IN or out? That’s the question that will soon be answered when the British go to vote today (June 23) to decide Britain’s future within Europe. No country has ever left the European Union (EU) before. There is no precedent that could help anyone understand what the consequences might be of the pullout, if indeed, happens.
The choice comes down to what should you value more, economy or sovereignty? If, the pullout happens, what should England prefer? The growth of its economy or the political power and autonomy over its policies regarding the EU and the rest of the world?
If we look at history, no other country can ever boast of a more proud history than Great Britain. After once controlling about a third of Earth’s surface, even if it left all its colonies later, it has still enjoyed an influential position in the world politics. Being part of the EU and its strong relationship with the US gave it a great bargaining power to help keep its influence intact. So why leave the EU? Why invite instability? The answer to this is sovereignty over its own national policies and interests. While it keeps its bargaining power through the EU, it can no longer have sole control over its trade, defence and other economic policies, which are all decided at the EU level.
But the subject becomes even more complex if we look at the post-BRitain’s EXIT scenario. What should Britain do after it leaves EU? Should it maintain the trade agreement seeing as EU is the biggest market for it? Or should it leave everything behind, start afresh to have complete control over its policies and laws but at the same time risk recession? The whole world looks forward to the Brexit voting as it will have ripples far beyond Europe.
So does this have any implication to India? It does. India ranks third in FDI in Britain after France and US. India sees Britain as an entry point to the huge EU market owing to Britain’s robust legal system and the convenience of English language.
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has warned that Brexit would harm investment by Indian businesses in the UK. Growing UK-India trade is a high priority for both the countries. Getting into EU market without UK will be difficult for the Indian companies as EU implies very stringent trade laws and India will not have much bargaining power with EU. But one flip-side of this will be, since UK will lose a lot of bargaining power after leaving EU, it could be more open to India’s demands in the future.
All said, Brexit, if it happens, will affect every major country and perhaps that is why everyone from US to India to China to the rest of the world is keeping tabs on the ever-evolving scenario in the EU.