International Office team up with the ALDE Party to answer the question ‘can Brexit be a success for Europe?’

Every year, the International Office delivers an extensive programme of events primarily aimed at diplomats and international guests at Autumn Conference. This year, in addition to this programme, they have teamed up with the ALDE Party to host a special fringe debate with a panel of liberal politicians from across Europe.

The fringe, entitled From a European Perspective: is a ‘successful’ Brexit possible?, aims to take a look at Brexit from the oft-forgotten perspective of other European countries. When – or if! – Brexit happens, it won’t just be Britain paying the price. Britain’s exit would constitute a monumental shift for the European Union itself and its member countries.

With a high-level panel that includes a former Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern (Fianna Fail Party), the Foreign Affairs Spokesperson of Polish liberals Nowoczesna, the fastest growing liberal party in Europe, and the Swiss Ambassador, this is bound to be a lively debate.

Our European guests will answer questions like ‘is Dublin the post-Brexit London?’, ‘will Poland fill the Eurosceptic void Britain will leave in the EU?’ and ‘can Britain emulate the Swiss example, and at what cost?’.

Liberal Democrats Catherine Bearder MEP and Ros Scott will be on hand to give a British perspective and share their experiences as an MEP and Vice President of the ALDE Party, but the focus will very much be on what challenges and opportunities Britain’s rash decision to leave Europe present to the rest of the continent.

Join the ALDE Party and International Office for this exciting debate at 16.30-17.30 on Monday 18 September in the Shaftesbury Suite in the Marriott Highcliff!

* Harriet Shone is Head of the Liberal Democrats’ International Office.

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21 Comments

  • When – or if! – Brexit happens, it won’t just be Britain paying the price.

    Similarly, I suspect it won’t be just Britain paying the price/reaping the benefits: obviously, some London financial activity will move to other EU members, Japanese company’s have recently told T.May that they will be making future investments in the EU and not in the UK…

  • Peter Martin 7th Sep '17 - 6:27pm

    If the future for the UK is as dire as many think why is the yield on 10 yr Gilts less than 1%? We’ll have sunk without trace well before then by all “reasonable” accounts.

    Why don’t people save their money in euros or dollars instead? Why lend money to the UK? We largely rely on gilt sales to fund our budget deficit. There’s a healthy demand. The interest rates in the US and EU can’t be much less but even at 0% surely their bonds would be a much safer option.

    The Bundesbank owns billions of UK gilts all denominated in pounds and continues to buy them. Do they know something we don’t? Maybe they think it’s not going to be so bad for either the UK or Europe after all?

  • Can Brexit be a success for Europe? I think there is an error here. We are not leaving Europe, we are leaving the EU. I shall assume that is what is meant.

    It depends on how one defines success. The UK brought a number of benefits to the EU including legal, diplomatic and foreign policy experience, intelligence, anti-terrorism and military strengths, and an ability to counterbalance the power of Germany and the ambitions of France. The Germans saw us as an important financial ally. These qualities will be sorely missed by the EU27.

    On the other hand, the UK never embraced the EU project with its aim of economic and political integration, the Euro and the Schengen agreement. Although the UK did not stand in the way, its importance as a member state created complications in the advancement of the project.

    The EU can now accelerate its dream of more Europe. The less enthusiastic member states have much less influence than the UK. The French will be euphoric about Brexit. Other states will have mixed views.

    The most important consequence of Brexit will be a huge reduction in EU funding and a dispute between those who contribute and those who benefit. This could prove to be very serious.

    I suspect that further EU integration and the corresponding weakening of democracy will make or break the organisation. Brexit will make it easier to proceed more rapidly and this may eventually lead to the failure of the project.

  • With regard to the secondary question which asks if Brexit can be successful, my view is that in the short term, Remainers and the EU are determined to make it as big a failure as possible. People here may share that objective.

    Once we are free to conduct normal relations with a wide range of countries, including the customs union of the EU, I have no doubt that the UK will have a prosperous, influential and dynamic future.

  • The UK is a very resourceful nation with many talented people. I see no reason why Brexit will not be a success.

  • @LibDemer – “The UK is a very resourceful nation with many talented people.”

    Hence I envisage that they/we will be successful; however, that is very different to claiming Brexit a success. Although the Conservatives specifically along with many Brexiteer’s, will try and claim such success as being wholly due to Brexit…

  • Leaving the EU will create opportunities such as the ability to trade with almost every country on the planet, our ability to make or change our own laws, freedom from the dead hand of bureaucracy in Brussels and the ability to create relationships such as science collaboration with any country and not have to do it through the EU as a bloc.

  • Peter 8th Sep ’17 – 5:32pm……….Leaving the EU will create opportunities such as the ability to trade with almost every country on the planet…

    Please list any we can’t trade with at the moment?

  • As a nation, we are not allowed to strike a trade deal with ANY country outside of the EU. Trade is an exclusive EU competence. Excuse me for not listing all of them.

  • Peter
    You didn’t answer expats’ question. They asked who could we not trade with, not where the competence lay in EU terms. As far as I am aware there are no countries in that category, apart from those where certain sanctions are applied. Do you know any different?

