Brexit and Brexit plus

Published date01 June 2017
Date01 June 2017
Subject MatterEditorial
Brexit and Brexit plus:
The non-material
on 29 March 2017
If the art of steering the ship of state is to keep it away from the rocks, then calling the Brexit
referendum, for which there was no constitutional need, was an act of reckless seamanship.
Indeed Mr Cameron was accused of recklessness before and has been so accused since the
referendum. Thus, on 11 June 2015, Roger Liddle wrote in Policy Network that in ‘truth the
referendum is a reckless gamble with the nation’s future’. The Independent Newspaper wrote on
24 June 2016 that Mr Cameron ‘knows that his political epitaph will be as ‘the man who took us
out of the EU’ ( ...), because it was he who took the reckless gamble that changed the course of
Britain’s history’. The Listener of 25 July 2016 wrote that the ‘EU referendum was a reckless
gamble that backfired, and Cameron is apparently keener to move on than deal with the cata-
strophic consequences of this manoeuvre’.
The former prime minister was not unaware of the risks. The BBC News of 9 May 2016 reports,
for example, that Mr Cameron warned that ‘peace in Europe could be at risk if Britain votes to
leave the European Union’. This warning may have only compounded the initial error of calling the
referendum, because to call the referendum and only afterwards to spell out the risks of leaving the
European Union (EU) merely begged the question as to why, if the risks were so great, the
referendum was called in the first place. The so-called fear campaign was thus not entirely
credible. Claims of great damage were thus also discredited.
That said, material damage can scarcely be denied, although quantifying it is complex.
One measure of the damage, though, may be the monetary amount the EU will demand
to settle the United Kingdom’s forward commitments, estimated according to reports at
some 60 billion. If paid, there will be little if any return to the United Kingdom. If not
paid, there may be an action before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and most likely
an EU veto on the United Kingdom’s applicationtotheWorldTradeOrganization(WTO)for
individual membership, resulting in well-nigh total isolation.
So one way or the other, there will be material loss and damage.
1. Recklessness may be defined as the state of mind accompanying an act that either pays no regard to its probable or
possible injurious consequences, or which, though foreseeing such consequences, persists in the act in question
2. See, for example, An Assessment of the Economic Impact of Brexit on the EU27, 22 March 2017, PE 595.374,
New Journal of European Criminal Law
2017, Vol. 8(2) 99–103
ªThe Author(s) 2017
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/2032284417711567

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