RSIS hosted a roundtable titled “Can Britain Survive BREXIT?: Economic and Constitutional Challenges in Post-Brexit Britain” on 12 February 2020. The roundtable speaker was Mr David Martin, Visiting Senior Fellow, Co-Convenor, Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland. Amb Ong Keng Yong, Executive Deputy Chairman of RSIS, moderated the event.
Mr Martin discussed some of the potential economic and constitutional challenges that the United Kingdom (UK) will face when they leave the European Union (EU). He began his presentation by stating that while most people are aware of the economic challenges, they greatly underestimate the scale of constitutional challenges of a post-Brexit world.
Mr Martin provided several examples of how a “hard” Brexit could be economically damaging to the UK. Citing figures from the UK Treasury, he highlighted that a “bare bones” trade deal between the UK and the EU would cost the UK 4.9 per cent in GDP loss — while a no-deal scenario would cost the UK 8 per cent in GDP loss over the next 15 years. On the constitutional front, Mr Martin argued that Brexit-related issues, such as the loss of frictionless trade and free movement of people, could potentially add to dissatisfaction with the Westminster Government. This could literally divide the UK — with Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland pushing for independence.
Finally, Mr Martin expressed hope that, while there might be a desire for some degree of separation between the UK and the EU, both parties should acknowledge the need for continued cooperation, albeit informally, on issues such as internal and external security. In his opinion, there is more that unites the two parties than what divides them. Moreover, considering the potential economic and political fallout, both parties should endeavour to avoid an acrimonious divorce.