The UK has voted to leave the UK.
The pollsters are in hiding, the Westminster parties are imploding and the media are asking – what comes next?
We don’t speak for the government or the official leave campaign, but we have some suggestions.
First, some key points that need to be covered:
- The Icelandic Ministry for Foreign affairs has recently put out a press release, saying:
“During its meeting earlier today the Government of Iceland discussed the results of the British referendum on European Union membership and UK’s decision to leave the EU.
The United Kingdom is one of Iceland’s most important trade partners and relations are deeply rooted in the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA). The two countries also enjoy strong cooperation in security and defence, justice and home affairs, transport and cultural affairs, to name a few areas. The Government of Iceland therefore states that it is of utmost importance to guarantee continued strong and stable cooperation between the two countries.
In light of this the Government decided that the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, would discuss the effects of UK’s decision at the upcoming EFTA Ministerial meeting in Bern, Switzerland, which starts Sunday 26 June. During the EFTA Ministerial meeting, Iceland will emphasise the importance that the four EFTA countries (Iceland, Switzerland, Norway and Liechtenstein) maintain the same level of economic and trade arrangements with the UK upon its withdrawal from the EU. In addition, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs will explore alternative arrangements for Iceland, e.g. the possibility of a deep and comprehensive bilateral economic and trade agreement with the UK. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs will also assign an independent research organisation to evaluate the economic effects of the possible options for economic and trade arrangements between Iceland and the UK.”
- EFTA, of which Iceland is a member (and the UK helped found until it left in the 1970’s) has also put out a press statement, saying that at their Ministerial conference today 27 June 2016 in Bern, Switzerland: “At the summer Ministerial meeting in Bern on 27 June, EFTA Ministers…discussed the outcome of the UK’s referendum on EU membership and its possible implications. They underlined the importance of maintaining close trade relations with the UK, which is one of the major trading partners of the EFTA countries. The EFTA Ministers discussed the outcome of the United Kingdom’s referendum on the European Union and its possible implications. They underlined the importance of maintaining close trade relations with the United Kingdom, which is one of the major trading partners of the EFTA countries.
According to a recent news report, Iceland pushed at the Ministerial Conference for a rapid and meaningful invitation back into EFTA for the British; Switzerland is also quite eager to welcome us back – but Norway is hesitant: http://www.nzz.ch/schweiz/aktuelle-themen/efta-il-ld.92029
Apparently, Prime Minister Erna Solberg has not concluded whether the best thing for Norway is to offer the UK a EFTA-UK free trade agreement, or EFTA membership.
What next then?
1. The UK should apply to re-join EFTA immediately.
For reasons why we believe EFTA membership would be good for the UK, click here: http://www.eu-facts.org.uk/2016/04/26/efta-4-uk-why-joining-the-european-free-trade-association-would-be-better-for-the-uk-than-eu-membership/
The UK helped found the organisation and it is only right that we return to it, if they will allow us to rejoin.
The procedure for this is clear and we believe that they would indeed welcome us back if we are appropriately diplomatic.
We should start informal discussions to join EFTA now, before the Article 50 notification is issued – and issue an official request as soon as is possible.
2. We should contact the countries with whom the EU currently has Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s) and request that those third countries maintain status quo deals with the UK after Brexit under the ‘presumption of continuity’ principle.
3. We should set up a cross-party group of MPs and Peers to discuss the various possible options available for the UK in its future dealings with the EU.
This may take the form of membership of the European Economic Area (EEA), signing a European Union Association Agreement (AA), a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) or a number of other possibilities.
Some of the below options may be immediately discounted by Brussels negotiators, and some the cross-party group may conclude are not a good fit for the UK.
4. We should apply to become a party to the extensive trade deal network of the EFTA countries, as per ARTICLE 56 (3) EFTA convention: http://www.efta.int/legal-texts/efta-convention
Got any comments, queries, suggestions? Contact us on the contact page.