United Kingdom (UK) in 3 areas: it is undemocratic in practice, it undermines UK sovereignty in areas of national interest, and its economic model is increasingly outdated and stagnant in relation to global trade realities.
The UK, and the common law in general, operates under the principle that democratically elected individuals have the right to introduce legislation into the market place of ideas, and make the will of the electorate felt in doing so. The unelected EU Commission sets their own agenda and can promote or constrain developments accordingly.
The EU Courts, such as the EU Court of Justice, and the European Court of Human Rights, exemplify how the democratic rights of member states to have their issues decided by their own judiciaries are disregarded by the EU. The existence of these EU Courts, with their legal supremacy above all other European judiciaries, undermines the jurisdiction and national sovereignty of member states.
Finally, transnational trading blocs have been found to be wanting to the economic forecasts of the future. As most of the world’s economic growth in the next 50 years will take place in the developing World, countries such as the UK do not need the added bureaucracy of EU approval for trade. The EU has gone beyond its trade mandate and is becoming increasingly stagnant as result. By breaking away from the EU, the UK can make its own path and determine its own economic destiny in a world economy which is evolving beyond trade blocs.
The Case to Remain The United Kingdom exiting the European Union on populist grounds during a period of global problems requiring global solutions is a disastrous proposition. Isolation benefits no one, least of all those who isolate themselves, because the idea that nations are completely independent has been obsolete for decades. The dream of Brexit is the taking back of control from Europe, allowing the UK to no longer be beholden to international courts for its activities. However, while the nation may regain limited control it would still be beholden to international bodies. The UK stands to lose significant access to one of the worlds largest trading blocs in addition to limiting its ability to affect international efforts. No great effort, or technological innovation, by a single actor can solve the complex issues that affect the global populace. The greatest strength of the UK is not in her economic might, or military proficiency, it is in its ability to remain united. Division can be severely detrimental in initiatives that require worldwide buy-in, and a nation that managed to make the English and Scottish remain under one banner has the requisite skill set to assist in uniting larger blocs toward a single cause. Leaving the EU as a result of populist sentiment squanders this strength at best, at worst it sets an example that is detrimental to future endeavours by blocs to address global issues. This can only have a net negative effect on the UK in the future: either their prominence in the international community will be diminished as other nations rise to fill their niche, or their responsibilities to organizations like NATO will increase as lesser powers begin to withdraw from the world. Perhaps neither of those scenarios will come to pass, but is it worth the risk to maintain what amounts to an illusion of autonomy?