UK has no tangible reasons to exit EU – Part 2
A possible worst case scenario for Europe, in the short term is a partial, but not a total collapse of the EU. It would emerge in a different form, in which the original six bigger members and a few others that are seen to be viable economically could continue with the Union’s aims and objectives. Even in this scenario, it is difficult to see how the smaller countries would find it viable to want to leave the coalition. The shock waves would lead to economic crisis and negative economic growth in the Euro Zone. The UK economy may be less affected, but it would have nothing to benefit from it.
In the long run, it could reduce the long term economic and political influence of Europe in their power relations with other power blocks in South America and Asia. If the EU does not collapse, but remains either in its current form or the latter form suggested, UK’s foreign policy would seek to increase the importance of its flattering ‘Special Relationship’ with the U.S., by seeking closer relationship with U.S. foreign policy. It would seek to achieve this by promoting more extreme right wing and ‘cold war’ policies against Russia and China.
It would also aggressively seek to draw India into this alliance. This policy would find rooms especially with the right wing American Republican leadership. This policy would provoke some reactions from the EU leadership. Among the core objectives of the leadership of the EU is the need to reduce the political influence of the U.S. in Europe, to reduce the burdens of its foreign policy which in many areas contradict its and to reduce its dependence on U.S. military and security protection. EU may in one way or the other curb the access of non-EU members to its market; such action could hasten the current development which is redirecting the world centre of finance from London to Berlin on the continent.
Over time, both the power relations and the conflict of interest between the EU and U.S. would widen, forcing U.S. on one hand to increasingly continue to engage the EU directly. The importance of UK in Europe would depend on its capacity to play the role of a ‘spoiler’. If it is effective, EU would be pressed to accommodate its interest in some areas. In other world, the influence of UK on EU would depend on whether it has the capacity to effectively use its power either ‘negatively’ or ‘positively’ to force concessions. The question is, will it have that capacity?
What are the possible effects of Britain’s exit on African countries and Blacks in Britain? Britain’s attempt at a ‘stand alone’ policy would require the needs to secure more resources from Africa and to have more controls over its governments. In order to meet these objectives, Britain would pursue a policy of ‘re-colonisation’ by which it would sponsor neo-colonial policies that will not be in African interest.
There will also be reductions in foreign aids to Africa. Britain’s clouts in Africa are based on having nuclear weapon and its positions in the World Bank and IMF. These policies would draw Africans closer to both China and the EU and reduce the influence of World Bank and IMF.
To Black British, Britain’s attempts at ‘do it alone’ would result in an attempt at cutting costs and benefits beyond what are currently considered reasonable. This policy of ‘small but beautifully packed’ could result in the removal of equality law and the social chapter that protects workers’ right, as already demanded by right wing politicians. Since the European court of justice will no longer be able to intervene to prevent bad laws, such as locking up people without evidence or trial, such laws and extreme ‘nationalism’ would result in increase in racism, human rights abuse and deportation of immigrants.
The needs to get bigger are the future trend in international politics; up to 80 per cent of countries worldwide live under regional groupings and the search for such opportunities has not abated. Some experts have suggested that in order to be more competitive against envisaged future challenges from EU and Asia, instead of aligning with a small country such as Britain, U.S. may seek closer coalition with the bigger countries in its geopolitics; such as Canada, Brazil and in the long terms, Mexico, to form a very powerful and credible political block.
In Asia, in addition to those Asian countries that have accepted the leadership of China, Japan is likely to reduce its dependence on U.S. and accept China’s leadership. Britain currently has the sixth largest economy in the world. But without a manufacturing base, its economy is very fragile in the face of challenges from other potentially robust economies. The only reason why Britain is influential at the World stage is first its nuclear deterrent; second, its coalition with the U.S. and its association with the EU.
The English ultra nationalists have many emotive reasons to want to exit the EU, but no single tangible reason; be it security, defence, economy, welfare reasons that could enhance the security of the nation both in the short, medium and long terms. In fact, the short sighted nationalists have not faced up to the reality that it could lead to the break-up of the country if Scotland does not wish to leave the European Union.
In October 1948, as part of the debates on what roles the British should play in the international political arena after the loss of its empire, Wilson Churchill, the British Prime Minister introduced for the first time the idea of Britain being positioned ‘at the very point junction’ of three circles: the British Commonwealth; the English-speaking World; and the United Europe.
The assumption was that its engagement in one circle will increase its influence in other circles and overall, Britain could maximise its capacity and be able to impose its leadership in each circle and use such influence to preserve its historical major power status. This strategic thinking assumes that what is left of the British capacity are enough to influence those circles.
The reality is that it is not; the assumptions behind this strategy are delusional, grandiose and irrational. It was Professor Paul Kennedy who observed that ‘the history of the World is the history of the rise and fall of great powers.’ Britain is still deluded about his power and role that was indeed a thing of the past. A more realist approach would be to base its strategy of engagement with the rest of the world on ‘national interest’ rather than ‘role play’.
The current ‘Out of EU’ objective is based on the vanity of role played rather than what benefits its own people. A more realistic, robust and rational approach would be for the British elite to accept that the realities underpinning British foreign policy in the past centuries have changed. There is need to avoid overstretches which could set the country back. There is need for policy makers to have a mind shift to accommodate new realities realistically and to teach the politicians to do the same.
Akinola (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a United Kingdom based Foreign Policy and Security analyst. He is the current Chairman, BOT of Nigeria Diaspora Security Forum.