BREXIT! BREXIT! BREXIT! – A PRESS RELEASES FROM THE DEPARTMENT FOR EXITING EUROPE AND THE GOVERNMENT OF ANGUILLA, LONDON OFFICE, INCORPORATING A BRIEF GUIDE TO BREXIT by Blondel Cluff and Charlie Wheeler
A PRESS RELEASES FROM THE DEPARTMENT FOR EXITING EUROPE AND THE GOVERNMENT OF ANGUILLA, LONDON OFFICE, INCORPORATING A BRIEF GUIDE TO BREXIT
by Blondel Cluff and Charlie Wheeler
Article 50 to be triggered on March 29
Department for Exiting the European Union
Type: Press Release
Date: 20 March 2017
Sir Tim Barrow has this morning informed the office of European Council President Donald Tusk of the UK’s intention to invoke Article 50.
The UK’s Permanent Representative to the European Union, Sir Tim Barrow, has this morning informed the office of European Council President, Donald Tusk, of the UK’s intention to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on March 29, 2017.
This meets the UK’s longstanding commitment to trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017.
Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis said:
Last June, the people of the UK made the historic decision to leave the EU. Next Wednesday, the Government will deliver on that decision and formally start the process by triggering Article 50.
We are on the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation.
The Government is clear in its aims: a deal that works for every nation and region of the UK and indeed for all of Europe – a new, positive partnership between the UK and our friends and allies in the European Union.
A GUIDE TO BREXIT
This guide is intended to provide the people of Anguilla an easy reference guide to the United Kingdom’s (UK) withdrawal from the European Union (EU). It should ensure that the people of the UK Overseas Territory (UKOT) are as informed as their UK based counterparts on this historic step that will effectively distance the UK and the UKOTs from the EU and the countries and territories of its member states.
WHAT IS BREXIT?
The word Brexit is shorthand for Britain exiting the EU.
WHY IS BRITAIN EXITING THE EU?
On the 23rd June 2016, the people of the UK (namely the populations of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) and Gibraltar, (which is located in mainland Europe) were all given the opportunity to vote on whether the UK should remain as an EU member.
The people of the Crown Dependencies, (namely the Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey and Sark) together with those of the fourteen UKOT’s, (which includes Anguilla) were not included in this referendum as they are not within the UK, although they will all be affected both directly and indirectly.
Of those that voted in the UK, 53.4% voted in favour of Brexit. The overall UK result did not reflect all regional responses. 62% of voters in Scotland and 55.8% of voters in Northern Ireland wanted the UK to remain within the EU. In the case of Scotland, the overall UK decision has resulted in calls by their devolved government for a second Scottish referendum on whether Scotland should remain attached to the UK itself, although the EU has made it clear that there is no scope for Scotland to remain within their union without UK membership. Current UK Prime Minister Theresa May has recently rejected Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s calls for a 2nd Scottish Referendum on Independence, who sees the issue of Brexit as an opportunity to hold another vote on Scotland’s sovereignty.
POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES OF BREXIT IN THE UK
The most immediate political response to the UK’s decision to exit the EU was the resignation of the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron. Theresa May replaced Mr Cameron, swiftly becoming Prime Minister of the UK without the need for a full leadership contest due to various candidates dropping out of the process. Mrs May is the former Secretary of State for the Home Office and MP for Maidenhead, a constituency on the borders of Slough, home to Anguilla’s oldest continuous diaspora. Whilst Mrs May had personally preferred to remain in the EU, she is firmly committed to fulfilling the ‘instructions’ of the UK’s electorate, having famously summarised her commitment by stating that “Brexit means Brexit.”
THE BREXIT PROCESS THUS FAR
With the UK’s main opposition, the Labour Party, being in a state of transition under the leadership of Mr Jeremy Corbyn, the Conservative Government has experienced little opposition in the House of Commons to the Brexit process thus far.
