Current location:Home > Views > Browse articles

Thinking About Brexit and Its Implications
Views:1440 Updated:2019-12-19

12 December 2019 marked a new beginning for the Conservative party ruling in British political history, with the Tories winning a landslide majority in the country’s general election on that day since the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher-led election in 1987. The victory made by the Tories also enhanced the certainty for U.K.’s leaving.  


Since Britain held a national referendum and the British people voted to exit from the European Union about 3 and a half years ago, the most frequently discussed question concerning this issue has been about the gains and losses of leaving the EU. Being uncertain about the amount of pros and of cons of exit is also one of the key reasons for having dragged this country into a nationwide troublesome situation, so that it had taken Britain for more than 3 years to finally decide whether to leave or stay in the EU.


This analytical piece will tend to think about the possible implications of Brexit from a more broader and structural perspective in terms of its relevance to the U.K., to the EU, and to the world.


Brexit for Britain  


Many observers already indicated that there will be many uncertainties and challenges rising out there for Britain for a certain period of time, especially for the first few years after this country’s leaving from the EU, given the fact that the U.K. would need some time to re-adjust its positions and policies in a wide range of aspects in order to make them more adaptable to the changing internal and external situations. Before then, the U.K.’s domestic situation in particular in economic terms will face a downward pressure.


While respecting all kinds of views from a range of sectors on the Brexit issue, this piece would also like to present an alternative point that it is still a bit too early to calculate at what degree Brexit could affect the U.K.’s economic prospect, given the fact that the real outcomes of it in the foreseeable future very much depend on how quickly the U.K. could adjust its policies and measures, and how effectively in the meantime the U.K. could manage to engage itself with other countries including the U.K.’s neighbours and other regional and global players.


The United States has already offered to negotiate a free trade agreement with Britain after Brexit. It is expected that the U.K. would be interested in seeking agreements and cooperation with other countries as well in the very near future. In this regard, Brexit now has just opened new and bigger opportunities for the U.K. to develop cooperation and partnerships with a wide variety of countries across the world.


The former British Prime Minister Mr. Cameron has already proactively led the U.K. to participate in the projects of the Belt & Road Initiative proposed by the Chinese President Xi. This platform is expected to generate wider opportunities for all participating countries including the U.K. to develop closer relationships, build sound networks, and enhance cooperation based on their mutual interests.


Brexit for Europe


On the European level, Brexit might cause an impact on other EU countries’ membership within the EU, and also on the possible restructuring of the European region. That means A few other EU countries might follow the U.K.’s foot steps to apply for removing their memberships from the EU as well - if this trend cannot be avoided, it may not be a bad news for Europe, as this would open a new window for Europe to restructure the European regionalism, and to that extent, to help vitalize the European continent from a number of aspects.


The European countries have long been advocating the significance of multilateralism in regional and global affairs. Nevertheless, with the rising of protectionism and populism, many have already worried about the function and influence of multilateralism in dealing with common problems. Whether the rising of protectionism and populism would lead to the diminishing influence of multilateralism? This analysis would assume a view that protectionism and populism currently happening in some countries wouldn’t have a big impact on the process of developing new multilateral frameworks and of reforming the old ones, given the fact that every country is not capable of solving all its problems alone; and that multilateralism still plays a role in facilitating solutions for countries to come together to address the common challenges including protectionism and populism faced by humans.  


There is also a necessity to notice that the rising of protectionism and populism have more complicated reasons. Roughly it could be a sign to reflect some people’s discontent toward the uncertainties caused by globalization; National governments’ failure to address the problems faced by some special groups also contributed to this cause; Besides that, the rising of protectionism and populism could be a product resulted by the inefficient function of a number of regional and international institutions, as the policies and measures taken by these institutions could have affected the decision-making and domestic situation of a specific member country at its national level.


Under the above circumstances, the U.K.’s exit from the EU could have sent out a message for the series of multilateral institutions based in the European continent to speed up their reforming processes. Meanwhile, other EU countries would possibly sense the urgency as well to take more effective measures to address the rising of protectionism, populism and nationalism in their countries.


Another possibility of Brexit on Europe is that in case Europe is forced by the changing regional and global situations to restructure its regionalism, the U.K. is expected to actively join other countries’ efforts to develop a new type of European regionalism, a more inclusive and vibrant one hopefully. For instance, the big EU group might be reduced to a number of sub-groups in line with particular subject matters in order to avoid being hamstrung by the big membership, and to improve efficiency. ( Here is just of an assumption; and so far no observation has been made on the prospect of European regionalism anyway. )   


Brexit for the World  


On the global level, the impact of Brexit is more related to the U.K.’s possible contribution, together with other key regional and global players, to the reforming of the old multilateral frameworks, to the building of new multilateral mechanisms, and to the shaping of a likely multipolar international system. Now Brexit allows the U.K. to have more freedom to act and in decision making in terms of its interaction with a wide range of actors at both regional and global levels.  


In a foreseeable future, more resources will be likely moving to emerging economies and developing countries. Developed countries will have to allow developing countries to increase their participation in regional and global affairs.


The 2008 global financial crisis already sent out a clear signal that developed countries are not capable of managing all issues properly without the support and engagement of emerging economies and developing countries.


The common sense made by both developing and developed nations in fighting the global financial crisis led to the birth of the Group of 20. Over the past years, the role of the G20 has been growing, as it is more fairly reflective of the distribution of the global economic power relations. The establishment of the G20 is also of an indication that developing and developed states could join hands to work more effectively toward addressing the common challenges faced by the globe.


Overall, Brexit is likely to open a lot of possibilities for Britain, for Europe, as well as for the world. There will a bigger space for the U.K. together with other countries to play more positive roles in a new historical era under the changing national, regional and global contexts.   




Address:Room 417, 4th Floor, Building 435, Bai Zi Wan Xi Li, Chao Yang District, Beijing, P.R.China
Copyright:Centre for Strategic Thinking