    I assume that you believe along with Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson etc, that a Britain outside the EU will suddenly magic up more advantageous deals than those current? If you don’t think that, then precisely what do you mean?

  • The distinction is not a trivial matter. The EU will trade with another nation when it judges that it is in its interests. When this involves 28 member states, there is no guarantee that the resulting deal will be in the interests of the UK. It may be completely against the interests of the UK. Either way, the UK may have very little influence.

    The trade deal may be very complex and difficult to complete as we have seen in the case of Canada with many different parties to satisfy. The EU is certainly not a dynamic, flexible organisation capable of quick decision making.

    I think there is no comparison in the types of trade and trade deals that a single, determined nation can make compared with the lumbering, multi-nation arrangements that are made by the EU.

    To answer the question more directly, we could not trade with any country that the EU did not wish to trade with, or trade if that clashed with another EU interest. We would not have a role in any trade negotiation.

  • I noticed that the EU estimates that by 2060 the EU members will comprise just 4% of the world population. All the more reason for regarding the internal market as a shrinking opportunity and world trade as the growth opportunity.

  • Plenty of opportunities for firms making id cards, immigration officials, border guards, troops to be stationed in Northern Ireland again, international trade negotiators, Banks in other European countries etc etc

  • Success will be if there is no trade war, no violence and no mass exodus from UK by desperate young people seeking opportunities that withered away in minimum wage, insular, ageing xenophobic, anti Science little Britain

  • @Alistair
    Rather sad.

  • Peter
    “It maybe completely against the interests of the UK”. So far you have only given a theoretical case – as we have asked you previously – what examples have you?

    Surely, if this deal does go through, following the same logic – what guarantee does Scotland or Wales have that such a trade deal negotiated by the Dept of Business or whoever else in London who may be given this task will not be “totally against their interests”?

    In relation to your last comment “rather sad”, I assume you mean that the consequences Alistair has drawn out for you would be “sad”. Yes, that’s true.

  • @Peter “I noticed that the EU estimates that by 2060 the EU members will comprise just 4% of the world population. All the more reason for regarding the internal market as a shrinking opportunity and world trade as the growth opportunity.”

    I love it (sarcasm) when people demonstrate their inability to comprehend numbers and thus use them to justify daft conclusions!
    By the same measure the UK’s population will in 2060 represent around 0.006% of the world’s population – for some strange reason Brexiteers think the rest of the world will see the UK market as a “must be part of” growth opportunity…

  • It depends what you mean by successful. Personally, I think if it means we pull away from the Disneyfied , dishonest, corporate rebranded Britain forged in the Blair years, downscale pretentions of global significance and concentrate politics more effectively on national issues then it will be a success. Hopefully, Europe and the UK will get over it eventually.

  • Peter 8th Sep ’17 – 6:10pm……….As a nation, we are not allowed to strike a trade deal with ANY country outside of the EU. Trade is an exclusive EU competence. Excuse me for not listing all of them………..

    I worked in the defence industry..At no contract meeting I attended (from ‘A for Australia’ to ‘U for USA’, via ‘M for Malaysia’) was there a single EU ‘commissar’…
    Sometimes we were partners with other EU, and non EU, companies and sometimes as competitors….We traded, and made profits, on every continent…

    Again, please list countries we could not trade with?…

  • expats
    “Again, please list countries we could not trade with?…”

    It’s not about CAN’T trade with, it’s about trading FREELY with, and open to creating trade options which are unencumbered by punishing tariffs purposely imposed to protect the EU’s internal markets.

    { From CapX }
    “The concern is not that Germany benefits from processing coffee. It is that Africa is punished by EU tariff barriers for doing so. Non-decaffeinated green coffee is exempt from the charges. However, a 7.5 per cent charge is imposed on roasted coffee. As a result, the bulk of Africa’s export to the EU is unroasted green coffee.”

    So in short, the EU is wilfully starving and crushing the African economy to subsidise rich French farmers and German food producers. How fair or liberal is that?
    A post Brexit UK, can if it wishes, help free up Africa to trade more fairly, and also gain cheaper food for UK citizens into the bargain. What’s not to like?

    Also, much ‘Green technology’ such as solar installations could be purchased far cheaper from the developing countries in the far east, but they too, suffer the same ‘anti-dumping’ EU tariffs in order to protect the high priced Spanish and German ‘solar market’.
    A free post Brexit UK, can begin to freely source its ‘green tech’, at a far cheaper cost once outside the EU’s restrictive protection racket.

    There are lots of similar open, free trade opportunities to be gained for a post Brexit UK, if only those persistent Remainers could take off their ‘EU blinkers’ and be prepared to be open minded?

  • Arnold Kiel 10th Sep '17 - 3:53pm

    The UK can trade with every country not subject to sanctions. In Germany, a reasonably successful exporter, nobody speaks of the EU as a hindrance to exports.

    After Brexit, the UK can buy from everywhere tariff-free. That assumes that there is no domestic provider in need of protection, and no intention to re-export these items. Unfortunately, this kind of “success” will add to your already significant trade-deficit.

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