How will a potential ‘Brexit’ affect Ukraine and the rest of Europe?

Author : Yana Sayenko

Source : 112 Ukraine

Kremlin is directly interested in undermining of the EU unity
11:20, 23 June 2016

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Over the past two years, the term ‘referendum’ has brought nothing but heartache for Ukrainians.
It all started with the Crimean pseudo-referendum, and continued with the separation of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” and "Luhanks People’s Rupublic". Then came the referendum in the Netherlands on the ratification of the Association Agreement with Ukraine.

And now everyone is talking about a potential “Brexit”.

So what is it and how will it affect Ukraine?

On June 23, 2016 a referendum will be held on the United Kingdom’s potential exit from the European Union. If British voters decide to leave the EU, the aftermath of this event will be felt throughout Europe, including our very own Ukraine.  

London has traditionally opposed the deepening of European integration.

The global financial crisis within the Eurozone, economic problems, and the migrant crisis are just one of the many reasons Britain is looking to leave the EU.

Prime Minister David Cameron said that he supports the country's membership in the EU. While the chairperson of the House of Commons, Chris Grayling, Justice Minister Michael Gove, and former Mayor of London Boris Johnson actively support the Brexit campaign. The UK Independence Party is the main leader of this campaign. Labor and Liberal Democratic party support staying part of the 28-nation bloc.

What would happen if Britain exits the EU?

Geographical distribution would be more unrestricted.

The Euroskeptic mood is most common in England, while Euro-optimism is common for Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The government of Scotland has stated that it would hold a referendum on separating from the EU.

In this case, the Scots are very likely not to vote in favor of the United Kingdom. EU membership was a crucial factor that prevented the exit of Scotland from the United Kingdom in 2014. So Brexit is a real threat to the existence of the United Kingdom as a unified country.

Currently, it is very difficult to predict elections results, because a large number of opinion polls show different results with a minimal gap between supporters and opponents of EU membership. The common feature of all surveys is that 15% to 20% of Britons have not decided what to vote for.

Everything will depend on the internal situation in the UK and the EU as a whole.

For example, the rapid drop in Cameron’s ranking is connected with his involvement in the offshore scandal. The referendum result in the Netherlands on the Association Agreement with Ukraine is also a major factor.

Currently, all efforts of the Eurosceptics are concentrated on the June referendum in Britain.

If they can prove that the future without EU is better, it will be an unprecedented challenge for the whole of Europe.

England’s exit from the EU would shake the 28-nations bloc’s image.

In addition, there is a risk that Brexit could trigger similar initiatives in other countries.

Brussels’ failure to effectively address the economic and migrant crisis poses a real threat to the future unity of the EU.

So what would be the consequences for Ukraine?

A potential Brexit does not look encouraging for Ukraine.

First of all, Kyiv would lose one of its strongest supporters yet and maybe even its bid to be part of the European Union.

Britain has traditionally opposed deeper integration within the European Union, but the union supports expansion by incorporating new members.

This coincides with Ukrainian aspirations.

Britain's position on Ukraine is that Ukraine as a European country should have the right to become an EU member. But Britain is now busy with its own internal problems, and it is likely to reduce its attention on Ukrainian.

Although Britain is not involved in the regulation of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict as Germany and France, the country is one of Kremlin’s biggest critics.

Britain is a country where Russian propaganda has no impact. The public and the media are known to take in Russian propaganda in stride and with a hint of irony.

Sanctions against Russia over its military intervention in eastern Ukraine were introduced by the UK in sync with the EU. In the event of Britain making an exit, London will have to decide once again if sanctions against Russia are a good idea. Although given the history of UK-Russia relations and the country’s strong support for Ukraine, it doesn’t look like London will lift those sanctions anytime soon.

To sum it up: if Britain leaves the EU, Russia will benefit from it.

The Kremlin is interested in undermining European unity.

Russia has influenced some political forces, which are the main agents of Brexit. Particularly, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).

The argument of weakness and destabilization of EU would be used in Russian propaganda to reinforce anti-European sentiment in Ukraine. In addition, when the EU focuses on its internal problems, it does not pay enough attention to Ukraine.

The European Union currently has a number of serious problems and crisis of identity and unity.

This article initially was published on May 13, 2016.

All opinions published on 112.International website reflect the views of the author. 112.International editors may not agree with the opinion of the author.

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