Brexit would leave EU more anti-nu­clear, pro-fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tion tax, says LSE sur­vey

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

A ‘Brexit’ would leave be­hind a more left-wing EU, keener on busi­ness reg­u­la­tion and a fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tion tax and more anti-nu­clear, ac­cord­ing to re­search pub­lished on Tues­day.

Anal­y­sis by VoteWatchEurope found that in re­cent times, the UK has been the most out­voted mem­ber of the EU Coun­cil, whilst also los­ing in­flu­ence in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment.

Launch­ing the re­port in Brus­sels, Pro­fes­sor Si­mon Hix of the Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics, said, “mi­nus Bri­tish MEPs, there would be less al­lies for ‘anti-red tape’, less pro­tec­tion for copyright, pos­si­bly a ma­jor­ity for a Fi­nan­cial Trans­ac­tion Tax (FTT), and less sup­port for nu­clear and shale.”

He added that over­all, a Brexit could be “good for en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists”, in that the EU would likely end up “far more reg­u­lated.” Although he was quick to point out that the UK had been a leader in some ar­eas, such as for­eign aid and cli­mate change.

The 15-page re­port looks at UK in­flu­ence in the Coun­cil and par­lia­ment from 2004 to the present day.

It finds that the UK is the most out­voted mem­ber state in the EU coun­cil – although it has sup­ported some 97% of EU laws adopted in the past 12 years.

Drilling down into the data, it emerges that the UK was most at odds with the rest of the bloc over ques­tions of the bud­get, for­eign pol­icy and for­eign aid.

It finds that the big­gest in­di­vid­ual losers if Bri­tain votes to leave the EU on 23 June would be the Nether­lands, Swe­den and Den­mark, who are the UK’s “clos­est al­lies” in the Coun­cil, and would “lose an im­por­tant part­ner if Brexit oc­curred.”

And it con­cludes, “the main losers of Brexit among EU stake­hold­ers would be those that pro­mote less reg­u­la­tory bur­den for EU busi­nesses and stronger pro­tec­tion of copyright”.

The re­port also finds that – although the UK punches above its weight in terms of se­nior po­si­tions within the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, such as chairs of com­mit­tees and rap­por­teur­ships – it has lost in­flu­ence for two key rea­sons: the de­par­ture of the Con­ser­a­tive MEPs from the EPP in 2009, and the elec­tion of so many UKIP MEPs in 2014, who have a low vot­ing rate.

The re­port also finds that the re­main­ing 27 mem­bers of a UK-less EU would be pushed into pay­ing more into the EU.

Warn­ing about the “Leave” cam­paign’s prom­ise of a favourable post-Brexit trade deal with the EU, Hix said, “France and Ger­many would be very wary of the ‘con­tam­i­na­tion’ af­fect on coun­tries such as Hun­gary, Poland and Swe­den. “They would make an eco­nomic ex­am­ple out of the UK.” That was backed up by Neil McMil­lan, a for­mer Cabi­net Of­fice ad­viser to prime min­is­ters Tony Blair and Gor­don Brown on EU af­fairs, who told a Brus­sels au­di­ence of around 100 that “the other 27 mem­bers would be a bit pissed off with us”.

McMil­lan, now di­rec­tor of EuroCom­merce, warned that a Brexit would be a “dis­trac­tion” to a bloc of 27 deal­ing with both the refugee cri­sis and the euro cri­sis, and may even lead the EU to “start to dis­in­te­grate”.

And – in ref­er­ence to the two-year time­frame put on exit ne­go­ti­a­tions and a new trade deal for Bri­tain, he said it would “take a lot longer to un­ravel 43 years of mem­ber­ship”.

Ger­man MEP David McAl­lis­ter – who is half-Scot­tish – also poured scorn on the Leave cam­paign’s idea that the UK would be able to re­place EU trade with greater im­ports and ex­ports from the for­mer Em­pire coun­tries.

“If that is the case, why is it not a sin­gle Com­mon­wealth leader backs Brexit?” he asked.

Hix called it “an as­ton­ish­ing fan­tasy”, stat­ing that the UK cur­rently does more trade “with Poland than with Pak­istan, with Aus­tria than with Aus­tralia, with Italy than with In­dia, with the Czech Repub­lic than with Canada”.

McAl­lis­ter added that the EU with­out the UK would be “like fish, with­out chips. It would still ex­ist, but it would not be the same, or bet­ter”.

All pan­el­lists at the launch of the re­port said that turnout in the June ref­er­en­dum would be cru­cial to the re­sult, which would be “slim” which­ever way it went.

Speak­ing af­ter­wards, Hix said that turnout in the 50% range would be good for UKIP’s hopes of a Brexit, whilst in the 60% range and above would favour the re­main camp.

Dur­ing his cam­paign for re-elec­tion in 2015, Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron promised to rene­go­ti­ate the UK’s re­la­tions with the Euro­pean Union and or­gan­ise a ref­er­en­dum to de­cide whether or not Bri­tain should re­main in the 28-mem­ber bloc.

The Bri­tish leader said he will cam­paign for Bri­tain to re­main in the EU af­ter a two-day sum­mit in Brus­sels where he ob­tained con­ces­sions from the 27 other EU lead­ers to give Bri­tain “spe­cial sta­tus” in the EU.

But EU lead­ers had their red lines, and ruled out chang­ing fun­da­men­tal EU prin­ci­ples, such as the free move­ment of work­ers, and a ban on dis­crim­i­nat­ing be­tween work­ers from dif­fer­ent EU states.

The de­ci­sion on whether to stay or go could have far­reach­ing con­se­quences for trade, in­vest­ment and Great Bri­tain’s po­si­tion on the in­ter­na­tional scene.

The cam­paign will be bit­terly con­tested in a country with a long tra­di­tion of euroscep­ti­cism and a hos­tile right-wing press, with opin­ion polls show­ing Bri­tons are al­most evenly di­vided.

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