The UK Independence Party, as its name would indicate, wants autonomy even sooner.
The rationale often cited for walking away is that the U.K. is sick of being bullied by Brussels — the seat of EU power — and of watching its sovereignty gradually eroded by faceless bureaucrats, preventing the state from setting its own policy on hot topics like immigration and banking regulation.
Skeptics also point to the fact that by choosing not to join the euro currency, the U.K. is often crowded out of the decision making process on key issues that affect the whole of the EU — and not just the eurozone.
When it comes to economics, there are signs the U.K. could afford to strike out on its own, as long as it is willing to suffer the immediate financial implications.
True, the U.K. enjoys a significant trading relationship with its fellow Europeans, though those ties have been dwindling for some time as Asia and America grab a bigger slice of the country’s wares.
Taking in around $220 billion of its goods and services each year, the EU remains the U.K.’s single biggest regional partner for trade. But it now accounts for just half of U.K. exports, five percent less than in 2008.
On the other hand, being part of the EU gives the U.K. significant advantages, helping it avoid tariffs it would otherwise face.
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