Alex Orr: Sovereignty argument for Brexit is naive

Brexit arguments over sovereignty are naive. Picture: Getty Images
Brexit arguments over sovereignty are naive. Picture: Getty Images
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THE UK is subject to some 700 treaties, writes Alex Orr

The argument by those such as Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and fellow “Brexiters” that our independence from the EU will see our full sovereignty restored is naïve in the extreme. It is not a case of being sovereign or not being sovereign, as this concept is relative. If one refuses to pool sovereignty it in fact has less sovereignty as it has no control over trading arrangements, pollution, the cleanliness of its seas, migration or terrorism.

The UK is already subject to some 700 international treaties and member of a number of international organisations. As a member of the UN, WTO, Nato and the IMF for example, we share our sovereignty, infringing on our national self-determination. But through this approach we have influence and maximise our effectiveness. As a member of the European Economic Area, Norway for example is the tenth largest contributor to the EU budget and is bound by the rules of the single market without any say in the decision-making process.

Many Brexiters see the Norwegian model as one they would like to go down, but Oslo has to adhere to all the EU’s product standards, financial regulations and employment regulations, enacting 75 per cent of EU legislative acts. A UK choosing this track would, in other words, keep paying, accept rules from Brussels without having any influence on them, and would remain committed to the four freedoms, including free movement.

Switzerland’s deal with the EU is unique, and messy. Switzerland has partial access to the Single Market, but not in financial services. It took the Swiss 50 years to get this limited access, and the EU has said it is not a model to be followed by other countries. The Swiss people voted to restrict EU immigration, but found that this was forbidden under their bilateral agreements.

For those wanting true full sovereignty there is only one nation that is truly sovereign, and that is North Korea.

• Alex Orr, policy adviser, The European Movement in Scotland