Brexit: is Britain left out in the cold?

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Brexit: is Britain left out in the cold?

The new political sciences journal Diplomatica, published by Brill, explores the theme of Brexit and the implications on Britain, with three insightful articles.

Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ policy has left the UK’s ‘special relationship’ in the cold, offering no comfort to a post-Brexit Britain, a leading international relations academic claims.

Prof Klaus Larres, writing in the current edition of the journal Diplomatica, states that favourable US trade terms are not on the table despite President Trump’s rhetoric praising the Brexit decision. ‘Washington seems to be quite unwilling to treat the UK as a privileged partner’, he says. ‘It is most unlikely that a post-Brexit UK will receive any trade breakthroughs from Donald Trump’s America’.

Instead, Prof Larres, of the University of North Carolina, says President Trump can be expected to be tough on any trade agreement. Outside of the EU support system, the UK is at the mercy of the US in any negotiations. ‘In the age of Trump, this is not a good position to be in’, he says. While Brexiteers have made much of the ‘special relationship’ before and since the 2016 EU referendum, it is a nostalgic concept in today’s world. ‘The two bilateral meetings between Prime Minister May and President Trump proved that despite all of his bombastic rhetoric, Trump did not intend to pay particular attention to the “special relationship” at all’, Prof Larres adds.

Brexit negotiations hampered by ignorance of EU norms

Britain never learned from its 46-year experience as an EU partner in its Brexit negotiations, Prof N. Piers Ludlow, London School of Economics, states in Diplomatica. ‘The British have instead blundered through much of the Brexit negotiation as if dealing with the EU for the very first time’, he says.

While specialist knowledge exists among politicians, journalists, and academics, experts with insider knowledge have been suspected of having ‘gone native’ and have been sidelined. Negotiators persisted with a bilateral style of dealing with EU partners, hoping that if Germany and France were on one side, other member states would follow. ‘This is seldom how the EU has worked’, he says.

The ‘misguided fixation’ on the EU as a tariff-free trading area rather than a single market underpinned by common regulations led to false promises of what a post-Brexit Britain could achieve as an exporter to the EU. ‘The prospect of pan-European free trade is of as much assistance to a would-be exporter to the EU as an umbrella offered to someone alarmed by rising flood water’, he says.

Meanwhile, the EU’s perception as a peace project and its loyalty to one of its own member states, Ireland, underpins its support for the Northern Irish backstop, factors that Britain has failed to take into account in the negotiations.

Britain risks losing out on security and defence

Prof Anne Deighton of Oxford University notes in Diplomatica that Britain’s security and defence needs are in danger of being compromised by a Brexit deal as negotiators struggle to unpick the EU’s security aspects. The EU has over 40 tools for dealing with security, arrest procedures, and data collection.

‘Compromises may have to be made in the interests of national security, which even Brexiteers see cannot be managed by the UK alone in an age of advanced technology and cross-border security issues’, she says. Britain’s exclusion from the EU’s Galileo project, the satellite and surveillance and tracking system, reflects the broader EU negotiating interest. ‘Losing automatic access to Europol data and being related to the status of third party “observers” does not bode well’, she adds.

A common security system to deal with a range of emerging threats, such as terrorism and smuggling, is even recognized by Brexiteers. ‘A botched Brexit in this area could have enormous long-term unintended implications in the management of security, terrorist and civilian protection issues’.