6th February 2020
Here is a challenge for those who support the United Kingdom joining the European Union.
The challenge is: can you forget that the United Kingdom was ever a member?
By this I mean: can you make out the case for the United Kingdom joining the European Union without reference to the fact that the United Kingdom was a member?
Can the case be made out in contemporary, modern terms, as if the United Kingdom had never been a member and (without the United Kingdom’s internal influence from 1973 to 2020) the European Union had evolved to its current state?
This would require putting side arguments about the rights and wrongs of the 2016 referendum, or about the merits or otherwise of various government policies and personnel since the referendum.
In essence: if the United Kingdom had never been a member of the European Union (and its predecessor forms) what would be the case for joining now?
The first reason for posing this challenge is simple: it is unlikely, if not impossible, that (re-)joining will be based on addressing past grievances of Remainers.
There has to be a positive case.
The second reason is to see if there are arguments for joining which cannot also be met by an Association Agreement.
Association Agreements can be in many forms, and in principle there is no reason why one cannot be the basis of a relationship so close as to be practically indistinguishable from membership.
So: what is the positive case for the United Kingdom joining today’s European Union – and is that a case that only full membership can meet?
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