On 23 June 2016, 51.9 % of votes cast in the British referendum were for Brexit or, in other words, for the UK’s departure from the European Union. Since then, new Prime Minister Theresa May has been making preparations to negotiate the terms of that exit which, apart from its economic consequences, will also have a significant geopolitical impact for the country.
It is these geopolitical consequences Jean-François Drevet considers in his column, arguing that if the British believe they are taking back control of their international affairs, they might well be disappointed. So far as the Commonwealth is concerned, the UK is no longer the major partner it was in the 1970s, the USA and China having both overtaken it in terms of trade. And some Commonwealth members even fear the consequences of Brexit for their own economies. When it comes to the United States under a Trump administration, it isn’t at all clear that it sees its political or economic interests as lying in a UK withdrawal from the EU. As for the prospect, hinted at by the UK government, of turning the country into a European offshore tax haven, that idea has not as yet been sufficient to reassure British financial circles. And lastly, internal discord generated by the Brexit decision (in Scotland and Northern Ireland) isn’t likely to make the government’s task any easier. As Jean-François Drevet rightly concludes, Europe is scarcely any easier to dismantle than it has been to build!