The last few year Britain has been talking about leaving the European Union. British Prime Minister David Cameron promised in 2013 an “in/out” referendum on British membership of the European Union in 2017, if the Conservative Party wins an outright majority at the next General Election, expected in 2015.
Polls have indicated that the UK public is divided on the question about an EU membership and anti-EU sentiment is sweeping through all three main political parties. The oppositions peaked in 2012 with more than half of the British voters wanted to leave the European Union (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2012/nov/17/eu-referendum-poll).
Cameron is facing growing pressure and election challenge from UKIP, the anti-EU UK Independence Party and has therefor adopted a tougher stance on Europe. He says that Britain want to do some things different and he wants to go back to what they were told in 1973 when Britain first joined the EU and the main purpose of the Union was trade.
What we can see is that Cameron is putting demands on EU, threatening to leave if EU doesn´t accept his requirements of reform and that he warns it will be the last attempt to renegotiation. If this works and EU agrees with the reforms it will send costly signals to the other member countries that as long as you threaten to leave the union you will get what you want. This is something that can lead to a negative domino effect where other countries start putting higher demands on the Union as well and start pulling the threads. If countries are starting to turn away from partly supranational agreements I believe that is something that could threaten the Union as a whole in the long run.
Apart from that, Britain is today the second biggest economic provider for the whole Union. If they withdraw it would lead to great negative consequences for the EU´s economy and for the UK`s domestic economy as well since around 3.5 million jobs in the UK are linked to the export of goods and services to the EU (http://blogs.ec.europa.eu/ECintheUK/uk-and-financing-of-eu-budget-more-to-what-figures-say/ ).
In case of a British withdrawal, a great economic priority would be to ensure no tariffs were maintained on the trade between the UK and the EU. If this fails it would mean that the British substantial export trade with Europe would suffer and businesses from other EU countries would see little point in investing there.
Some European states would probably see British withdrawal as a betrayal and would want to ensure that example is done to the UK to deter others from doing the same thing. For example cutting Britain out from a trade agreement that would be beneficial to them. Also a lot of arrangements would have to be done for workers within the EU that lives in Britain. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/lets-imagine-the-uk-votes-to-leave-the-eu-what-happens-next-9249248.html
A European Union without Britain is something that I think would decrease the economic interdependence and cooperation between both parts. It will affect the trade badly and therefore the relations between countries in Europe. Britain would be more isolated and that would have a negative affect for the British economy and Europeans working there, as well as for the companies and workers in other EU countries. In class we have been talking about economic interdependence and trade as something important for lasting peace. Could a British “betrayal” from the European Union be a factor for more conflicts between the European states in the future? What do you think the consequences of a British withdrawal would be for their relations to the remaining states within the European Union?