On June 16, the PDU held an event on the Brexit-Referendum at the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt in Munich.
On June 23 the British people vote on whether the UK will be the first country to ever leave the European Union. The UK’s relations with the institutions of the continent have always been difficult. A Brexit now, however would not merely be another episode in this difficult relationship but has the potential to deliver the fatal blow to a continent already brought to its knees by a series of interlocking crises.
Against this backdrop we discussed the political and economic ramifications of the referendum and the developments that have led to it with a panel of experts: John Peet, political editor at The Economist, Gisela Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet, professor for European Studies and International Relations at the University of Würzburg and Gabriel Felbermayr, director of the Ifo Center for International Economics and professor for Economics at LMU Munich, all offered their unique insights.
John Peet described the historic developments that have led to the referendum, especially within the Conservative Party and said that he both hoped and believed that in the end British voters will vote to remain within the EU. Peet stressed, however, that other EU member states will have to understand that Britain never had and will never have an emotional or even romantic relation to a united continent as, for example, the French and the German.
Gabriel Felbermayr drew the audience’s attention to different economic scenarios that could evolve after a potential Brexit, including different trade arrangements that could be reached between the EU and an independent Britain. He concluded that in none of the potential scenarios the British benefits of leaving outweighed the costs so as to justify a Brexit with economic arguments.
Gisela Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet in turn offered her insights on the potential political fallout a Brexit would have. She argued that the European political elite, especially in Germany, has been too hesitant in urging Britain to stay. From her perspective, no matter how the vote goes, the consequences will likely be negative, both for the UK and the EU. She said that only in case an overwhelming majority in favour of “Remain” Brexit could bring political stability rather than turmoil to Europe.