There are two assumptions built into this. Firstly, that David Cameron will still be Prime Minister after the referendum. This is not obvious, and a different PM would have different priorities; and secondly that we would make our formal application immediately after the vote.
1) If the Brexit side wins the referendum it would be very hard for Cameron to remain as Leader of the Conservative Party. Even if the Government wins, there are already rumblings about a leadership challenge regardless of the outcome; and reports that he is planning a cull of local Conservative Associations could make his position very difficult. It is hard to see how he could remain as PM if he were to be replaced as Leader of the Conservative party - especially if his replacement was someone as colourful as Boris Johnson.
2) It would be rational to make our application when it is advantageous to Britain to do so, and this is not necessarily straight away. There is absolutely no reason why Britain should formally announce, under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, that it wishes to withdraw the moment that a vote for Brexit becomes known. The referendum is has no standing in the EU, it is merely an expression of the wishes of the British people about future policy that the Government has accepted should be binding. No timescale is entailed by the vote, and a government could give notice of withdrawal after it has at least outline trade deals with various countries, and part of these negotiations would be about the timing of exit. Also, there is no reason why, as the Government seems to assume, we should have to negotiate on all EU issues in one single agreement. Issues could be resolved separately, over time. An exit would legally happen on a specific date, but the divergence, in practice, of the two systems could be gradual.
This paragraph implies a level of complexity that might not exist. Britain would apply to the European Council. The Union would negotiate a common approach internally. Britain would not be negotiating separately with 27 states. Until an agreement is concluded, and takes effect, the current arrangements would apply. Obviously, as with any situation in life, until things become certain there is some uncertainty, but the mealy mouthed "could have an impact on" seems designed both to be undeniable and to feed into the strategy of generating fear about the consequences of choosing to exit. Of course there will be an impact, but no one knows how great it will be, nor whether it will be negative or positive.
Equally, no one knows the consequences of staying in the EU. The future policies of the EU are just as uncertain. We do not know, for example, how much, if anything, we may have to contribute to an EU policy on the migrant/refugee problem, or what the consequences of a collapse of the Euro might be. It is true that if we stay in we will be able to 'have a say' on EU policies, but our record on prevailing in votes where we disagree with a Commission proposal is not good. The future is always uncertain.
This paragraph again overstates the complexity of the issue. Certainly we would need to negotiate access to the markets of the countries remaining in the EU. But this need not be overly complex. David Cameron sometimes refers to trade agreements such as the Canadian agreement taking a long time to negotiate, but this is because much more is being negotiated than just tariffs. Non-tariff issues that won't apply to us, or that we might not want to negotiate on, are also part of the deal and these take time to negotiate. Clearly, if you sell anything to any other country you have to abide by whatever regulations they wish to impose. This is not an EU principle, it's just part of normal trading. However, since we are already in compliance with EU regulations there won't be so much to disagree about. Also, given the high percentage of their products that many European companies sell in the UK, it is not in the interest of the EU to impose tariffs as we would simply respond in kind - to the detriment of major companies and the national economies in which they are based. For example, Bosch, which established its first office in the UK in 1898, had UK sales revenues in 2014 of £1.9 billion, and in recent years has made annual after-tax profits of around £1 to £2 million in the UK. Similar considerations apply to many other companies. They, and companies like them, would not want their access to our market to be restricted. On sanctions, we surely can just decide for ourselves whether to continue what has been agreed jointly in the past. On access to structural funds, of course we would no longer have this, but equally, we would no longer contribute to such funds to be spent in other countries. We would look after our own poorer regions ourselves.
The two year deadline only applies when we have formally communicated our wish to leave. It is in the interest of EU countries to negotiate access to our market (see above) and therefore not to complicate the proceedings in the manner suggested. There is no reason why outline agreements cannot be agreed before we submit our formal request under Article 50. David Cameron's policy seems to be that we would flounce out immediately the result of the vote is announced, and then scramble to pick up the pieces within the two year deadline. Life does not have to be like that.
If this happened EU businesses would equally lose the right to trade on a preferential basis with the UK, those EU citizens working in the UK would be equally penalised, and their travellers restricted in their ability to move freely to and from the UK. It is not in the interest of the EU to arrive at the two year deadline without an agreement. The sensible approach would be for the exit arrangement, negotiated within the two year period, to offer a general framework for negotiations on specific issues, rather than being a final agreement on life the universe and everything.
