Regardless of whether ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’ wins the day. Because regardless of who wins, it won’t be decisive in either direction.
The question is to whom will we be the better neighbours?
If we Leave the Single Market we’ll be better neighbours to the Eurozone, they will be able to continue their integration through the single market, as the Five Presidents Report indicated was their preference. We will, genuinely, be better neighbour’s to the core; free to cooperate and collaborate without constantly checking the small print to see if their salvation impinges on our fundamental sovereignty. We would be rather hanging peripheral europe out to dry. Without our support they will find it harder to resist integration at the level of EU27, via the single market. Yes, Brexit might prove to be such a shock that the periphery falls away to EFTA regardless, but that is an unknown. That might allow nations such as Finland and Italy to escape the Eurozone, but again it’s an unknown.
If we Remain in the Single Market we’ll be better neighbours to the non-Eurozone countries, our presence will provide the tide that washes them safely ashore. Right now, there is a legal and moral undertow that is dragging the periphery towards full economic and political integration. Tomorrow would be the start of a process – which may take five years – whereby nations legally obliged to join the euro have the ability to say “no thanks”. Our continued presence with an exemption to ever-closer-union and the referendum lock will force the eurozone to integrate outside of the Single Market. Much as Cameron did with fiskal-union. That won’t come without pain and anguish in the eurozone however, because the urge to use the Single Market will be strong. Tax harmonisation via the SM? No! Fiskal tranfers vias the SM? No! Common liability via the SM? No! Speak slowly and loudly: “Within the eurooozowne!”.
The very process of attempting these measures at the level of the Single Market – necessary to make economic union survive and thrive in the future – will spin off peripheral nations into our orbit. The periphery will metamorphose into EFTA 2.0, with Britain as mid-wife. It will be a happier place all round, merely a question of how difficult the process transition proves for those involved.
A core able to integrate, a periphery happy to cooperate. Not a bad result.
p.s. people hoping for a tory civil war will be disappointed. tory’s are pragmatists in their enthusiastic pursuit of power.
p.s.s. Carswell building his exit strategy, saying that politics has room for outward looking optimistic insurgent parties.
update – 26.06.2015 – Calls for an economic Schengen. Hooray, sense at last that the Single Market cannot be abused to bring economic and political union to the 28.