For the most part, Brexit has stayed out of the headlines over the last 10 months. We are leaving the EU, perhaps without a deal, and it is only one of the many national headlines. Love or loathe Brexit, it will have a far-reaching impact on society. You would be hard pressed to find an individual or business that won’t be affected by the disruption of the current supply chain.
However, what really requires closer analysis, is the impact of Brexit on the UK’s international standing. Where do we go from outside of the European project and how much can a country with a currently faltering economy stand above rest on the global stage? In all likelihood a post-Brexit Britain has neither the economy nor influence to be an international player and not being part of the EU project will only further this point.
‘Global Britain’, much like ‘build back better’, is one of those buzzwords with interchangeable and ambiguous meanings. The government can apply it in any context to claim success. In many ways, Britain is already global. Not even Brexit can stop the UK being part of the hyper-globalised world.
So, if being part of a global economic system is not at stake, then what is? I would argue that it is our influence, begging the question of whether we will hold superpower status or not.
It seems as though the current Conservative government is trying to isolate us from the global development of third world countries in this sense. With the recent move to cut global aid, the clarity here is abundant. There are clear faults with foreign aid. The question of whether our aid actually reaches those in third-world countries being one of them. However, its disappearance is at least an indication of that our priorities will be elsewhere.
Of course, Covid-19 complicates Britain’s future standing on the global stage as we must navigate economic recovery whilst withdrawing from the world’s largest trading bloc. Even without Brexit, our financial future would look uncertain. Somehow, China has somehow managed to grow its economy during this time but few countries will come out of the pandemic without long-lasting blemishes. With new pricing for imports a strong liklihood, Britain’s economic stability looks uncertain.
Although Britain does have some trade deals in place, notably with Japan, South Korea, Iceland and Norway, these by no means replace free trade with those in the EU. The danger is that without an effective economy and a triple A credit rating, borrowing will become difficult, and our already limping economy may lose its crutch. Put simply, how can we compete with economic titans such as China, the EU and America with financial problems being amplified at home.
We may see a revival of the commonwealth as a result of Brexit. The post-colonial union can often be reduced in the modern age to nothing more than a recognition of Britain’s former empire. Not to mention the fantastically dull commonwealth games. Though, it may be a crutch that Britain has to stand on in the aftermath of Brexit. A union recognising the legacy of empire and attempting to build a new commonwealth free trade zone could tackle the problem of post-EU tariffs. It would also give a financial leg up to those countries that the current financial order of Britain owes so much to. Britain could become the driving force behind the continuing development of former colonies and alleviate the weakened British image. But, without a conscientous government, this point is almost rendered mute.
We may in time come to look back on our relationship with the EU with rose-tinted spectacles, or conversely, we could see it as an overwhelming success. In all likelihood, I believe we will eventually look back on Brexit as a flashpoint moment that killed an already crumbling standing in the world. The economy will contract and a new financial world order may be in place. This is not to say that the EU is problem-free and a beacon of hope in itself. A point ostensibly proved in its failure to influence the Polish abortion rights debate. However, being part of the EU meant that we could comfortably sit at international debates with the ability to influence major global decisions. Now, we seem to be attempting to forge our own path. One which is not necessarily clear and will no doubt weaken many aspects British life.