Farage shouldn’t crow about Ukraine vote

by Jack Schickler | 08.04.2016

Nigel Farage seemed overjoyed at the recent Dutch referendum, in which voters said No to the EU’s proposed trade and political arrangements with Ukraine. Farage – who has previously urged Barack Obama not to intervene in other countries’ referendums – gave a speech in the Netherlands shortly before the vote, and cheered at the outcome. But, if Farage gets his way on Britain’s EU referendum, his cheering will seem witless. Where Ukraine is today, the UK could be tomorrow.

Farage and his fellow Eurosceptics like to say that we won’t have a problem getting a post-Brexit deal with the EU. The UK runs a trade deficit with the bloc, they point out. Germans would want a deal so that they can continue to export their cars to us; the French would want to sell us fancy clothes, and so on. This argument is not compelling. But even if it were, it assumes that post-Brexit negotiations will be settled based on a hard-headed economic assessment. The Dutch case shows that these questions are not always decided on the merits.

Association agreements like the one between the EU and Ukraine require unanimous approval by all member countries. Britain would exit under different rules, so its deal might require approval from a qualified majority of the remaining EU countries. However, a decision to extend the 2-year time limit for negotiations – which seems likely to be needed – would have to be unanimous. So might the exit deal if it covered areas such as tax, foreign policy, and police cooperation. If the agreement covered areas where competence is shared between the EU and its member states, or the UK wanted Norway-type membership of the European Economic Area, that would also require ratification in all EU member states. A protest vote in the tiniest of EU countries could derail the process.

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    Farage should not be crowing about the Dutch referendum. To the contrary, it illustrates the unpredictability of a post-Brexit future.

    Contacted for comment, Nigel Farage reissued the response he has given us before, calling InFacts a “propaganda group”. We invite readers to decide who is the propagandist. 

    Edited by Sebastian Mallaby

    4 Responses to “Farage shouldn’t crow about Ukraine vote”

    • It seems to me that brexiteers have no clue about the outcome of leaving the EU.
      Apart from an acrimonious divorce, the division in this country would be just as bitter I expect.
      If we leave and it all goes wrong, there will be finger pointing, blame and arguments.

    • This is nonsense.
      It strengthens Farage’s argument.
      1) It dismisses the idea that only the UK is the problem child of the EU. The EU has plenty of opposition across the continent, the UK is the only country that seems democratically willing to allow its people to decide on it.
      2) These anti-EU groups would want to ensure the UK is a success story, as it would strengthen their own position relative to their own countries out campaigns.

      • I am voting to stay in. However, having read the article and your response, there is no denying your logic Scott. You are likely right on this one.