Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations presents view on Brexit

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    The chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations and National Defense, senator Collor de Mello, made the following presentation  (in Portuguese) at the opening of the Committee’s session on March 30, 2017:

    “The presentation of the British Prime Minister, Theresa May,to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which created the European Union, initiated yesterday (29) the two years transition preparatory period to the complete departure of the United Kingdom from the bloc. Addressing the British Parliament, Theresa May said that was an historical moment and that it would be a no-return movement, as her government was acting in accordance to the democratic will of the British people and with the clear and convincing support of Parliament. As we know, the process started with last June’s referendum, when most Britons opted to debate about the European Union. Ironically, both Prime Minister May and leaders of major parties, such as Labor and Liberal Democrats, campaigned against Brexit.

    According to Martin Wolf, editor and chief financial commentator for the Financial Times, the British government’s notification to the European Union of its intention to quit “was a great moment in a tragedy: it will be a tragedy for the UK but also for Europe” . He says that “this is a terrible way to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the European Union.”

    In his view, even if exit negotiations are well underway, the decision to leave the bloc will have enormous consequences for the UK. This is because, economically, the country will lose favorable access to its best market; politically, will create great tensions in the UK and in Ireland, besides removing the UK strategical position UK nowadays presents in the Councils of the European Union. For the expert, Brexist will result in  poorer, more divided and less influential United Kindgom.

    In Wolf’s view, Brexist will also be a tragedy for Europe, as the United Kingdiom has long been the  bearer of  the flags of liberal economy and democratic politics. It is one of the two strongest military powers on the continent. It has close links with English-speaking countries. It has a world perspective. It has been, at least until now, pragmatic. Their views on what would be beneficial for the European Union (the single market and its enlargement) and what would harm it (the single currency) were right.

    Wolf believes that only someone who ignores history could imagine that Europe would be more prosperous, stable, influential, democratic and liberal if the bloc comes to be broken into 28 national fragments. The nation-state system has repeatedly proved itself unstable. In this case, with an United States increasingly distanced, the collapse of the European Union could result in an hegemonic dispute  between Germany and Russia or, worse, a pact between them at the expense of weaker neighbors. If the European Union effectively survives, Martin Wolf believes that Germany will dominate the bloc, but that the Germans do not want it. And he asks: why would the British desire it?

    The day before the British government started the Brexit process, the Scottish Parliament voted 69-59 votes on Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s proposal to hold a second referendum on Scotland’s independence from the United Kingdom, before  Brexit is concluded. According to her, the referendum is needed so that Scotland can decide which way to go after Brexit. But the British government has already said it will block the Scottish popular referendum until the Brexit lawsuit has been completed. Prime Minister Theresa May, who met with her Scottish colleague on Monday in Glasgow, repeated that “this is not the time” for a referendum.

    The Scots rejected UK independence by 55-45% in a referendum in 2014, but Nicola Sturgeon believes that with the vote for Brexit, a change of circumstances occurred, and therefore voters in Scotland should respond again about the question of the independence of the United Kingdom.

    Scottish voters voted massively against the UK’s exit from the European Union (62-38% against Brexit). Scotland has the status of an autonomous region, with its own government and Parliament, but must submit itself to the British government in the last instance, especially for the holding of the referendum for its independence.

    In the analysis of Prof. John Curtice of the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, the holding of the referendum before 2021 – when there will be new regional elections – will depend in part on what opinion polls will say, both regarding the principle of convening such a referendum and Such as the issue of independence among voters. And also how Brexit will be seen: a successful process or a failure. And all this, in Professor’s opinion, is “extremely uncertain”. (The Committe Chairman is not responsbile for the translation into English)

    Text in Portuguese (shorthand notes)

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