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June 04, 2016

Will the UK become more powerful if we leave the EU? Voting power analysis suggests not.

A burning question begged by the referendum debate is whether the UK can be more politically powerful if it leaves the EU and regains the full status of an independent sovereign state in all matters than if it remains as a large member of a large and powerful political bloc.

It is a truism that a political actor may have more influence by being a member of a powerful group than it has outside it. It gives up power over decisions taken within the group in order to gain the indirect power from belonging to a powerful group: in other words it benefits from the power of combined forces.

This is essentially an empirical question about weighted voting. In order to answer it in the context of the referendum debate we need to be able to compare a measure of the voting power of the UK both inside and outside the EU. We cannot do that exactly because although the EU has defined voting procedures with precise rules for internal decisions there is not a world equivalent voting body for which we can do a formal analysis for external decisions. Continued

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