Voting Leave is the beginning of negotiations

Britain’s Referendum and the question of Brexit: I am frustrated with both the Leave and Remain campaigns, not just because both have manipulated facts, or promoted nonsensical arguments, but because their focus has distracted voters from the fundamental goals of international diplomacy. Therefore, I will distil my understanding of the question Britain faces and explain why, irrespective of anyone’s position to Leave or Remain in the EU, our initial vote on 23rd June must be to Leave:
At the core of the debate is a cost/ benefit analysis whether the United Kingdom is better off in or out of the EU; but this is not a binary choice because the real issue is more complex, though it is nothing more than an exercise in the art of negotiation. Yes, we’re bargaining for a membership into a club, whose acceptance we can live with, or without, so please keep this in mind while you read.

Weak negotiators, like David Cameron, do not understand that this is a high stakes, bargaining game between Britain and its European neighbours. If our Prime Minister appreciated Britain’s value to the club, he would have not only secured better concessions from the EU in the first instance by putting forward demands that would never be accepted by the EU as an initial position, but campaigned for Brexit afterwards, whatever concessions were gained, as a tactic to get an even better deal. This is why anyone who believes that Britain should remain in the EU must vote NO (i.e. Brexit) in the first vote, because any rational person who wants to be in the club should strive for the highest level of benefits for the lowest costs possible.
Some may be puzzled by my remarks: Why vote for something you do not want? Is it not irreversible?

The reason is that if a NO vote is secured, the EU will revert to Britain with more concessions. Before anyone accuses me of delusions, consider the history of the EU’s expansion: Every time a member state has rejected the EU in a referendum (e.g. Denmark, Ireland, Portugal) the EU has come back without delay and offered a better deal. So if you are an individual who wants the UK remain in the EU, then you should assess the true value of Britain as a net contributor to the EU and say NO, even if deep down you really mean YES. If the EU will grovel back to peripheral members like the three examples above, will they not do the same for Britain?

In my opinion, a NO vote is the beginning of open negotiations.

An academic analysis of voting preferences requires a full assessment of the dynamics of power politics, and not just perceived costs and benefits. Those who studied the dismal science of economics will recognise these as: game theory, public choice theory, rational expectations and marginal utility. True, these are important questions at the root of economic thought, but the jargon is irrelevant because the real question is: Do you want to give it all up on a first date before seeing if anything better is on offer?

The first answer is NO… and maybe the next answer might also be no, but the analysis of a subsequent vote, if Brexit wins the first round, is more complex, so I will leave this to another post, assuming such a possibility arises.


  1. Always be prepared to walk away from any negotiation table one sits at. Cameron never seemed to get that.

    That said, if a No still allowed Cameron to finally say yes, we would still end up in the same place, as the EU has an end state in mind and is willing to do and say anything to get there.



  2. A very interesting post. I had thought that Mr Cameron would deliberately fail to get concessions to put to the people in a referendum and then cancel it, arguing that there was no point in a referendum as there was nothing to discuss and then move on, so I give him ‘credit’ for actually doing what he said he would, or rather, cancel my ‘discredit note’.

    It is important to note that a “Leave” win means nothing in law, it is purely political and changes nothing, there is no mechanism to trigger a departure from the EU, or overrule EU law pending departure. The winner of the 2020 General Election may well claim a mandate to remain and bury the matter.



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