As political science professor David R. Cameron took the podium before his talk on the implications of Brexit Thursday afternoon, he paused to allow those expecting another David Cameron — the former prime minister of the U.K. — to leave. He laughed when no one left, and then went on.
At the talk, “Brexit: What It Will Mean for the U.K. and the EU,” which drew about 30, the renowned Yale professor discussed the historical relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, provided information on possible arrangements between the U.K. and EU after the U.K. voted in June to leave the EU and spoke about its potential domestic and global consequences.
“Of course, we don’t really know specifically what will happen yet, but we have some idea,” he said.
On June 23, slightly more than half of the 72 percent of British citizens who voted in the referendum chose “Leave.” Cameron said the “flurry of polls” in the days leading up to election day were split between a “Remain” and a “Leave” victory, muddling signs of which side would win until the very end.
Thus, the vote to leave the EU came as a surprise to many members of the British public. Even so, Britain will remain a member of the EU for at least another two-and-a-half years — the approximate time it will take for all necessary arrangements and agreements to be made between the EU and the U.K., with two of those years devoted to negotiations.
“The U.K., not surprisingly, has not yet officially notified the EU of its decision to leave, in part because they don’t know exactly what they want,” Cameron said. “The likely objectives of the U.K. in negotiations will probably be full access to the internal markets and financial services of the EU.”
The U.K.’s official notification will likely occur in 2017, so it will stay a member of the EU until almost 2020, or even longer if negotiations are extended. For example, the U.K. does not want free movement to and from EU states, which may complicate the timeline.
Voting “Leave” might also have drastic domestic consequences for the U.K. Cameron said that the vote will likely prompt another referendum in Scotland on whether it would want to stay as part of the U.K. One such referendum took place in September 2014, when 55 percent of Scottish voters voted “No” to the question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”
Cameron said the current dominant Scottish political party is strongly in favor of remaining in the EU. This may have huge geopolitical consequences for Britain, he said. If Scotland votes to leave the U.K., the British Vanguard-class submarines — armed with nuclear ballistic missiles — currently based in Scotland cannot be relocated, since studies show that neither England nor Wales has the means to take them in. This may even slightly shift the power balance in nuclear weapons from NATO toward Russia, Cameron said.
The talk prompted plenty of questions and received a warm response from the audience.
James Daniel GRD ’18 said Cameron touched on many interesting points about the EU, and that he did not previously know about the referendum’s consequences for Scotland.
Kevin McCarthy, a member of the New Haven community, had a similar response.
“David clearly spent a lot of time on this issue and it’s good that he acknowledged that in reality no one knows exactly what is going to happen,” he said.
Britain joined the European Economic Community, the EU’s predecessor, in 1973.