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EU will never threaten UK’s UN seat

by David Hannay | 24.05.2016

The Leave campaign is propagating another myth – this time that Britain’s UN Security Council membership is at risk if we remain in the EU.

Replying to a request from the United Nations Association of the UK for its view on our UN membership, the Leave campaign said on 19 May that leaving the EU will “remove the threat” of the EU taking over the UK’s seat.”

Yet again, this is a pro-Brexit myth dressed up as a threat.

Under the terms of the UN Charter, any change to the permanent membership of the Security Council would require amending the Charter itself; and such an amendment needs the agreement of all five permanent members, including Britain. Is it really conceivable that the UK, or for that matter France, would accept such a change? None whatsoever is the only sensible answer.

That is not all. The UN is an inter-governmental organisation composed of independent, sovereign states. For the EU to become a member as opposed to an observer, which it is at present, it too would have to become a sovereign state. It could do this only with the approval of all its members, which is simply unimaginable – not least because they would all have to agree to cease themselves to be independent sovereign states.

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What’s more, any move by the EU to enhance its status at the UN would inevitably come up against demands from groups like the African Union, the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic States for similar treatment, to which many others would object.

So the members of the European Parliament can, as they do, dream of an EU seat on the Security Council. But it is not going to happen. If you doubt that, just go to Paris and ask the French government.

Instead of propagating these myths, the Leave campaign might do better to concentrate on explaining how a Britain outside the EU would come to terms with its reduced influence in the world – something that a series of global leaders have warned would be an inevitable consequence of Brexit.

Edited by Alan Wheatley