BREXIT Marks the END of Great Britain

March 16, 2019

BREXIT Marks the END of Great Britain

by Dr. Fareed Zakaria

One of the great strengths of democracy is that bad policies are often reversed. That’s a consolation when we look at the flurry of pandering programs being enacted as the populist wave works its way through the Western world. When a new government is elected, things can be undone. Except for Brexit, which, if it goes through, might prove to be the most profound legacy of this decade.

Image result for Churchill and Thatcher

Britain, famous for its prudence, propriety and punctuality, is suddenly looking like a banana republic as it makes reckless decisions, misrepresents reality and now wants to change its own self-imposed deadline. But if it does leave the European Union, it would be bad news for be bad news for Britain, Europe and the West.

As Martin Sandbu writes in the Political Quarterly, Brexit has always been “a solution in search of a problem.” To me, the best evidence of this is that Britain’s Euroskeptics generally want to leave the E.U. because they see it as a statist juggernaut. In virtually every other member country, Euroskeptics dislike the E.U. because they see it as a free-market juggernaut. So either all of those other countries have it backward, or Britain’s Conservatives have gone nuts.

When I asked my Post colleague Anne Applebaum what historians would look at when trying to understand the road to Brexit, she suggested it all centers on the Conservative Party.

The Tories could probably claim to be the most significant political party of the 1900s, governing Britain for most of the century, producing Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and other iconic Western statesmen.

But after the Cold War, as left-wing parties abandoned socialist ideas and moved to the center, the right faced an identity crisis. It needed to find the kind of clarity and purpose that anti-communism and freedom had provided. In the United States, this mobilized the Republicans to emphasize social and cultural issues such as abortion, gay rights and immigration, which they coupled with an almost religious fury against liberals.

In Britain, Conservatives found themselves in the same mushy middle that Prime Ministers Tony Blair and David Cameron inhabited. So, as Applebaum noted, they went radical — on Europe. Of course, there were always Euroskeptics, but they had been a small, eccentric minority within the party. By the midpoint of Cameron’s premiership, they were able to hold the party hostage and force Britain to walk the plank.

We’re all weary of the drama, but keep in mind: Brexit would be a disaster. As Sandbu points out, Britain’s economy is competitive and productive only in high-value manufacturing and services, both of which depend on a deeply integrated market with Europe. Although Britain can and will adjust, Brexit would probably mean a path of slower growth and less innovation for the country and its people.

The foreign policy consequences of Brexit are being discussed least but might prove to be the most consequential. If Brexit does occur, within a few years, Scotland and Northern Ireland would probably loosen their ties to Britain to maintain their association with Europe. The United Kingdom would then be reduced to just England and tiny Wales, not really fitting into any of the three economic blocs of the 21st century — North America, Europe and China. London, a city that has shaped global affairs for 250 years, would become the West’s Dubai, a place where lots of money sloshes around but of no great geopolitical consequence.

Europe would also lose a lot with Brexit. Britain has a large and vibrant economy. But more important,Britain has been a crucial voice in the community for free markets, openness, efficiency and an outward-looking foreign policy. It has been one of the few European countries that has maintained and deployed a powerful army, often for broader global purposes.

As non-Western countries such as China rise, the central question of international relations is: Can the international system built by the West — which has produced peace and prosperity for 75 years — last? Or will the rise of China and India and the revival of Russia erode it and return us to what Robert Kagan calls “the jungle” of international life — — marked by nationalism, protectionism and war? Image result for Britain no longer rules the waves

After BREXIT–Great Britain is no longer GREAT

The world order as we know it was built over two centuries, during the reigns of two liberal, Anglo superpowers — Britain and then the United States. Brexit would mark the end of Britain’s role as a great power, and I wonder whether it would also mark the day that the West, as a political and strategic entity, begins to crumble.

(c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group

Washington Post 

6 thoughts on “BREXIT Marks the END of Great Britain

  1. Brexit will be a temporary set back. After that the ingenuity of the British people will take over. They have the discipline and resources to pick themselves up and move forward.
    In the affair of state there are no good decisions or bad decision. Get up pick up that drive draw the club with caution and execute the shot with a complete follow through .
    Implement, follow up and follow through with your policies .

  2. As long as it doesn’t become Greek Bottom-Briton, the Mad Dogs will be fine..

    I wonder whether BRICS will really be able to take up the Mantle and replace rabid Western Capitalism and Internationalism with an autocratic, if somewhat corrupt, inefficient Regionalism based on Anocracy (“regime that mixes democratic with autocratic features”) and Plutocracy (“a society that is ruled or controlled by people of great wealth or income”)?

    I doubt it. The 3 main players will still be the USofA (if it’s borders are still secure after Drumpf), PRC (if it doesn’t implode after Taikor Xi) and the EU (if the Germans and Franks can get along – even as they speak English to each other in Brussels) – til the end of this century.

    Brexit will just be a footnote ‘blip’ on radar. After all who needs a doddering old dowager who’s trying to rely on the Sun Never Sets-ism, forgoing traditional fishy kippers for tea and curry, sheer eccentricity and laconic, deadpan humor. Norway and Switzerland are doing pretty well outta the EU don’t you think? No?

  3. There is a discussion going around that one of the reason you have ideological politics is because its not normal to have excellent or idealistic politics, the ideological stupidity arise out of our own stupidity of wanting excellent or idealistic politics. From that, then normal politics is nominally stupid i.e, if we get a little bit of stupidity but everything else works, that is the best we can hope for.

    Brexit is an ideological phenom and abnormal. If Britain can go back to normal stupidity, then all is not lost but if it swings to even leftist stupidty, then it wil be reall bad..

  4. No one knows. Britain leaving the EU is some what equal to the 8 or nine members who benefit more than their annual contribution to the EU budget.
    In historical context The Galippoli Landing during WW one comes to mind.

  5. Brexit is providing some much needed humbling to the self declared “Great” Britain. But rejoining the United States of Europe would be pretty humbling too, to give up our independence. So which every way you look at it, hopefully in the end we’ll be known as “Humble Britain” instead!

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