Whilst elected government is conducted in the House of Commons, the second chamber of the UK parliament, the House of Lords, comprising over 800 unelected members, reviews the work of elected politicians, as such providing what many regard as a safety mechanism whereby the elected politicians may be invited to rethink their decisions. The Conservatives do not have a majority in the House of Lords. The Lords have now challenged the manner in which Mrs May’s government intends to conduct the exiting process. Instead of allowing Mrs May’s government to conduct the process alone, the House of Lords now want all politicians, including those in opposition, to have their say throughout the process. This question had been raised in court earlier in the year when a case was brought against the government to force the Prime Minister to include the views of all members of parliament in the process. Mrs May won the case enabling her to proceed without consulting parliament in any detail. The Prime Minister must now address the issues raised in the House of Lords. This process will take place this week.
WHAT HAS MRS MAY DONE SO FAR?
Mrs May has announced that she will start the Brexit process before the end of March 2017, leaving less than one month for the process to commence. In readiness she has established new government departments, including the Department for Exiting Europe (DExEU) headed up by David Davis as Secretary of State and a new ministry responsible for negotiating new international trading relationships once the UK has left the EU (Department for International Trade), headed up by Dr Liam Fox.
WHAT EFFECT HAS THE BREXIT DECISION HAD ON THE ECONOMY?
The economic crisis predicted for the UK has yet to occur in that UK unemployment has not surged, nor have property priced crashed, however the value of the pound, losing more than 17% of its value against the US dollar and 10% against the Euro, has fallen sharply. This has made foreign imports into the UK more expensive as reflected in a slowly increasing rate of inflation, although cheaper UK goods have attracted more trade. The cost of international travel and related services are higher for UK tourists due to a weaker pound which may impact upon Anguilla to some extent.
WHAT IS THE EUROPEAN UNION?
The EU is a political and economic partnership between 28 member states that are all European Countries and which includes the UK until the negotiations to leave are concluded. The idea of a union of European countries arose at the end of the second world war based on the theory that countries that traded together are less likely to wage war upon each other. The partnership has its own currency, the Euro, although not all members have adopted it, with the UK retaining its pound sterling.
The EU has grown since it was first invented, becoming a single market in which people, goods and services are permitted to move freely as if in one state.
WHERE DOES ANGUILLA SIT IN THE EU?
There are four member states with countries and territories attached to them. They are:
• France with:
French Guiana, French Polynesia, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, New Caledonia, Réunion, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre, Miquelon, Wallis & Futuna and the French Southern & Antarctic Lands.
• The Kingdom of the Netherlands with:
Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius.
• The Kingdom of Denmark with:
Greenland and the Faroe Islands.
• The United Kingdom with:
Akrotiri & Dhekelia (Cyprus), Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension, Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands and the Turks & Caicos Islands.
The overseas countries and territories of the member states have an associate relationship with the EU that is conducted through a special directorate of the EU Commission with the objective of promoting the economic and social development of the countries and territories and to establish close economic relations between them and the European Community as a whole. The group of countries and territories also cooperate directly with each other, as is the case between Anguilla and Dutch Sint Maarten
Of the fourteen UKOTs only Gibraltar and Anguilla have borders with EU members states or their related countries or territories. In the case of Anguilla, the territory borders French Saint Martin, which is a Collectivity of France, meaning it has direct representation in the French parliament and as such is not treated in the same manner as Anguilla or Dutch Sint Maarten. The Dutch side of the island is a country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands having its own elected government and is also key to Anguilla as it is home to the international airport closest to the territory.
IS ANGUILLA’S BREXIT POSITION UNIQUE?
As is the case for several UKOTs, Anguilla receives significant levels of developmental aid from the EU for initiatives that are agreed in advance with the EU. Unlike various UKOTs, EU support is the main source of aid Anguilla receives, with no support being provided to Anguilla by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). There is no indication that this situation will change once the UK has left the EU, however new UK funds have are being opened. The issue will be whether the same level of support will be forthcoming once EU aid has ended and the conditions that the UK may attach to such support.
Anguilla is unique among the UKOTs in that it is heavily dependent upon Saint Martin and Sint Maarten for international access, medical services, imports, exports, mail, and a myriad of other goods and services. The two islands have an entwined heritage that spans centuries with many Anguillians having close family ties with their French and Dutch neighbours. This situation is similar to that of Northern and Southern Ireland. The history of a divided Ireland is such that desire to avoid a ‘hard’ border between the two sections of Ireland is such that it is likely to be a UK priority. The distinction is that both Northern and Southern Ireland are highly likely work together to seek this outcome, whereas the intentions of the member states of Saint Martin are unclear. Arguments for why Anguilla and Saint Martin should continue their close collaboration are being prepared and personal experiences of both islands are invited.
