In a new EI Working Paper titled ‘Brexit and the Re-Making of British Foreign Policy’, Nicholas Wright analyses the challenges Brexit will pose to British foreign policy-makers and institutions, the future of UK-EU relations, and the impact of Brexit on UK engagement with the multilateral system. The paper also shows how the UK government can mitigate the risk of a significant loss of international influence. In this blog entry, Dr Wright highlights the key findings of the paper.
Since the end of the Second World War, the UK has been a multilateral power par excellence, directly contributing to the construction and expansion of many of the most important institutions of international governance, and championing a rules-based international system. In the 2015 National Security Strategy, for example, the maintenance of this system was identified as a core British national interest, contributing to the UK’s capacity to ‘punch above its weight’ in international affairs.
However, although Brexit entails the UK’s departure from a major component of this system, the consequences for British foreign policy remain under-examined in public debates. A number of challenges need to be addressed.
Taking a macroeconomic perspective, Paul Welfens reflects what the findings of his book ‘An Accidental Brexit’ mean in light of new developments in the Brexit negotiations. He argues that if the true economic consequences had been known, the referendum would have turned out differently and shows the potential pitfalls of the ‘Global Britain’ approach to international trade.
The joint statement by PM May and President of the European Commission Juncker on 8 December declared: there is a basic agreement on the ‘Exit Treaty’, including a UK payment of £35 to £39 billion and the British promise to avoid a hard border regime in Northern Ireland. Hence, Stage II of the negotiations can start in the near future. An exit treaty opens up options to avoid a No-Deal Brexit which would bring a net welfare loss of approximately 16% of UK real income as estimated by the European Institute for International Economic Relations (Discussion Paper 234).
In a report published this week Piet Eeckhout and Oliver Patel assess the options for a Brexit transitional arrangement. They argue that the most realistic option is for the full body of EU law to continue to apply in the UK, while the UK simultaneously ceases to be an EU member state. The report’s conclusions are summarised here.
Environmental standards and accountability in the UK are profoundly shaped by EU legislation and policy, even the very softest of Brexits will expose gaps in the UK’s governance framework. Maria Lee, Professor of Law and co-director of the UCL Centre for Law and Environment, argues that new mechanisms are required to ensure accountability and protection of the environment in the UK after Brexit.
For four decades, EU legislation and policy has profoundly shaped the protection of the UK environment. It’s hard to predict exactly what Brexit will mean for Britain’s beaches, air pollution, recycling standards or wildlife conservation – but there is no doubt it will be significant. Continue reading →
The Leave and Remain campaigns defined British ‘Greatness’ in very different ways. The referendum reflects more than attitudes toward EU membership — it marks a new understanding of Britain’s role in the world, as Benjamin Martill, Dahrendorf Postdoctoral Fellow at the LSE, argues in this piece. The end of the postwar consensus of liberal internationalism has important implications and needs to be taken seriously.
The ‘Great’ in Great Britain is a geographical term identifying it as the larger of the two Britains – the other being Brittany in France, once known as Britannia minor. But this is not the way many Brits interpret the term. For greatness has also become a political category, referring not to British territory but to its venerable national attributes and its reputation on the international stage. What, we are often asked, makes Britain ‘great’? Continue reading →