This is scraping the barrel for arguments against leaving. Of course we would be bound by EU regulations until we left. We would have our normal input to decision-making, which is not often decisive. It's not clear why it is thought that this is much of an argument.
It is not clear why we would be constrained in negotiating arrangements with other countries that would not take effect until after we leave the EU. It's just an assertion. Any negotiations could proceed in parallel, they don't have to take place one after the other. The government is presenting a dishonestly simplistic view of international relations and negotiations. Also, the agreement on leaving the EU itself is presented in a very simplistic way. As mentioned above, it might well be possible to negotiate a framework for a gradual withdrawal that minimises the possibilities of chaos and uncertainty that David Cameron claims would exist after a Brexit vote in the referendum.
Chapter 3 repeats the misleading claim that once there is a vote to leave, Britain would immediately submit a formal application to leave, thus triggering the two year provision in the treaty:-
This feeds the strategy of fear that involves, inter alia, claiming that we would have to complete all our negotiations within two years (see above). The rest of the chapter argues that it is unclear how the negotiations would proceed, but makes the case for the occurrence of the 'worst case scenario' of the agreement being blocked by, perhaps, the Walloon regional parliament. The document does not mention that its own proposals, when embodied in a treaty, would be open to the same obstacles. The approach overlooks the desire for EU countries to have access to the British market, and assumes that the process is entirely one-sided, with a weak Britain petitioning for a new agreement with a wholly antipathetic Europe. It also overlooks the possibility that a British vote to leave might trigger other changes within the EU, with other countries agreeing that the EU in its present form is untenable. There are already significant sections of public opinion in most countries that are unhappy with the EU. There is an argument to say that it has already become too large and unwieldy, embracing the majority of European states, with others seeking to enter. As the theorist William Riker observed in The Theory of Political Coalitions, coalitions of the whole do not last.
This is just supposition. It assumes that parallel negotiations won't happen, and that Britain's exit has no bearing on any current trade negotiations with the EU - the deals non-EU countries may be in the process of negotiating are deals that include access to the British market. Access to Britain will be, for many countries, just as important as access to the markets of other countries. For deals already concluded, those countries that trade in Britain will be anxious to continue this trade. It is in their interest to negotiate with us.
The problem with statistics like these is that they are for the whole EU, rather than for those countries within it that are our main economic partners, and so they don't represent the reality of our economic position.
There is not this complete discontinuity between our interests and theirs. We have common interests as well a some divergent ones.
Chapter 4 discusses the "implications of withdrawal".
There is no reason why the exit agreement "would have to cover the full extent" of the future form of our relationship with the EU. This would evolve over time.
Of course, there is no requirement for all the present arrangements with the EU to be swept away. There are some that we would want to keep. Indeed, all our current commitments, enshrined in UK laws, statutory instruments, etc., could be kept in the first instance. Over time we might want to negotiate different arrangements. None of this needs to be completed in the two year period. By starting out with the current arrangements, any transition could be gradual and not chaotic. The same applies to our access to the single market (4.3), the financial services sector, and other areas.
The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy should have been swept away years ago. It was designed to protect small inefficient French and German farmers. Exit would be an opportunity for us to reform our own agricultural sector, and enable our own dairy farmers, for example, to make a decent living once more.
The concluding Chapter 5 mostly regurgitates the points from the previous chapters, including:
This assumption underlies much of the government's argument: how difficult it all is, and it all has to be completed in two years. This is nonsense. Of course there will be difficulties, but there will be more time to sort them out than the government implies.
This does not mean that we would be excluded from negotiations with the Commission on the nature of the exit deal, it simply means we would be excluded from the discussion of, and decision-making on, whatever package we negotiate with the Commission. This is normal practice when a political entity discusses issues that affect one of its members.
Assuming Ireland stays in the EU, it can monitor the border as it sees fit. It is unlikely we would want to be significantly more restrictive than we are at present.
The document ends with a list of items indicating how UK citizens might be affected:
Of course some people will be affected: there may well be a small number whose burning ambition is to vote in local elections, say for the Pétange Council in Luxembourg; but for the most part, for most people, being deprived of these rights is no big deal. Of course, new arrangements covering these matters could be negotiated.
Richard Kimber, 5th March 2016