Brexit And England's Place in the World

Although foreign and security issues were not central to the referendum debate the impact of Brexit here may be equally momentous. Brexit has the potential to re-energrise the whole Irish question and Scottish support for Europe presages a second Referendum there which would also have implications for Britain’s nuclear status given that these forces are all based on the Clyde.

“Taking back control” of trade policy will also affect England’s foreign policy. In seeking deals with China, the Middle East and beyond the Foreign Office will be less inclined to side with its major allies in criticising these states when its bilateral trade access depends upon accommodation. This may create distance from Washington, Berlin and Paris as London Kowtows to Bejing and others for market access. The biggest impact, however, will be on Europe itself. Obama’s support for Remain was premised on the idea that an outward looking, Atlanticist Europe was better for the world and more likely with the UK in it. Following Brexit the forces of disintegration and xenophobia have been strengthened in Europe and the progress made over the last 70 years towards a tolerant, integrated and liberal political community have been put at risk. The consequences for the very nature of Europe have been raised by Brexit and go way beyond the uncertainty over what relations that England will have with the continent and the rest of the world.

Professor David Dunn