NEXT STEPS FOR ANGUILLA
It is highly recommended that all people in Anguilla start to think about how Brexit will affect them, their family and their neighbours (both in Anguilla and neighbouring islands). It may seem far off, but, with the triggering of Article 50, Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union (EU) within two years. Some people believe that the UK may ‘crash’ out of the EU within 6 to 9 months if relations sour and negotiations go badly. With this prospect in mind, the Government of Anguilla and its UK/EU Representative office have been ensuring that the UK Government, and in particular the Foreign Office, and other UK Government departments are fully briefed on the possible effects of Brexit on Anguilla. As a result, the UK now has an in-depth understanding of how Brexit will affect Anguilla, what may be required to rectify any foreseeable problems, and what potential opportunities also exist for Anguilla as a result of the UK leaving the EU. This is a work in progress and entails identifying issues and presenting solutions that are mutually beneficial for those members of the EU with whom Anguilla must coexist, the UK and Anguilla itself.
We now urge the people of Anguilla to provide any thoughts they have on Brexit, and how it may affect them, their family and their neighbours (both in Anguilla and abroad). Below are a list of some questions you may want to ask yourself and others:
• How will Brexit affect Anguilla’s relationships with Saint Martin (French) and
Sint Maarten (Dutch)?
• Does Brexit present any opportunities in the Saint Martin and Sint Maarten relationships with Anguilla?
• Does Brexit present any potential problems for Anguilla’s relationship with both Saint Martin and Sint Maarten? If so, how can these potential problems be rectified?
• Does Brexit present opportunities for improved relations with other neighbouring islands?
• How may Brexit affect imports and exports to and from Anguilla?
• How may Brexit affect tourism?
• How may Brexit affect Anguilla’s postal service?
• How may Brexit affect the movement of goods, services and people between neighbouring islands?
• How may Brexit affect Anguilla’s relationship with the UK?
WHAT IS THE BREXIT PROCESS?
• UK HELD A REFERENDUM AND DECIDED TO LEAVE THE EU ON 23RD JUNE 2016
• THE UK WILL INVOKE ARTICLE 50 OF THE TREATY ON EUROPEAN UNION ON 29 MARCH 2017
• THIS COMMENCES A TIMETABLE THAT MAY LAST TWO YEARS IN WHICH THE UK MAY NEGOTIATE WITH THE REMAINING 27 MEMBER STATE ON THE CONDITIONS OF THE UK’S DEPARTURE FROM THE EU.
• THE TWO YEAR TIMELIMIT MAY BE EXYENDED BY A FURTHER YEAR IF THE 27 REMAINING COUNTRIES AGREE
• THE UK MUST FORMALLY PRESENT A DRAFT DEAL FOR THE OTHER 27 COUNTRIES TO CONSIDER
• ANY DEAL REQUIRES APPROVAL FROM AT LEAST 20 COUNTRIES WITH AT LEAST 65% OF THE POPULATION OF THE REMAINING MEMBER STATES
• ANY DEAL THAT THE UK AND OTHER 27 MEMBER STATES AGREE MUST THEN BE RATIFIED BY THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
• IF A DEAL IS NOT REACHED DURING THE TWO YEAR TIME LIMIT, (OR ANY AGREED EXTENDED PERIOD), THE UK WILL LEAVE THE EU AS THE TREATIES WILL EXPIRE IN RELATION TO THE UK
• THE UK WILL REPEAL THE 1972 EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES ACT AND REPLACE IT WITH ANY AGREEMENT IT MAY HAVE REACHED WITH THE EU BY THAT TIME
• THE UK WILL TAKE ALL EU LAW ONTO ITS OWN STATUTE (LAW) BOOKS TO ENABLE IT TO REVIEW THE 43 YEARS WORTH OF EU LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS AND CONVENTIONS AND DECIDE WHICH IT WILL KEEP, AMEND OR REPEAL. THIS AVOIDS YEARS OF WORK BEING CRAMMED INTO TWO YEARS AND ALLOWS THE UK TO CONCENTRATE ON THE NEGOTIATIONS DURING THE TIGHT TWO TEAR TIMETABLE.
20th March 2017