London – Christopher McCrudden, professor at the law school William W. Cook Global Law Michigan and at Queens University Belfast. Specialized in the field of human rights, it focuses on issues of equality and discrimination, as well as the relationship between international and comparative law of human rights.
The possibility of Brexit, an exit from the EU of the United Kingdom, according McCrudden would be risky for the rights of refugees and the peace process in Northern Ireland.
Do you think that a Brexit will lead UK to a better or worse situation? Why?
Much worse, for several reasons. First, there is now a clear consensus among economists that the UK will be economically worse off in the short term, and in the longer term — the only real dispute is how much worse it will be. Second, it means that the UK will be even more isolated from the mainstream of progressive European values, and will draw even closer to neo-liberal economics and anti-liberal politics. Third, it will weaken the United Kingdom, to such an extent that Scotland is likely to break away from the UK and become independent.
In terms of the law, what would happen in a case of leave vote?
The effect of a leave vote would be a paradise for lawyers and an unmitigated disaster for nearly everyone else. The current relations between the EU and the UK are essentially based on a complex set of legal arrangements. Unpicking these arrangements will require very sophisticated legal advice, and is likely to create many opportunities over the next few years for litigation, both in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. This means a lot more work for lawyers.
What can you say about the refugees crisis in a vote leave event?
Dealing with the refugee crisis is likely to become even more difficult to deal with, if the UK were to exit the EU. The refugee crisis is precisely the type of transnational problem (another example is climate change) that requires a transnational approach if it is to be adequately addressed. Weakening the EU at this time in particular is exactly what those who want to address the refugee crisis should not be doing.
Do you think that European Union and Turkey agreement it is a fair agreement?
Not only is it not fair, it is also potentially unlawful in human rights terms, and is likely to end up being the subject of litigation in either the Court of Justice of the European Union, or the European Court of Human Rights, or both. However, that does not mean that I think a better deal would result if the UK were to exit the EU; the opposite would be the case. The problematic approach that the EU is currently taking is better fixed by the UK remaining in, rather than pulling out and further weakening the EU’s ability to secure a better agreement.
The only other point I would want to make very strongly is that one of the problems that is seldom talked about in England if the UK votes to leave is the effect on Northern Ireland, and in particular the effect on the Northern Ireland peace process. The peace agreement in Northern Ireland depends very significantly on both the UK and Ireland being members of the EU; any destabilisation of the relationship between Ireland and the UK will have potentially highly adverse effects on the stability of government in Northern Ireland. There is already discussion about reestablishing the land border between Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland; this cannot be good news for a peace process that seeks to weaken the old divisions.