Tuesday, August 22, 2017

De iure and de facto sovereignty: the Brexit case

According to the existing treaties and legal rules, the United Kingdom is a sovereign state that can decide its integration or separation from other organizations such as the European Union. Accordingly, the British Parliament decided to call a referendum more than one year ago to decide whether to remain or to leave the EU. The result of that referendum is well known: 52% voted to leave and 48% voted to remain. Those in favour of the Brexit option, such as Nigel Farage, said that the day after the referendum would be the Independence Day of the UK. However, more than one year after the referendum, the British have learned that it is not so easy to leave the EU. First, the operation requires a negotiation to establish the terms of the divorce. And, second, the British, even those in favor of leaving, still want to have some relationship with the other Europeans. It s just that the citizens were promised that they could pick those aspects of the relationship that they like and drop those that they do not like. They were promised a free lunch. The current British government seems completely unable to tell the truth to the voters, because it is intimidated by a tabloid press and a radical part of the electorate. Objective observers' only discussion now is whether a second referendum will be necessary to restablish the truth, or whether it is better just to leave things in a permanent transition, being part of the single market and accepting basically all the (judicial and financial) obligations that go with that, but without a seat in the table where the decisions are being made. It seems that the United Kingdom, a nuclear power and a former global empire, are much less sovereign that they expected to be. This is the story of the Brexit delusion.

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