Via NPR, I … did not expect the cosmopolitan-progressive-in-chief to be out there urging calm when the rest of the international political class is screeching that Brexit is the EU’s 9/11. I wonder if he’d be this chill if it weren’t an election year. Maybe so — maybe he’s just trying to rebuild some goodwill with the UK after his notorious “back of the line” comment about Brexit in April. But it’s in the Democratic Party’s interest to limit the economic fallout from Brexit as much as possible before November lest working-class Americans decide to roll the dice on Trump and protectionism. Could be this is simply O trying to talk the markets up for Hillary’s benefit.
The point he makes has been made a lot in the last 24 hours: Maybe the UK will end up in the same sort of relationship with the EU that Norway’s in. Norway isn’t a member of the Union but it does maintain robust trade with it, which is the top priority for pro-Leave politicians in the afterglow of the big vote. If Britain can keep the economic benefits of EU membership while shrugging off the costs of EU bureaucracy and micro-management, well, what a sweet deal Brexit would be. Just one problem: How do you get the EU to go along with that, knowing that other countries will follow Britain’s example if Brexit is all upside and no downside for the UK?
London cannot “cherry-pick” from the benefits of the E.U. without accepting its basic strictures, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her Parliament on Tuesday before she traveled to Brussels for the dinner meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron and the other E.U. leaders.
“Those who want free access to the European domestic market will have to accept the basic European freedoms and the other rules and duties which are linked to it,” Merkel said. “This applies to Great Britain just like to everyone else. Free access to the domestic market is granted to those who accept the four basic European freedoms — of people, of goods, of services, of capital.”
Or, more succinctly: “Marriage or divorce, but nothing in between,” said Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.
A “friends with benefits” deal with little Norway is one thing but replicating it for a major power like Britain is an invitation to EU disintegration. Verrrrry weird that EU superfan Barack Obama would float the possibility without emphasizing that fact. Another not-so-minor hitch to the UK/Norway comparison: As part of its trade deal with the EU, Norway subscribes to the EU’s open-borders immigration policy, a key reason why Brexiteers voted to Leave last week. At a bare minimum, I would think, the pro-Leave Tories will need a substantial drop in foreigners migrating to the UK in the first few years after the divorce is finalized so that they have something tangible to show Brexit supporters as a reward for their vote. If you’re going to preserve the same (or a similar) trade relationship with the Union and you’re going to be stuck with Angela Merkel’s come-one-come-all refugee resettlement extravaganza (or some homegrown parliamentary version of it), then what’s the point of leaving? Why not remain in the EU and at least enjoy some say over those immigration policies?
Two clips here, one of O on Brexit and the other of him chortling over the idea that Trump isn’t one of the “global elites.”