Are EU In or Out? – Side Note:- The Leaving Framework


The Leaving Framework

This is just a quick side note to my Are EU In or Out? series as a response to Vote Leave‘s recently published Leaving Framework, their plans for what comes after a Leave vote. If you will, it’s their White Paper moment. You can read it here (or here).

Some of their key points include:-

An insistence that Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union need not be deployed as an exit measure.


This stems from their inability to counter the claim that they would be unable to complete negotiations within the mandated two year period and lack the confidence that they would be able to count on the unanimous vote of the remaining 27 EU members to extend negotiations, leading to the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a completed replacement deal. For all their bluster that the UK could “fall back” on WTO trading rules, it evidently is not their ideal solution to do so.

So they are trying to set up the situation whereby “informal” negotiations could come first before the “clock” started. This may well be possible but it is just as equally possible that the EU could, as would be well within its rights to do so, refuse any such “informal” negotiations until and unless Article 50 is triggered (see the analogous situation where Scotland was unable to approach the EU for official views as it was not a member state therefore the EU had no obligation to answer any questions).

The statement is also made that Greenland didn’t leave under Article 50 but instead under Article 48 which is a revision to all appropriate treaties to exclude Greenland from them.

Three problems with this idea.

1) The reason Greenland was able to do this is because IT IS NOT A MEMBER STATE OF THE EU. Denmark is. Essentially all of the treaties of which Denmark is a part were amended to state “excluding Greenland”. I highly doubt that the Brexiteers will long tolerate a fudge whereby the UK is still technically in the EU, but just ignores all of its laws.

2) Article 48 now requires all members to approve each treaty change by their own constitutional methods. This includes, in the case of Ireland, France, a few others and – thanks to Cameron’s reforms – the UK to hold referendums for each treaty being changed. Are Vote Leave seriously considering this as a less messy option than Article 50?

It’s worth noting also that this option would be subject to veto by any of the remaining 27 EU members for any reason. All it would take is, say, Germany saying “We’d prefer the UK invoked Article 50” and that’s it.

3) Greenland didn’t deploy Article 50 because Article 50 DID NOT EXIST at the time of their leaving. It was drafted as the result of and in response to that situation and acted to codify the leaving procedure for the future.

Vote Leave then goes on to suggest that another method of leaving the EU without deploying Article 50 would be to invoke the 1969 Vienna Convention which allows the bilateral dissolution of international treaties. Unfortunately, Vote Leave’s OWN CITED PAPER on the subject rather demolishes that case


Essentially, 1969 Vienna allows an international treaty to be left IF all parties agree (that is, it would be subject to veto by any or all of the remaining 27 members of the EU) AND there is no specific exit clause within it. If there is an exit clause, and Article 50 is specifically cited as an example of one, then it should be adhered to.

It’s also rather curious to note the parallel between Vote Leave and Yes Scotland with regard to timetables. Yes claimed that the 2014 referendum would be followed by 18 months of negotiations to thrash out the ground work; independence on 24th March 2016 and then a period of co-operation and unwinding over the following decade as cross-border arrangements such as military and welfare administration were disentangled.

Vote Leave on the other hand simply states that they have literally no idea how long Brexit negotiations will take.


Yes was dragged thoroughly over the coals over its “lack of clarity” in such things. I fully expect the UK media to do their job and do the same to this document. I fully anticipate that they won’t.

To where, the money?

Vote Leave’s major campaign point, other than immigration, has been all of the good the money we’d “save” would do. Full Fact indicates that the “net loss” to the EU from out contributions less the direct re-investments is £8.5 billion per year.

Vote Leave’s White Paper includes only two directly funded programs. £100 million extra per week for the NHS – £5.2 billion per year – and a dropping of the 5% VAT duty on household energy bills.
The average UK household spends £1350 on energy per year, of which £68 is VAT. With 27 million households in the UK, this puts the VAT contribution from energy bills at £1.82 billion. Between that and the NHS increase, this totals a little over £7.0 billion so assuming that farmer’s CAP payments and all of the other EU funded projects the UK benefits from are maintained at current levels these two promises soak up very nearly all of the “net gain” from Leaving.

Vote Leave’s central economic thesis for a Brexit is essentially:

“Vote Leave to save 5% on energy bills and gain 5% extra funding in the NHS”

And these are the same people who claimed that Yes Scotland was unambitious.

Things do not bode well if any post-Brexit trade deals also include and EFTA style payment in exchange for the Single Market and certainly anyone else who was promised money in exchange for Brexit may find the purse strings rather tighter than they were led to believe.

As said, I do hope that the Brexit campaign is put under at least SOME public scrutiny before the vote this coming Thursday. Had the 2014 Yes campaign come out with a document as, frankly, poorly researched as this one I think we would have wanted to know about it. I think we wouldn’t have had a choice BUT to know about it. To those who want to spread a little light on the debate, I hand this article over to you.


16 thoughts on “Are EU In or Out? – Side Note:- The Leaving Framework

  1. Pingback: Are EU In or Out? – Contents Page | The Common Green

    • I thought it curious that a question of the form actually proposed by the EC for the 2014 indyref (“Should Scotland be an independent country? Yes/No) which was modified for this referendum (“Should the UK remain a member of the EU?” Yes/No) was then considered “too biased” by the EC.

      I don’t believe the question as it stands is too ambiguous but it may have ramifications come indyref2. We may not be “allowed” the same question on the ballot as in 2014. Not sure I’d like for us to lose our pre-existing “brand” of Yes.


  2. Brilliant as usual.

    If the result is a close win for Breit, I would suggest that DC appoints then Leave Campaign biggies to the negociation team with a requirement that they pass everything they negociate through parliament….


    • That would seem the logical position if Cameron did indeed intend to stay on after a Leave vote (I don’t think his position would be tenable).

      Could you imagine a parliament *blocking* any of the Leave team’s proposals though? That’d be a kaffuffle and a half.


  3. Thank you for the time you have taken to complete this series of articles, which must have taken you a considerable amount of time and effort.. I found them most useful, as I am sure did other people.


    • Still another article, maybe two, to go. Should be able to get them out before the vote…should. 😀

      It’s been an interesting experience for myself too. Learned a lot just doing the research for each piece. Certainly didn’t expect it to be as big as it’s become. At the outset, I honestly thought I’d have this done and dusted in two posts. Oh well. 🙂


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