Leave the EU = leave the UK?

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The United Kingdom decided on Thursday 23 June 2016 to leave the European Union, with a clear majority of 52%. The consequences will be felt strongly over the months and years to come, both from within the UK (the current UK Prime Minister David Cameron will quit in three months, with the former London Mayor Boris Johnson likely to replace him) and outside (a two years’ period will be opened in order to negotiate the terms of the withdrawal from the EU: see our previous post here: The process for withdrawing from the European Union as seen by the UK Government).

A huge amount of energy is going to be spent on renegotiating the entire relationship with the rest of the EU from all angles (free movement of persons, capital, persons, goods, judgments, competition law, financial law, consumer law, criminal justice, etc.).

Moreover, numerous agreements concluded by the EU with various countries will not apply anymore to the UK after the two years’ period and will have to be renegotiated. In its attempts to renegotiate these agreements, the UK will not be constrained by the demands of other EU Member States but it will necessarily have far less bargaining weight, especially when negotiating with a superpower such as China.

Some are wondering if the UK has not shot itself in the foot. Scotland voted with a large majority (62%) in favour of Remain, and the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon considered on Friday that a second referendum on Scotland’s independence is ‘highly likely’. She confirmed that her government will begin preparing legislation to enable another independence vote. It seems very likely, as of today, that, should there be a second referendum, Scotland will vote to leave the United Kingdom and join the EU as an independent State. It would be the end of the Union between Scotland and England. Northern Ireland also voted in favour of Remain and the fragile balance between the pro-independence and the pro-remain in the UK may be affected. 

(Altalex, 27 June 2016. Article by Emmanuel Guinchard)

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