Without Brexit, UK would have golden opportunity to shape EU

by Luke Lythgoe | 19.06.2019

There’s an almighty tussle raging across the EU for the bloc’s top jobs and policy agenda over the next five years. In normal circumstances this would be a golden opportunity for the UK to shape European politics. But Brexit means we will be sidelined at Thursday’s summit – and instead our politicians are obsessing about which Tory Brexiter gets to challenge Boris Johnson to be our next prime minister.

The results of last month’s European elections left the race for influential posts wide open. How the dust settles will determine the EU’s future policies on everything from climate change and migration to foreign affairs and the digital revolution.

There is currently a stand-off between France’s Emmanuel Macron and his centrist “Renew Europe” bloc and German chancellor Angela Merkel and the EU’s centre-right conservatives. This would, in normal times, be the perfect opportunity for the UK to intervene and push its own interests. But, half out the door, there’s no hope of lame-duck prime minister Theresa May doing anything of the sort.

At Thursday’s summit, the EU’s leaders hope to adopt a “strategic agenda” for the next five years. Tackling the climate crisis has become an important topic, and a good example of where the UK might otherwise have wanted to use its leverage to push for more ambitious targets.

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Specifically, the EU leaders will discuss a target to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 – something May has already called for. But draft conclusions for the summit, seen by Politico, suggest the EU wording is still quite cautious. The UK should be at the heart of efforts to get 27 other European countries to be bold on climate change. Instead, Brexit has rendered us mute.

Many of the UK’s other policy priorities will be on the table on Thursday: making migration fairer; preparing people for the digital revolution; helping towns and regions feel more involved in European politics. Again, our prime minister won’t be in a position to say much.

She won’t have much to say about who gets the EU’s top jobs either. Last time round, in 2014, David Cameron lost a battle over who should appoint the Commission president – MEPs or the heads of government. Unexpectedly, thanks to the fragmented election results, that issue is now back on the table. But thanks to Brexit, our prime minister will have nothing to say – and even if she speaks, the others won’t pay much attention.

If it weren’t for Brexit, we would be increasing our influence in Brussels. Instead Germany, France and smaller nations like Denmark are poised to nab the top jobs and set the agenda. And let’s not forget, as a European country the UK will inevitably have to follow much of that agenda – in or out of the EU.

The UK is one of the EU’s big three powers – alongside Germany and France. We are able to wield huge cultural and diplomatic power worldwide. Brits should be out in front, leading Europe. To do that we must call an end to Brexit and stay in the EU. That’s why we must March for Change on July 20.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

8 Responses to “Without Brexit, UK would have golden opportunity to shape EU”

  • Very good points which need to be widely made. Theresa May should protest vigorously about our loss of influence. The irony I am sure would be entirely lost on her.

  • Listen . After all your waffle if the UK will be able , as you say , then why do you think that in all the years in we have NOT been able ?
    This site is financed by a Swiss registered company owned by Danish who will do anything to keep UK tied in . Simply putting ‘in’ as a prefix to ‘facts’ does not mask the FACT that you peddle in False news endlessly ! Germany/France have managed since the 70’s to side track UK out of any importance in Brussels and they will continue to do so. Now THAT is a fact !

  • Good article. Alot of people don’t seem to realise we are(were) one of the Big 3 in Europe. If we were not, I don’t believe we would have been able to negotiate our list of opt-outs . The Franco German axis has driven the EU forwards, and frankly, some countries needed to take responsibility for this if the EU was not to be completly rudderless. On the other hand, alot of countries, such as the Scandinavian states, have looked to the UK to act as a restraint on Brussels. Others, such as the Dutch and Germans, see the UK as shifting the balance towards a more Atlanticist foreign policy, as well as more market orienated economic policy as opposed to the French central state bias.
    Our loss is also Europe’s loss. Sums up what ‘taking back control’ amounts to. The same sort of control as someone alone on a desert island.

  • Jason, you say:
    “This site is financed by a Swiss registered company owned by Danish….”
    This is new to me.
    I looked at the Governance and Finance page and could not find any such business among the donors.
    If you have confidential information I would like to hear it and it might me change my attitude to InFacts.

  • Sorry, don’t agree. InFacts appears to be owned by Referendum Facts Ltd., a company limited by guarantee. It is registered in England, no. 09893905 with an office address in London. No evidence of Swiss/Danish ownership: please provide some, Jason.

  • Good article, but a bit on the late side to influence much. Even if the UK drops Brexit in order not to fall to bits itself, it is going to take quite a few years to re-establish political credibility within the EU again. By then one could only hope that a twit like Boris Johnson has been flushed from the London political circuit. Never mind something even more efficient in the case of Nigel Farage.

  • To Jason
    So if the U.K. is not in the EU tell me what the vision is for life outside it. It is easy to carp on about this or that but the EU provides trade, security and cultural advantages. It makes many aspects of life much simpler such as travel, roaming charges and opportunities for careers within the EU28. How would leaving make anything any better? Do not say we would be free to make our laws and guff like that but hard facts supported by evidence that we will be more secure, more prosperous. How will it make life better for those who voted leave as a protest against their living conditions etc. The whole thing about Brexit is that the EU is a convenient scapegoat for the failings of the Tory government and austerity.

  • To William Taylor
    Life outside the EU will be riskier, with lower standards in everything. There is a reason why ex Soviet countries are now grateful for the protection and security the EU provides – they have experienced the opposite. A vote for Brexit is a vote for Chernobyl.