Column: Countdown to Brexit vote as Canada watches

Next week people in Britain will vote on whether leave the European Union. It is the most important decision they will vote on in decades.

Next week on June 23 people in Britain will vote on whether to stay or leave the 28-member European Union. British exit, or popularly known as Brexit, is the most important decision they will vote on in decades.

The EU began with the formation of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957, known as the Common Market. Britain didn’t join until January 1, 1973. The European Union was established under its current name in 1993. But for many years there have been rumblings about whether the U.K. should stay under the EU umbrella.

They’re about to find out.

This is a very big deal for the Brits. And it’s more than a passing deal for Canada since we still share a head of state with Britain. No country has left the union before and, in fact, more countries have joined in the past decade. So if the Leave camp wins, the fallout could be, at least initially, painful with perhaps some unintended consequences.

The EU is the world’s largest trade bloc so Britain would have to engage in re-negotiated trade deals. There would be some economic uncertainty, something the financial markets hate, and no doubt the British pound would take a hit.

But a knock-off of Britain leaving the EU that could affect Canada is the newly minted Canada-EU trade deal (CETA) which is expected to be ratified later this year. Right now, the deal with the EU includes the U.K. intact within the 28-nation pact. But a Brexit outcome could result in changes to the deal and a separate trade deal with Britain. In the groundswell of political and economic furor should the Leavers win that could be shelved for some time.

Boris Johnson, the former Mayor of London and a heavyweight Leaver, said Britain should follow the model of Canada as a good example of a country that knows how to cobble together free trade deals with the rest of the world while protecting its borders.

According to Statistics Canada, Canada’s exports to the U.K. in 2015 totalled $15.1 billion The Canada-U.K. merchandise trade in 2013 was $22.4 billion.

Why do Brits want out? Follow the money. The U.K. is a net financial contributor to the EU. The money is used across Europe to create a level playing field for the poorer member nations. In 2013 it topped $17.4 billion. The U.K. could be forced to adopt the Euro over its pound by 2020. Then there’s the migration muddle with the Brits powerless to control the number of people entering the country. Adding salt to the wound is the right of migrants to claim welfare benefits off the backs of taxpayers. Another irritant is European control over U.K. laws and Britain not having enough influence over decision-making.

Polls have been running neck and neck but in the last two weeks the Leave camp took the lead with 53 per cent compared to the Remainers at 47 per cent. This week it narrowed to 51 to 49 per cent for Brexit. Broadly, voters in professional occupations favour staying in the EU while skilled manual workers are pumping to leave.

An Ipsos Mori poll of 600 economists resulted in 88 per cent who said an exit from the EU would damage Britain’s economic growth prospects for the next five years.

In a YouGov poll, the most pro-EU regions are Northern Ireland, Scotland, and London; the most pro-Brexit is the Midlands (central England). Overall, five regions are pro-EU while seven are pro-Brexit. By age? Some 73 per cent between 18 and 29 are pro-EU while 63 per cent over age 60 want to leave.

Either way, the Brexit vote is going to make fascinating viewing.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

An injection kit is seen inside a Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C., Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Hope’s high rate of drug overdose noted in BC Coroners Service report

Up-to-date numbers not available yet for 2021, but Fraser Health deaths on the rise

Screenshot from security footage a young, thin cougar prowling on Oliver Crescent in Sardis on May 7, 2021. (Dustin Meyer photo)
VIDEO: Cougar sighting in residential Chilliwack neighbourhood prompts warning

Springtime cougar sightings likely due to cats following deer down to valley floor, says CO

<a href="Facebook users reported seeing a body on the side of the road this morning." target="_blank"></a>Facebook users reported seeing a body on the side of the road this morning. (File photo)
Man killed in fatal hit-and-run collision between Abbotsford and Chilliwack

Body reported at 6 a.m., police close North Parallel Road, single highway lane as they investigate

Westbound traffic is slow moving on Highway 1 following a crash that has police blocking one lane. Google Maps screenshot taken at 9:07 a.m.
TRAFFIC: Crash on North Parallel Road causes road closure, single westbound Highway 1 lane blocked

Abbotsford Police investigating, roads closed between McDermott and No. 3 Road

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Twenty-nine staff members at Sunrise Poultry Processors Ltd. in Newton have tested positive for the virus, according to an information bulletin from Fraser Health Saturday (May 8). The health authority issued a 10-day closure order, effective May 7. (Image: Google Maps)
29 staff test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey poultry processing plant

Meantime, outbreak over at Surrey Memorial Hospital

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Most Read