Mona Ali in The Political Quarterly:
Reclaiming national sovereignty has been a mantra of Brexiteers. Yet one of the many ironies of Brexit is that Britain actually enjoys a special status within the EU. In fact, the many exemptions and concessions secured by the UK – from constraints on sovereignty imposed by EU membership – brings to mind Carl Schmitt’s dictim: ‘sovereign is he who decides the exception’.
Most Brexit calculations, which weigh the costs of exiting the EU against the benefits of EU membership in monetary terms, ignore these intangible and often immeasurable aspects of Britain’s geo-strategic power.
On more than one occasion, Britain has embroiled the EU in drawn-out renegotiations of the very terms upon which it had agreed to join the supranational federation. In 2016, for instance, David Cameron signed Britain out of the first clause of the Treaty on European Union, where other member countries promise to strive towards a ‘ever closer union’.
This was not a one-off instance. In 1975, just two years after its accession to the European Economic Community, the UK opted out of the European Monetary Union.