What would the exit negotiations look like if Britain voted to leave the EU? Well, Open Europe tried to give us an idea today hosting a war game sketching out what would happen next. (Seb wrote about their work on the renegotiation earlier). It left me with the view that there would be a second vote on the proposed exit terms.
If Britain does vote out in a referendum, it is then—under Article 50—a member of the EU for two years while it tries to negotiate an exit deal. I suspect that the package would be, despite the UK’s trade surplus, relatively ungenerous. John Bruton, the former Irish Taoiseach and EU ambassador to the US who was playing the part of the European Commission, was explicit that the British could not be allowed too good a deal for fear that this would encourage others member states to walk away.
Once a deal is reached, I suspect that the government, which is highly unlikely to be in favour of out, would then say that there must be a second referendum on the exit terms.
One counter to this was Open Europe director Mats Persson’s point that if the EU and the US reach agreement on a trans-Atlantic free trade area, this would provide a model for the terms of a British exit. Given that if this trans-Atlantic trade deal is going to happen, it’ll happen before the next presidential election, it might well be in place by the time this country has a referendum. This would then, presumably, become a point a reference for the referendum campaign debate meaning that the electorate would have a better idea of what terms of departure it was being asked to vote for