Saturday

13th Apr 2024

Leaving EU would make Britain like 'North Korea'

  • Brown (r) made the North Korea statement in an interview with The Guardian (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Britain would resemble a European "North Korea" if it chose to leave the EU, former prime minister Gordon Brown has claimed.

In an article for The Guardian newspaper on Tuesday (10 March), on the eve of a final UK parliament debate on the EU ahead of a general election in May, he argues that “the Hong Kong option – 'leaving Europe to join the world' – is really the North Korea option, out in the cold with few friends, no influence, little new trade and even less new investment".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

But he also warns that Britain’s main pro-European campaign groups risk being views as “a worthy, London establishment-led corporate-financed fact-based campaign of “the great and the good”, whose commitment to Europe is admirable but whose prominence will be used by anti-Europeans to justify the allegation that Europe is for an elite which doesn’t understand the real Britain”.

Brown’s article comes a day after the Open Europe think tank, which calls for reform of the bloc, argued that Britain outside the EU would be likely to secure preferential trade terms with the bloc, but would struggle to guarantee "seamless access" to EU markets for its services sectors, and particularly its lucrative financial services industry.

In the first of a series of reports on the implications of a ‘Brexit’, Open Europe states that this would be because the UK “has a deficit with the EU in goods, but a surplus in services”.

“All sectors would suffer from the UK’s loss of voting rights in the EU, but for industries such as the financial sector the impact could be greater since the barriers to entering European markets could be increased by new EU regulations over which the UK has no votes,” the report adds.

During his three year stint as prime minister, Brown piloted the Lisbon treaty through parliament despite calls from David Cameron’s Conservatives to hold a referendum on the document.

But prior to that his main role in Britain’s relationship with the EU was in devising a series of economic tests designed to keep the country from joining the eurozone.

His article says that Cameron’s threats to leave the EU unless powers are repatriated to the UK has left “a Britain that is semi-detached and disengaged – the Britain of the empty chair even when we are in the room”.

Having largely kept away from the political spotlight since losing power in 2010, Brown was widely credited with making a decisive intervention in the referendum campaign on Scottish independence last September, making a series of impassioned speeches in favour of Scotland remaining part of the UK. He will, however, leave parliament at the May election.

David Cameron has promised to re-negotiate Britain’s EU membership terms followed by a referendum, probably to be held in 2017, if his Conservative party wins the election.

Both the opposition Labour party and Cameron’s current coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, have ruled out a poll unless a future EU treaty is adopted which shifts more power from national to EU level.

Recent polls suggest that Britons would vote to remain in the bloc by a narrow margin.

UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'

EU and UK negotiators said that a new post-Brexit settlement for Gibraltar was just weeks away from completion following four-way talks in Brussels on Friday (12 April).

Ukraine's farmers slam EU import controls on food products

The paradoxical move to tighten EU import controls on agricultural goods from Ukraine, despite the EU's vocal support for Kyiv, has sparked criticism from Ukrainian farmers. Overall, it is estimated the new measures could cost the Ukrainian economy €330m.

Opinion

Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation

As Amazon's founder Jeff Bezos just reclaimed the title of the richest person on Earth, its workers cannot even take a bathroom break under the pressure of meeting inhumane performance targets.

Opinion

The Bolsonaro-Orbán far-right nexus

Defeated far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has given various reasons for sheltering at the Hungarian embassy in Brasilia — none of them make sense.

Latest News

  1. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'
  2. Belgium declares war on MEPs who took Russian 'cash'
  3. Brussels Dispatches: Foreign interference in the spotlight
  4. Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation
  5. Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU
  6. China's high-quality development brings opportunities to the world
  7. Ukraine tops aid list again, but EU spending slumps
  8. Who did Russia pay? MEPs urge spies to give names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us